Consultant report

Aviation fuel efficiency technology assessment (AFETA)

Tecolote Research, Inc. is a private firm specializing in cost estimations for high-technology acquisition programs, with more than 40 years experience supporting U.S. government agencies.

ICCT consulted and worked alongside Tecolote Research, Inc. and a panel of technology advisory committee members on this study, estimating potential efficiency improvements under various scenarios and the resulting cost impact to operators and manufacturers, providing insight into the economic drivers of advanced technology infusion.

This study provides cost estimates categorized by three aircraft types (regional jet, single aisle, and small twin aisle) and two EIS dates (2024 and 2034). Using NASA and DoD-approved models, it applies a framework for incorporating emerging technologies into Deployment Scenarios (DS), labeled Evolutionary, Moderate, and Aggressive, corresponding to increasing pressure to reduce fuel burn, enabling the characterization of the marginal operator and manufacturer costs impacts for incremental improvements.

Key findings of this study include:

  • The development of incrementally more fuel-efficient new aircraft types increases overall manufacturing and development costs while providing fuel and maintenance savings.
  • Overall, the results suggest that the fuel burn of new aircraft types can be reduced by approximately 25% in 2024 and 40% in 2034 in a cost-effective manner compared to the reference aircraft, as defined by seven years of operation and a discount rate of 9%, the estimated cost of capital for airlines.
  • This study was based on implementing currently identified technologies that could be matured in time for deployment; it does not consider aggressive or exotic technologies that may be able to achieve more aggressive reductions.
  • Total ownership costs (TOC) were dominated by operator capital expenditures (51%-57% of TOC) and fuel costs (36%-42%), while maintenance costs played a relatively small role in determining net costs across scenarios (5%-8%).
  • Total ownership cost savings increase over time, with substantial fuel and maintenance savings accruing beyond the base seven year operational period used in the study.
  • Among the various assumptions investigated, the net TOC impacts of advanced aircraft were found to be most sensitive to assumptions about market capture.


Engineering & manufacturing