2009 Articles

OCT 18 2009
DHL's Latest Addition

Nestled in the heart of the East Midlands, the airport has maintained a long-standing question mark over its location and name. Situated in Leicestershire, with a Derby postcode and the nearest city being Nottingham, it's anyone's guess as to who can rightfully claim the airport as its own? However, its geographic location lends itself perfectly to connecting to the surrounding transport infrastructure and with this in mind, DHL Express chose East Midlands Airport (EMA) for its home. Eight hundred employees are still very happy about that.

DHL established its UK based cargo operation at the airport in 1989 and moved to “Cargo West”, as it’s known, in 2000. Following an extension to the runway (currently measuring 2,893 metres in length) the airport can now take the largest aircraft in the world and has indeed done exactly that. During late November 2005, the Russian built Antonov An-225 graced the airport with its presence and attracted in a crowd of thousands to watch it depart early one dark Saturday morning.

The airport is a funny place really, pass by or spend a short amount of time at the airport during the day and you might be forgiven for thinking that it’s some sort of quiet backwater type of airport. The occasional (but soon to leave) Easyjet Airbus or Ryanair 737 might cause a brief stir but other than that, it’s fairly sedate.

However, as darkness begins to fall at this time of year, small (or maybe not so small) signs of life start to appear. A Lufthansa MD-11F usually starts the proceedings, coming all the way from Cincinnati, closely followed by UPS 767Fs, Maersk 767Fs and Icelandair Cargo 757Fs. You see, East Midlands Airport really does come to life at night. Try having a look at cargo west during the day and if you’re lucky, you might see one, maybe two aircraft on the apron. These mysterious aircraft arrive and depart whilst most of us are asleep and, if you didn’t know better, you’d never know they had even been there at all.

However, with DHL being the most prominent cargo operator at EMA it probably comes in for the most criticism from the local population. Living underneath the approach path, some of the residents have voiced issues about the noise level from the arriving and departing aircraft. DHL usually has around eleven or so weekday night arrivals, and subsequent departures, so some may argue that the residents have a point.

DHL is addressing this issue and, with the introduction of the first of six new Boeing 767 Extended Range Freighter (ERF) aircraft, they will cease operations of the noisier Lufthansa MD-11F at the airport during October 2009. I witnessed a departure from one of the new 767ERFs at close quarters and they are noticeably quieter. A massive plus for the local population and one for which DHL deserves a big pat on the back.

The 767ERFs are the first of its type to be certified in Europe by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and three of the aircraft (G-DHLE, G-DHLF and G-DHLG for those who like this kind of detail) will be operational by the time you read this

The blended winglet technology and improved efficiency engines makes the 767ERF stand out as one of the most efficient and environmental friendly aircraft of its class with the winglets alone contributing to approximately a 4% reduction in fuel usage. Operating the Boeing 767ERFs DHL expects to save about 3,500-4,000 litres of fuel on a typical trip from the EU to the U.S. and back. Calculated for all six 767ERF aircraft on the transatlantic route, five times a week, 52 weeks a year, this would amount to fuel savings of approximately 6,000,000 litres of fuel per year.

Another current “hot topic” for world governments and the media alike is carbon emissions. Aircraft operators have come under increased criticism from certain groups over the past few years and so, with the introduction of the 767ERF, DHL has made a massive leap towards addressing those who criticise the industry. The 767ERF demonstrates very good CO2 efficiency figures and with the winglets it emits around 3,150 tons less CO2 annually than without them. In comparison to the MD-11F aircraft, which has previously been used on DHL’s transatlantic routes, the Boeing 767ERF uses 53% less fuel per trip and produces 53% less CO2. With such characteristics, the 767ERF plays a significant role in Deutsche Post DHL’s global GoGreen strategy. This forecasts an improvement in the group’s carbon efficiency by 30 percent, to be achieved by the year 2020 through re-fleeting measures.

"By introducing the Boeing 767ERF into our East Midlands based DHL air fleet we are following our smart technology approach, which aims at achieving high efficiency gains through the use of the most modern technology available, wherever possible.“ says Paul Bishop, Managing Director of DHL Air (UK).

"Thanks to their advanced engine technology and design the Boeing 767ERF are quieter than aircraft they are replacing, which we recognise is an important issue to the local community.

“As a major local employer we take our responsibilities seriously. Our investment in these new Boeing aircraft and the winglet technology is testament to our commitment both to our operation in East Midlands and to helping address the environmental issues that confront the global community today.”

Taking a closer look around the aircraft it’s plain to see why DHL is justifiably proud of it's new acquisition. The huge winglets really do stand out and give the 767ERF a much more “sporty” and modern appearance while the cockpit is roomy and largely computerised.

Walking into the cargo hold of the aircraft, it does seem vast when empty, in fact, larger than I expected. I remember walking into the belly of the An-225 and pondering, “it’s not as big as I thought”, but I didn’t get this feeling with the 767ERF. The aircraft was fitted with concrete ballast for the training flight during my visit , but normally it can carry a payload of up to 59 tons to a maximum range of 6,025 kilometers. Okay, so it doesn’t have the oversize capacity of its larger eastern European counterparts but then that’s not DHL's role.

I came away from my visit impressed by the Company’s positive attitude towards the noise pollution issues affecting the local population and their mission to reduce CO2 emissions worldwide. DHL has a vast, modern and now far greener operation at EMA and this represents a significant investment in the future of the company and our planet. Also, as a major employer in these difficult financial times, is a great asset to the local community.

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