Third wave of green flight trials to get underway in Europe as part of AIRE emissions reduction programme
Thu 15 Nov 2012 – A third series of green flight trials will start early next year under the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) programme. AIRE was first launched in 2007 by the European Commission and the FAA to improve fuel efficiency on flights, lower engine emissions and reduce aircraft noise. Over 10,000 green commercial flights have so far been conducted and SESAR JU (Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking), which manages the European side of the programme, has announced nine new projects that will run until the end of 2014. These integrated flight trials will validate operational procedures to deliver and accelerate innovative air traffic management (ATM) best practices using modern aircraft technology. SESAR says the first two programmes have delivered significant savings of up to 3 per cent on fuel and CO2 emissions. Airbus and its ATM subsidiaries have been selected to take part in seven of the projects.
The nine projects in AIRE III also involve 31 airports, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and airline partners across 14 geographical locations. The demonstrations will build on insights gained through the previous activities and expand the programme’s scope. Under AIRE III, new locations are to be integrated, new partners involved and new areas of efficiency will be trialled so that solutions proven successful can be industrialised quicker and by a wider aviation community.
New locations and demonstrations are planned for Hungary, Italy, Latvia and the South Atlantic that will allow optimisation of terminal and oceanic/en-route operations. In Hungary, the aim is to accomplish more fuel efficient continuous climb departures (CCDs) and continuous descent approaches (CDAs) at Budapest, one of central Europe’s busiest airports. Demonstrations in Riga will aim to prove CO2 and noise level reductions through more direct PBN (performance-based navigation) routes. In the South Atlantic and Italy, CO2 reductions are expected through Flexible or Free route procedures that allow aircraft to choose their optimised route.
AIRE III brings onboard a number of new airlines to the programme, including Air Baltic, Air Berlin, Alitalia, easyJet, SATA, Wizz Air and Thomas Cook Airlines. New ANSPs include ENAV (Italy), HungaroControl (Hungary) and LGS (Latvia).
“I am very satisfied that the SESAR JU is able to continue to support ATM environmental optimisations, allowing operators to achieve significant savings in fuel whilst reducing their environmental footprint,” said Patrick Ky, Executive Director of SESAR JU, which co-finances the projects.
Airbus ATM subsidiaries Airbus ProSky, Quovadis and Metron Aviation, together with EADS division Cassadian, will participate in the trials, including the Riga project. ‘AMBER’ (Arrival Modernisation for Better Efficiency in Riga) will demonstrate green flights using the Bombardier Q400, a first in Europe with a regional aircraft flying RNP-AR procedures. Reductions in CO2 will be quantified on two routes by comparing conventional navigation with direct routings applying PBN procedures in terminal airspace. The project is led by Air Baltic, with consortium members Quovadis and Latvia’s ANSP LGS.
‘Fair Stream’ will pave the way for the use of ‘target-time-of-arrival’ instead of ‘calculated-take-off-time’. The evaluation and validation will be performed on commercial flights arriving at Paris, Munich and Zurich during time periods when traffic load exceeds capacity and the delays are significant. ‘DFlex’ will demonstrate enhanced flexibility to the C-PDS (Collaborative Pre-Departure Sequence) process currently in operation at Paris CDG by allowing flight reordering based on airline’s business requirements. Live trials will be performed to validate slot substitution. This project is led by Air France, with consortium members Régional, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, Aéroports de Paris, DSNA and Airbus ProSky, with Metron one of the subcontractors.
Led by UK ANSP NATS, ‘Topflight’ will develop new procedures designed to allow transatlantic flights from London Heathrow to follow a trajectory as close as possible to their ‘reference business trajectories’ while remaining ‘de-conflicted’ and meeting their Arrival Manager sequenced times of arrival. Other consortium members include NAV Canada and British Airways.
The ‘CANARIAS’ project (CO2 And Noise Approach Reduction for International Aviation Sustainability) will take advantage of RNP capabilities for a large variety of aircraft to demonstrate reduction of track miles, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions through the implementation of RNP-AR approaches at Lanzarote and La Palma airports. The project is led by Quovadis, with consortium members AENA, easyJet, Thomas Cook Airlines and Air Berlin.
Other flight and air traffic efficiency projects include ‘New Bridge’ and ‘ATC Full Datalink’, the latter being led by ENAV.