Scandinavian Airlines carries out Europe's first transatlantic green approach flight
SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A330
Sat 8 Dec 2007 – A SAS Scandinavian Airlines’ Airbus A330 on a flight from New York’s Newark Airport has made a ‘green approach’ landing at Stockholm-Arlanda Airport, a first for both a transatlantic crossing and an Airbus aircraft. The procedure is estimated to save around 150kg of aviation fuel and 470kg of CO2, as well as reduce surrounding noise levels.
The Continuous Descent Approach (CDA), or ‘green approach’, is undergoing testing by SAS in partnership with the airport and LFV, the state-owned operator of Sweden’s airports. It is being undertaken as part of AIRE (Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions), an emissions and noise reduction programme instigated by the European Commission and the US Federal Aviation Administration.
The CDA involves the aircraft gliding down from cruise altitude to its approach path. “The approach carried out at Arlanda today was very easy for us pilots,” reported Sigmund Lockert, Airbus A340/330 Fleet Chief Pilot for SAS and First Officer on the flight. “The aircraft’s Flight Management System was automatically flying the whole approach routing and the passengers perceived the approach as nothing but smooth and quiet.”
SAS will continue to test green approaches on transatlantic flights from Chicago and New York to Stockholm arriving on weekend off-peak slots. In a future optimized Air Traffic Management system, and assuming all flights would conduct CDAs, the airline estimates annual savings of 492 tons of fuel and 1,550 tons of CO2 emissions.
“This is a big step for the aviation industry and Scandinavian Airlines is proud to once again lead the way when it comes to environmental issues,” said Lars Sandahl Sørensen, CEO of SAS International. “Next year, we will continue with this type of demonstration as we are truly committed to support research in this area and make all SAS International flights as environmentally friendly as possible in the future.”
Around 2,000 green approaches have already taken place on smaller B737 aircraft. “The tests conducted to date have been so successful that LFV has now decided to make green approaches a permanent practice where technically possible and taking other air traffic into account,” says Niclas Gustavsson, Business Developer at the Air Navigation Services Division of LFV.
Meanwhile, LFV Stockholm-Arlanda is to apply for a new local environmental permit for the airport’s operations as it says the existing permit is difficult to understand and contains different conditions “that sometimes do not match each other”. In addition, says LFV, aviation emissions are in the process of being brought into the European Union Emission Trading Scheme and therefore should not be part of the airport’s local permit conditions.
The task of applying for a new permit is expected to take three years, during which time environmental work at the airport will focus on reducing energy use, partnering with airlines to reduce emissions and regional collaboration aimed at improving ground transport services.
In addition to a maximum number of take-offs and landings, Stockholm-Arlanda says it is the only airport in the world that also has a ceiling on CO2 and other emissions. All air traffic and all ground traffic to and from the airport must fit below this ceiling, which is set at an equivalent to emissions from 1990 operations when the airport handled 15 million passengers, compared to a present 18 million.
When the current conditions were adopted by the Swedish government 15 years ago, it was thought that trains and other public transport systems would attract more passengers but, says LFV, the infrastructure has not kept pace. The Swedish Environmental Court recently rejected a change to the emissions ceiling, a ruling which is being challenged by LFV Stockholm-Arlanda.