Air France joins Lufthansa and China Airlines in supporting high-altitude IAGOS climate monitoring project
Instrumentation being installed on the Air France A340
Tue 25 June 2013 – Air France has installed atmospheric measuring equipment on an Airbus A340 to aid international climate research. The European IAGOS (In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System) project uses commercial aircraft to obtain atmospheric data at cruising altitudes in order to monitor climate and atmospheric pollution on a global scale. EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) certified, onboard instruments measure the levels of several types of greenhouse gases and aerosol and cloud particles. The resulting data is made available to weather centres and scientists around the world, and is used in the study of carbon cycles and to check CO2 emissions in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol. Lufthansa and China Airlines have already installed the equipment and will shortly be joined by Cathay Pacific and Iberia.
The Air France aircraft will serve, among other destinations, the Caribbean and West Africa, areas of the world currently not widely served by the other airlines in the project. Data collection started on June 15 during flights between Paris CDG and Niamey in West Africa. Air France has a previous link with the project, having been involved with the related MOZAIC programme between 1994 and 2004, which measured ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and water vapour at high altitude.
Long-haul passenger aircraft are particularly suited to this type of research as unlike traditional observation methods such as probe balloons or satellites, these aircraft fly for extended periods at cruising altitude. The data could be obtained by using special research aircraft but only on a piecemeal basis and at great expense. The numerous flight frequencies make frequent and diverse data collection possible.
In Air France’s case, the measurements will be automatically transferred to the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) via a mobile phone integrated in the system.
Lufthansa was the first airline to join the IAGOS project, in cooperation with the Jülich Research Centre, equipping an Airbus A340-300 in July 2011. The project is integrated into the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) roadmap for research infrastructures. According to the scientific panel appointed by the BMBF to oversee the project, IAGOS will close an important knowledge gap and result in more accurate climate forecasts.
In July 2012, Taiwanese carrier China Airlines similarly equipped an A340 with the instrumentation. Cathay Pacific A330 is scheduled for IAGOS installation next month and an A340 of Iberia for October 2013.
In other Air France news, the carrier has completed the renewal of 3,650 hold baggage containers on its long-haul fleet. The new, lighter replacements are made of composite fibre panels rather than aluminium, each weighing only 72kgs compared with 83kgs before. The reduction in aircraft weight reduces CO2 emissions by 8,000 tonnes per year, corresponding to 2,500 tonnes of fuel.