The NAV CANADA Northern Radar Program saw seven new-generation radar surveillance systems installed in the Canadian North (photo: NAV CANADA)
Fri 30 Oct 2009 – Canada’s air navigation service provider NAV CANADA has estimated that improved efficiencies achieved through new technologies and procedures will save 8.4 million tonnes of aviation greenhouse gas emissions and C$3 billion (US$2.8bn) in fuel costs for the period 2009 to 2016. A large proportion of the savings will come from extended coverage of NAV CANADA’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) installation programme. Expanded northern surveillance provided by ADS-B will facilitate more efficient use of polar routes for inter-continental flights, which will significantly reduce flight times and produce estimated savings of 3.6 million tonnes of GHG and over C$1.1 billion (US$1bn) in fuel by 2016.
NAV CANADA, which started operations in 1996, said that 4.3 million tonnes of emissions have already been reduced between 1997 and 2008, saving C$1 billion in fuel costs.
ADS-B extends air traffic surveillance and communication beyond traditional ground-based systems by employing satellite positioning for equipped aircraft. NAV CANADA began installing the infrastructure to support ADS-B around Hudson Bay two years ago, becoming operational in January 2009. The added surveillance allows air traffic controllers to safely separate equipped aircraft by five nautical miles instead of the normal 80. Reduced separations opens up more fuel efficient routes.
NAV CANADA is proceeding with further ADS-B implementation in the eastern Arctic and southern Greenland. This will extend surveillance to parts of the North Atlantic, the busiest oceanic airspace in the world, permitting reduced separation, earlier climbs and more direct routings. It is estimated that Oceanic ADS-B will reduce GHG emissions by 130,000 tonnes over the next seven years.
The ADS-B programme builds on a significant expansion to northern surveillance earlier this decade in which seven new-generation radar systems allowed for a reduction in the aircraft separation requirement in large portions of this airspace.
“The additional radar coverage improves traffic flow and provides better route and altitude assignments in the busy transition zone for aircraft en route to both Europe and Asia,” said NAV CANADA’s Rudy Kellar, Vice President, Operations. “To date, this has reduced GHG emissions by some 450,000 tonnes, with additional savings of 650,000 projected by 2016.”
Other initiatives implemented by NAV CANADA are also expected to result in future savings of emissions and fuel costs. Earlier this decade the company – together with its counterparts in the US and Mexico – implemented Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM), which increased the capacity of the available airspace by reducing the vertical separation requirement from 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet for aircraft flying above 29,000 feet. The emissions and fuel savings are estimated at 4 million tonnes and over C$1.2 billion by 2016.
Area Navigation, also known as RNAV, which allows more direct flight paths rather than routing that only follows ground-based navigational aids, is estimated to provide savings of nearly 1.8 million tonnes over 20 years. Another related fuel and emissions saving initiative, Required Navigation Performance has already been implemented by one airline at 20 airports in Canada. RNP involves ‘short turn’ approaches that feature a constant descent technique that eliminates inefficient step-down approaches.
The findings have been published in the company’s first ‘Progress Report on Collaborative Initiatives for Emissions Reductions’.
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