ENGAGE and AMBER air navigation projects to save fuel and reduce emissions reach successful conclusions
airBaltic Bombardier Q400s carried out Europe's first turboprop PBN procedures
Thu 23 Oct 2014 – Canadian air navigation service provider (ANSP) NAV CANADA and its partners report they have successfully concluded the second phase of a fuel saving and emissions reduction project that trialled varying speed (Mach) and altitude flights transiting unsurveilled North Atlantic airspace. The ENGAGE II project was conducted in partnership with Air France and in conjunction with UK ANSP NATS, and four other airlines – KLM, British Airways, United and Delta – also took part in this phase. NAV CANADA estimates average fuel and emissions savings of between one and two per cent per flight, which translates to a reduction of 200-400 litres of fuel and 525-1,050 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions. The project was supported by the EU’s SESAR Joint Undertaking (JU), which has been involved in a Latvian green flight project, AMBER, that has also just concluded.
The ENGAGE II project was designed to promote the sustainable implementation and expand the scope of the concepts trialled during the first phase that took place in 2011 (see article), and involved 210 flights.
“While validating the overall safety of varying oceanic flight profiles, we were able to replicate the fuel savings and GHG emissions reductions achieved in ENGAGE I,” explained Larry Lachance, VP Operations at NAV CANADA.
“Moreover, we were able to demonstrate the viability of a wider implementation of these procedures and offering increased flexibility in the North Atlantic airspace. With close to 400,000 flights each year, the potential economic and environmental benefits are substantial.”
The Canadian ANSP expects ENGAGE II to pave the way for significant changes in North Atlantic (NAT) operations, where there is requirement for ‘fixed Mach’. A June meeting in Paris of the North Atlantic Systems Planning Group – a body established by ICAO – endorsed a Proposal for Amendment to the NAT Regional Supplementary Procedures that would allow some aircraft to fly at variable speeds.
A proposal by Iceland, which provides air traffic services for a portion of the NAT from Reykjavik, to remove the requirement for ‘fixed Mach’ is now proceeding to ICAO for formal processing and documentation.
“The ENGAGE projects were excellent examples of collaboration between ANSPs and airlines to reduce the aviation industry’s environmental footprint,” noted Lachance. “We look forward to further advances in technology that will have still greater impacts on flight efficiencies in the NAT and across the globe.”
ENGAGE II was undertaken and supported by the SESAR JU as part of its participation in the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) programme set up by the EU and the US FAA in 2007.
The SESAR JU co-sponsored AMBER (Arrival Modernization for Better Efficiency in Riga) project, also conducted within the AIRE programme, involved the introduction of new arrival procedures at Riga International Airport to reduce emissions and noise levels at the airport and close vicinity. The project involved trialling satellite-based Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) by airBaltic Bombardier Q400 turboprops, the first regional aircraft in Europe to use PBN approaches. The approaches also allowed for Continuous Descent Operations from cruise to final approach.
Using PBN, the new trajectory is up to 30 nautical miles shorter than previously, that enabled CO2 emissions reductions of up to 300 kilograms on each of the 124 Q400 flights carried out. When rolled out fully, annual CO2 reductions of 5,000 tonnes are expected to be achieved by airBaltic.
The airline’s VP Flight Operations, Capt Pauls Calitis, said the procedures would be available to any airline flying to Riga with the relevant aircraft equipment. “They will also be suitable for our brand new Bombardier CSeries jets, which will be introduced into service in 2015, and will provide further benefits for operations out of Riga, on top of their unmatched fuel efficiency,” he added.
The project was carried out in partnership with Airbus ProSky and LGS, Latvia’s ANSP.