Two air navigation initiatives announced that could save over 13 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually

Two air navigation initiatives announced that could save over 13 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually | Aviation & Environment Summit, air navigation, continuous descent approaches, performance-based navigation

PBN arrival procedures have been trialled at Brisbane Airport
Thu 2 Apr 2009 – During the course of the Aviation & Environment Summit just concluded in Geneva, two initiatives involving Performance-based Navigation (PBN) and Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs) were announced. PBN is an ICAO-led air navigation satellite-based concept that if implemented worldwide could potentially lead to a cut of 13 million tonnes of CO2 per year. The European aviation industry has launched a joint action plan designed to reduce aircraft CO2 emissions by over 500,000 tonnes annually by implementing CDAs at up to 100 airports across Europe by the end of 2013.
PBN sets clear performance requirements for any given flight operation, involving a major shift from conventional ground-based navigation aids, for example VOR, NDB and ILS, and procedures to satellite-based navigation aids and area navigation procedures through the application of Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP). ICAO’s objective is to redefine the regional differences of various RNAV and RNP specifications into a globally harmonized set of PBN applications. These components should provide a foundation for air traffic management evolutionary developments such as Europe’s SESAR and the US NextGen projects.
As PBN is more accurate, it allows for shorter, more direct routes as well as more efficient take-offs and landings, thus reducing fuel burn, airport and airspace congestion, and aircraft emissions. An added environmental benefit is that consistent precise paths can be routed to avoid noise sensitive areas. Noise levels can often be reduced through the use of optimized profile descents, which allow lower, quieter thrust levels.
The concept also provides safe access to terrain and weather-challenged airports due to very precise lateral and vertical flight path operations.
PBN has already been trialled and an example is that involving Qantas and Australia’s air navigation service provider (ANSP) AirServices Australia in which PBN arrival procedures have been developed. Phase 1 included approaches for Brisbane Airport involving Qantas Boeing 737s. In the first year, the airline flew 1,612 PBN approaches to the airport in low visibility conditions, which, in total, reduced the normal distance flown by 17,300 nautical miles and reduced CO2 emissions by 650,000kg.
PBN is therefore not a new concept and ICAO back in 2007 urged its Member States to have PBN implementation plans ready by 2009. This new announcement, described as a ‘declaration’ by ICAO and industry stakeholders, “calls upon all leaders of the civil aviation community to actively implement PBN in accordance with ICAO provisions”.
A coordination action plan to assist States in the implementation of PBN according to ICAO criteria has been drawn up and all ICAO regional offices have established PBN task forces. A Global PBN Task Force, made up of States and industry partners, is assisting with the implementation.
“The sooner we implement PNB, the sooner we will reap its enormous benefits,” Roberto Kobeh González, President of the ICAO Council, told conference delegates via a video link.
The CDA plan was jointly launched by aviation industry and regulatory bodies, including ACI Europe, CANSO, IATA and Eurocontrol, and has been developed by 19 organizations and companies across Europe. It represents the broadest introduction of the CDA process undertaken to date.
CDA, where aircraft fly a smoother more direct approach into an airport rather than the classical stepped approach, have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by between 160 to 470kg per flight through reduced fuel burn. CDAs have already been trialled successfully at a number of European and US airports, although they have been largely confined to those that are less congested, or during quieter traffic periods at larger airports.
Like PBN, CDAs also offer noise benefits to residents living around airports, with aircraft noise level reductions of between one and five decibels.
Industry representatives said that CDAs were a win-win in that they saved airlines money in reduced fuel burn and offered significant environmental benefits.
Links: has many video clips on news, presentations and interviews that took place during the Aviation & Environment Summit, which can be seen and downloaded here on its website. Included are: has also uploaded various interviews to YouTube at



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