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DHL EXPRESS SHAPES THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABLE AVIATION

Twelve zero-emission eCargo aircraft will form the world’s first electric Express network, creating a sea change in commercial aviation.

DHL Express, the world’s leading express service provider has ordered 12 fully electric ‘Alice’ eCargo planes from Eviation, the Seattle-area based global manufacturer of all-electric aircraft.

DHL is aiming to set up an unparalleled electric Express network and make a pioneering step into a sustainable aviation future. Eviation’s Alice is the world’s leading fully electric aircraft, which enables airlines – both cargo and passenger – to operate a zero-emission fleet. Alice’s first flight will happen in late 2021, with Eviation expecting to deliver the electric aircraft to DHL Express in 2024.

Alice can be flown by a single pilot and will carry 1,200 kilograms. It will require 30 minutes or less to charge per flight hour and have a maximum range of up to 815 kilometers (440 nautical miles). Alice will operate in all environments currently serviced by piston and turbine aircraft. Alice’s advanced electric motors have fewer moving parts to increase reliability and reduce maintenance costs. Its operating software constantly monitors flight performance to ensure optimal efficiency.

The aircraft is ideal for feeder routes and requires less investment in station infrastructure. The Alice can be charged while loading and unloading operations occur, ensuring quick turnaround times that maintain DHL Express’ tight schedules.

John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express, said:

“We firmly believe in a future with zero-emission logistics, therefore our investments always follow the objective of improving our carbon footprint. On our way to clean logistics operations, the electrification of every transport mode plays a crucial role and will significantly contribute to our overall sustainability goal of zero emissions.

“Founded in 1969, DHL Express has been known as a pioneer in the aviation industry for decades. We have found the perfect partner with Eviation as they share our purpose, and together we will take off into a new era of sustainable aviation.”

Reducing emissions with sustainable aviation fuel

One of our key aviation initiatives is to significantly reduce our carbon emissions through the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). We are investing €60 million in SAF at our East Midlands Hub until mid-2022, which will save 70,000 tons of CO2.

The renewable part of this innovative new SAF is made from used cooking oil, while avoiding palm oil, which is blended with traditional jet fuel. It will be used for around 200 network flights a week departing from the UK.

This is our first step towards our ambitious 2030 target of meeting at least 30 per cent of our global fuel needs in aviation through sustainable fuels.

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Optimising and updating our fleet

For our current aircraft fleet, optimising fuel is incredibly important because it reduces the emissions from our flights. We use a range of measures to do this, including:

  • Using minimal thrust on descent (continuous descent)
  • Flying at a slower speed (cost index)
  • Positioning freight towards the back of the aircraft to make it more fuel-efficient (centre of gravity).

The changes are having significant benefits – we saved over 25 million kilograms of carbon in Q1 of 2021 alone.

Our fleet renewal strategy replaces older aircraft with modern fuel-efficient alternatives, improving emissions efficiency by up to 18%.

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