Edwin I. Colodny, chairman and president of USAir, called on the aircraft industry today to develop and produce a new fuel-efficient airplane designed for use on routes of less than 1,000 miles.
There is ongoing development of new airplanes using the latest technology, Colodny told an international aviation conference sponsored by Lloyd's of London Press. The A300 currently being produced by a European consortium already incorporates much of the latest technology that makes planes more fuel-efficient, such as high-bypass-ratio jet engines and lighter and more durable materials. And Boeing's future 757 and 767 aircraft will use even more when they become available in the next three years.
In addition to the design and development of these entirely new aircraft, some manufacturers are making changes on existing models to produce more efficient airplanes, he said. But all the work has gone into producing large planes, seating at least 175 passengers and generally more, Colodny complained.
This is happening while two-thirds of all U.S. domestic air passengers board planes for less than 1,000 miles, Colodny noted, short- and medium-range trips where passenger demand and economics don't require those large planes.
"Which of the new-technology aircraft is designed for the airlines that serve those markets?" he asked. "Not a one.
"We need a new-technology aircraft . . . now more than ever, we need the most fuel-efficient aircraft possible," the company president said. Altering schedules to fly fewer flights to the smaller cities with bigger planes would be a mistake, he added. "If we don't maintain frequency, we're going to have the largest fleet of corporate jets ever seen," he warned.
Since other airlines fly similar short and medium routes, Colodny said the market for a small aircraft would be several hundred in this decade, and would exceed 2,000 in the next 15 years. Right now, a total of 3,530 of this size plane fly domestically and abroad, all using the old technology and consuming about half the world's jet fuel supply.
The fuel savings of then, more-efficient aircraft are potentially enormous. If USAir could improve fuel efficiency by just 5 percent a year starting in 1983, it could reduce fuel consumption by 15 million gallons a year, or $85 million worth over five years, he said.
To demonstrate that the technology is available to produce the plane he wants, Colodny said USAir and private firm collected information on the aircraft technology and molded it into a specification for aircraft makers' consideration. "The technology is here," he said. "Only the aircraft is missing."
In another address, Gerald P. Emmer, director of petroleum allocation regulations for the Department of Energy, said DOE expects the jet fuel supply to continue to be adequate in the future. But the price projection is "hardly rosy," he said.
Using a variety of assumptions, Emmer forcast a price per gallon of jet fuel of $1.08 by the end of this year and $1.40 by the end of 1981.