Lufthansa's just gone through an interesting exercise in weight reduction aboard one of their Airbus A340 long-distance airliners. Aviation Week reports:
How much do all the loose items on board a long-haul airliner weigh (passengers and crew excluded)? After removing, weighing and cataloging everything not bolted down in the cockpit, cabin and cargo hold of an Airbus A340-300 just returned to Frankfurt from Rio de Janeiro, Lufthansa can say the answer is - almost 4 metric tons.
Lufthansa A340-300 airliner (image courtesy of Wikipedia)
After a team of almost 40 people spent more than 7 hours stripping the A340, Lufthansa plans to use the data to decide what should remain in board, and in what quantity. Although it does not yet know precisely what can be eliminated, the airline believes up to 10% of the items cataloged could be stripped from the aircraft, and estimates every 100kg [220 pounds] of weight removed would reduce an aircraft's fuel costs by €2.6 million (almost $4 million) a year.
There's more at the link, including an interesting description of how 'grooved paint' may save even more fuel.
Strange to think that a plane already weighing (and carrying) so many hundreds of tons can save so much fuel by offloading a relatively tiny proportion of that weight . . . but I guess that's airline economics!