NATS records over 600,000 tonnes of carbon reductions in 2014 as it strives towards 2020 target
Fri 5 Jun 2015 – The UK air navigation services provider NATS reports that it enabled savings of more than 600,000 tonnes of CO2 during the course of its 2014-15 financial year, its best ever annual performance. The ANSP says this was achieved through more efficient air traffic control procedures, improved use of airspace and innovative technology, including the increased use of continuous descent operations (CDOs) at UK airports. In 2008, NATS became the industry’s first ANSP to set itself environmental targets within its airspace and aims to reduce average ATM-related CO2 emissions per flight by 10% by 2020 compared to flights in 2006. According to its latest Corporate Responsibility report, last year the company managed to reduce emissions per flight by 4.3%, beating the 4% target it set itself for 2014. However, NATS narrowly missed its annual 3Di airspace efficiency metric target.
“As more people choose to fly, it is NATS’ responsibility to keep the UK’s skies safe, while doing all we can to minimise air traffic management (ATM) related CO2 emissions and disturbance to local communities near airports,” says new CEO Martin Rolfe in the introduction to the report.
Despite being almost half way to NATS’ 2020 emissions target, he says the next half will be far more challenging as “the low hanging fruit has been picked.”
The report highlights that over 300 airspace and procedural changes have been made over the past six years in efforts to find more efficient routes for airlines, which has resulted in CO2 reductions of over 1 million tonnes and fuel savings worth £155 million ($236m). For example, more flexible use of military airspace when not in use has enabled CO2 reductions of 30,000 tonnes. The introduction of a tool called GAATS+ that allows controllers to offer airlines the most efficient altitudes across the North Atlantic has resulted in further reductions of over 110,000 tonnes of CO2.
Last year, NATS became the first ANSP to adopt the use of near real-time airspace efficiency monitoring using an in-house developed tool called Flight Optimisation System, or FLOSYS. The tool uses real radar data and combines it with the 3Di airspace efficiency metric to produce a graphical representation of every flight in UK airspace, which allows controllers to immediately review performance and identify areas for improvement or best practice techniques to share.
During the year, NATS also led the launch of a campaign by the Sustainable Aviation industry coalition to monitor and increase the use of CDOs, an aircraft descent technique that reduces noise and emissions, and NATS is now providing CDO performance information to 23 UK airports and eight airlines. The campaign aims to achieve a 5% increase in CDOs across the UK, deliver over 39,000 individual quieter arrivals and a reduction of around 10,000 tonnes of CO2.
Developed in conjunction with the UK CAA, 3Di is an indicator of fuel efficiency for flight profiles flown within UK FIR airspace and every commercial flight has a specific score calculated – the lower the score, the more efficient the flight. Each year all the scores are combined to give a single annual average score and compared to targets set by the CAA. For the first two years it has been in operation – 2012 and 2013 – the target score has been 24.0 and NATS achieved scores of 23.9 and 23.7 respectively, so beating the target. For 2014, the CAA tightened the target to 23.0 and although lower than the previous two years, NATS’ score of 23.2 narrowly missed the new target but was within what is termed the ‘deadband’.
NATS’ Head of Environmental and Community Affairs Ian Jopson said it had been “a fantastic year in reducing CO2 emissions and enabling fuel savings” and pointed to awards the company had received for its programmes.
NATS also reports that energy and water consumption were reduced at its UK sites in 2014, with only 1% of waste going to landfill. It continues to support the Swanwick Lakes Nature Reserve and last year was awarded the Biodiversity Benchmark by the Wildlife Trust for its work in managing the reserve.