European ATM changes seek to lower CO2 emissions

 - November 4, 2008, 4:43 AM

With the goal of saving as much as 470,000 metric tons of fuel each year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched a Flight Efficiency Plan with Eurocontrol and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization to accelerate efficiency improvements to the European air traffic management system. At current fuel prices, IATA estimates that this could save operators as much as $550 million per year and reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft engines by more than 1.5 million metric tons annually.

Improvements Planned
The Flight Efficiency Plan focuses on improvements in the following five areas:

• Enhancing en route airspace design to optimize the distances flown. Program partners have estimated that a reduction of 0.1 percent in distance flown (equivalent to four million nm per year) would yield a savings of $28 million per year.

• Improving airspace utilization with enhanced civil/military cooperation and better coordination of flight planning. Reducing distance flown by 0.7 percent (equivalent of 30 million nm per year) could save approximately $211 million per year, say program partners.

• Improved terminal area procedures, including continuous descent approaches (CDA). Implementing CDAs at 20 percent of Europe’s airports would save $140 million annually, according to IATA.

• Improved airport operations, particularly reducing taxi times. A one-minute reduction in taxi times at Europe’s 50 top airports would save almost $170 million annually.

• Improving awareness of best practices to save fuel.

According to IATA, substantial improvements have already been made in the performance of Europe’s ATM network. Between 1999 and 2007, while traffic grew 25 percent, the total delays caused by lack of ATC capacity decreased by 66 percent.
At the same time, routes flown were shortened on average by just over two nautical miles. These improvements cut  CO2 output by 3.5 million metric tons
per year.