Sustainable Development

We Now Fly Paperless

Better for the pilots, better for the planet

Chief Operations and Service Delivery Officer of Cathay Pacific Airways, Mr Greg Hughes (right), and Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Shun were showcasing this innovative technology in a flight simulator

Our cockpits have recently gone paperless, saving thousand tonnes of carbon emissions in the process – all with the help of an app. Bulky manuals and documents are now a weighty thing of the past.

Flights run on fuel and paper – fuel to power the aircraft and reams of paper to keep it on course, plot the best flight path, and land safely at its destination. As we steer to the digital era of flight operation, we eliminate the paper and cut the fuel we burn carrying them.

We’ve all seen pilots striding through the terminal carrying flight cases, so you might reasonably wonder how much paper can be saved? More than you might imagine.

70 kg of paperwork were needed in the cockpit on every flight

Those cases hold just a small percentage of the 70kg of manuals and paperwork needed in the cockpit on every flight. Multiply that by 525 flights a day and 365 days a year and we are saving 13.4 million kilograms of paper weight per year – which equates to more than 1 million litres of aviation fuel every year. It means reducing about 4000 tonnes of carbon emissions, i.e. the emissions of over 5000 trips from Hong Kong to London!

As of December 2019, all Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon cockpits are completely paperless, thanks to the Cathay Pacific digital flight and weather application Flight Folder. The interactive Flight Folder app gives pilots everything they had on paper in digital form – from pre-flight notes and flight progress reports, to navigation, fuel and weather data, and much more. With this app, all the information can be updated in real time and is readily searchable, so pilots can make decisions easier and faster than ever.

The Flight Folder is just one of the many ways we’re making air travel safer, smoother and kinder to the planet. We fly one of the world’s most fuel-efficient, long-haul passenger fleets, which includes 36 Airbus A350s, and they are 25% more fuel efficient than aircrafts from the previous generation. Our investments in efficiency have led to a 28% improvement in carbon intensity since 1998. The accumulative reduction almost equates to two years of Hong Kong’s emissions!

Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Observatory gathered on 9 December 2019 to officiate the launch.