Virgin Atlantic announced Monday that its aircraft would be doing test trials during December on “starting grids,” which are designed to reduce fuel burn and carbon dioxide emissions.
A “starting grid” is a holding area near a runway which has several parking bays for aircraft. The aircraft can be towed closer to a runway before takeoff, reducing the time that engines need to be running to about 10 minutes before actual takeoff.
The trials well involve a series of Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 departures at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
A longer, more detailed test is planned for the first quarter of 2007.
Virgin Atlantic is also discussing plans for similar trials at the international airports in San Francisco and Los Angeles and JFK in New York.
“Towing aircraft from a stand substantially reduces the amount of time they need to taxi with their engines running and reduces the time spent queuing before takeoff,” said Jill Brady, General Counsel, Virgin Atlantic. “Starting grids will also reduce congestion around stands, meaning that aircraft that have recently landed will not have to wait, with their engines running, to get onto the stand.”
Local communities will also benefit from the “starting grids,” as they would help lower noise levels and generate cleaner air.