NATS on course to hit first annual environmental performance target set by its world-first flight efficiency metric
Fri 3 Aug 2012 – The UK’s air navigation service provider (ANSP) NATS has released the latest results of its performance data under its 3Di flight efficiency metric introduced in January. During its first six months in operation – to June – 3Di has achieved an indexed score of 24, as based on the scale set by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Scores range from 0, which represents zero inefficiency to over 100, with most flights typically in the range between 15 and 35. The CAA has set a target indexed score, or par value, of 24 for 2012 and 2013 so NATS is on track to meet its required performance target for this year. Under the scheme, a world first, NATS stands to be financially rewarded for exceeding the target or penalised for failing to deliver the expected efficiency gains. The 3Di tool is designed to deliver 600,000 tonnes of CO2 savings over the next three years – the equivalent to 10,000 flights from London to New York, says NATS.
3Di has been developed by NATS in conjunction with the CAA and also airlines, which stand to save up to £120 million ($180m) in fuel costs at today’s prices as well as help improve their environmental performance.
The tool assists air traffic controllers in routing aircraft as close to the environmental optimum as possible by accurately measuring the efficiency of each flight in UK airspace. It compares the actual trajectory that an aircraft takes (from real radar data) with an optimal profile to minimise fuel burn and emissions. This means it measures the benefits delivered by air traffic controllers of a smooth, continuous descent or climb, cruise levels as requested by pilots and the most direct point-to-point routings, explains NATS.
The biggest improvements in performance are expected to be delivered by changes to the design and operation of airspace and by improving access to shared airspace, although day-to-day changes to the way air traffic controllers direct aircraft can also have a positive impact on the 3Di score.
“Our challenge will be to do this in the face of factors that affect the score negatively, such as the volume of flights within our network, limited runway capacity which leads to aircraft holding and bad weather,” says NATS. “Adapting our operation to become more resilient to these external factors will help drive the score down.”
Commenting on the half-year indexed score, NATS’ Head of Environmental Affairs, Ian Jopson, said: “We introduced 3Di because we want to deliver a service to airlines that not only helps them save money in difficult economic times, but also improves the environmental performance of the aviation industry.
“As such, it is hugely encouraging to see that we are having a genuine impact and delivering real savings already, despite the seasonal increases in traffic levels.”