CHICAGO (MCT) — Jumbo jets, among the largest airplanes aloft, aren't known for their fuel efficiency.

But a Boeing 747 operated by United Airlines managed Friday to save 1,564 gallons of fuel and 32,656 pounds of carbon emissions during a single flight from Australia to the U.S. by incorporating fuel-sipping technology and practices, including using a gentle descent, that aviation officials hope will one day become the norm.

The fuel savings could have been substantially higher, about 2,600 gallons, if the flight hadn't been forced to skirt a large thunderstorm, said United spokesman Jeffrey Kovick.

The flight was the first made by a U.S. carrier under a program formed by the Federal Aviation Administration and its counterparts in Australia and New Zealand early this year to make air travel greener.

United and Boeing Co., both Chicago based, are involved in the research effort along with Boeing rival Airbus SAS and four airlines based around the Pacific Rim. Air New Zealand plans to conduct the first sustainable biofuels test flight next month using a Boeing 747.