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Hitching a ride on the jet stream could save flight fuel says University of Reading researcher

Flights could use less fuel if they followed wind patterns says the research. Picture: xlibber via Flickr

A TEAM of local scientists is hoping their new discovery could help the planet.

Researchers at the University of Reading have found that airlines could save fuel and reduce emissions by hitching a ride on the jet stream.

They found that commercial flights between New York and London could have used up to 16% less fuel, if they made better use of fast-moving winds.

According to the University, by following tailwinds and avoiding headwinds, aircraft could follow more flexible flight paths.

Cathie Wells, a PhD researcher at the University of Reading and lead author of the research, said: “Current transatlantic flight paths means aircraft are burning more fuel and emitting more carbon dioxide than they need to.

“Although winds are taken into account to some degree when planning routes, considerations such as reducing the total cost of operating the flight are currently given a higher priority than minimising the fuel burn and pollution.”

Professor Paul Williams, co-author, added: “Simple tweaks to flight paths are far cheaper and can offer benefits immediately.

“This is important, because lower emissions from aviation are urgently needed to reduce the future impacts of climate change.”

Aviation is currently responsible for 2.4% of all human-caused carbon emissions, however the scientists found that taking advantage of the winds could save 200 kilometres worth of fuel per flight.

The study was led by the University of Reading in collaboration with the UK National Centre for Earth Observation, the University of Nottingham, and Poll AeroSciences Ltd.

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