Mumbai: Continuing its struggle against rising aviation costs, National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, or Nacil, which runs Air India, is implementing a computerized flight planning system that would potentially save about $198 million annually (about Rs950 crore).

Eye on savings: The new Air India aircraft B700-200 at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. PTI

Iata said the projected savings would come from optimized use of fuel, routes and other cost dynamics as enabled by the planner.

“The basic objective of this is to reduce the usage of fuel," said a senior Nacil executive. “This (the system) will...suggest best routes, weather alerts and even tell you from where to lift the fuel." But, he also said Nacil, which is facing losses of at least Rs3,000 crore in fiscal 2009, does not have information on actual savings achieved by implementing such measures.

The executive, who asked not to be named as he’s not the airline’s official spokesperson, still said the system, on average, saves 6% of an airline’s fuel budget, as claimed by Iata, which is Rs8,000 crore.

Nacil, taking its cue from several other international carriers that are already using the system, has issued a global tender inviting software companies to design the planner for it. This initiative assumes significance in the backdrop of India’s airlines expecting a combined loss of $2 billion in fiscal 2009, mainly because of high jet fuel costs.

An Iata spokesman, who also didn’t want to be named, said Jet Airways India Ltd, the second largest airline in the country by passengers, is the only other carrier in the country to have undergone a fuel efficiency gap analysis. The trade body declined to comment on the outcomes of the studies citing confidentiality.

Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, chief executive of Jet Airways, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The computerized planning system will allow users to build a fuel-efficient flight plan taking into account optimal speed, altitude, gross weight and other specific characteristics of individual aircraft, according to Iata.

Nacil is also setting up an integrated operations control center, or IOCC—a mission control center for an airline.

All activities on the day-of-ops are observed and controlled at the IOCC. Experts from the different business departments involved are aiming at one single goal: to bring the passenger to his or her destination—on time and with minimum costs incurred for the airline.

Operations control, maintenance control, and crew tracking as well as flight dispatch, passenger care, load control, and station control are working together to achieve this target day by day. IOCC allows for centralized decision-making and decentralized, yet coordinated, execution throughout the different business departures of the airline.