Science, Tech & Environment

Geo answer: Belgium

For today's Geo Quiz --- we're slowing down... going slow has its virtues.

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According to ancient Greek logic. The turtle beats the hare. American drivers have been encouraged to keep their speed down to 55 to conserve.

But stretching out airplane flights?

A national airline in Europe announced plans to slow down its flights in an effort to cut fuel costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This northwestern European country has a Dutch and a French speaking region. People here have something of a reputation for loving their waffles...

Frites are another culinary treat among locals...steak frites, moules-frites, that's mussels with frites, or plain old frites smothered in mayonnaise.

Delicious!

But don't get off track...try and name the country whose national airline is slowing down.

And by the way ... take your time on this quiz...

Time's up on our Geo Quiz...

The country we were looking for in northwestern Europe that's famous for Flemish and frites....is Belgium.

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Now their national airline has come up with an innovative conservation plan as the World's David Leveille explains:

Like other major airlines, Brussels Airlines faces sharply rising jet fuel costs. The company considered boosting ticket prices on flights to its 50 European destinations. But instead the national airline reviewed its flight operations for ways to save money.

Geert Sciot is a Brussels Airlines spokesman:

?We have detected about 100 possible things that we can introduce, going from reducing the speed of our flights, to saving weight on board the aircraft.?

The most intriguing idea on the list of 100 cost saving initiatives is slowing the planes down. As Brussels Airlines figures it --- that alone will significantly cut fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

?What we have calculated is that we will decrease the average speed from 7,000 kilometers an hour to 69 for the Avro aircraft -- which we operate on the European flight sector.

Translation: that's 435 miles per hour down to 429 a reduction of just 5 or 6 miles per hour. That's not enough to affect the plane's ability to fly...

?and as a result from twenty-eight aircraft altogether on a yearly basis, this will result in a fuel-saving of one-point-one million euros -- so that's almost two million dollars on a yearly basis.?

Two million dollars is no small change. One the other hand --- flights WILL take longer but only by a minute or two. The Belgian airline has other fuel conservation ideas up its sleeve.
?Just to give you one example on a Boeing 737 for example we have a water tank.?

Each tank holds about 10 gallons of drinking water for passengers on long flights to places like Athens or Moscow. But passengers on short hops, says Sciot, may not be so thirsty:

?We have monitored the water use on board our aircraft and flights and for short flights one hour from Brussels we don't need 40 liter so we can save there 10 15 20 kilograms.?

Less weight means less fuel needed to operate the flight.

Other ideas to shed pounds will be tested out: They range from adding angled tips to wings to reduce drag on take-off ...Ditching the built in stairs and, bad news for information junkies, fewer newspapers.

Don't worry says spokesman Scott, they're not tossing those glossy airline magazines that surely someone must enjoy reading...

And the airline has no plans to reduce the weight limit for checked luggage and carry on bags stuffed full of duty free gifts that accompany most flyers.

In short he says the green initiatives won't undermine the "joy" of air travel:

?We don't want to endanger the safety of operations the safety of operations is always the first concern that we have and also the passenger comfort.?

Another longer term idea Brussels Airlines is pitching to the European Union is to adopt more harmonized air routes.

Planes now typically fly zigzag routes over Europe as they navigate over different countries' airspaces.

Straightening out those might further reduce polluting emissions and promote environmentally friendlier skies.