Lightening the load


Lufthansa Cargo reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by using ultra-light containers

When an aircraft takes off, every superfluous kilogram of weight it carries has an impact on fuel burn. In an effort to lower its fuel consumption and improve the environmental balance, Lufthansa Cargo is therefore focusing on reducing weight by using containers made of lightweight composite materials.

For example, it uses new LD3 standard containers with side panels that are made of reinforced polypropylene honeycomb, making the containers up to 15 per cent lighter than their standard aluminium counterparts. In addition, they are more robust and require fewer repairs. Since the autumn of 2011, Lufthansa Cargo has been replacing its aluminium containers with the new, lightweight version. In February 2013, more than 65 per cent of the LD3 containers used on the lower cargo deck of the passenger and cargo aircraft in the Lufthansa Group fleet were new-generation containers. Since the difference in weight amounts to a good 13 kg per container, this significantly lightens the load. More than 80 per cent of the containers now carried on each flight are lightweight containers, resulting in an annual reduction in COemissions of more than 5,000 tonnes.

By the end of 2013, Lufthansa Cargo aims to replace all its 5,600 or so LD3 standard containers with the lighter alternative. This will lower annual fuel consumption by a good 2,160 tonnes, thus saving about 6,800 tonnes of CO2 per year. The Lufthansa Group will then operate one of the largest “fleets” of ultra-light containers worldwide. And it will also move one step closer towards meeting one of its ambitious environmental targets: to reduce specific emissions by the year 2020 by 25 per cent compared with 2011.