MINT concludes series of demonstration flights aimed to reduce emissions and noise around airports
Onboard the Novair Airbus A321 final MINT demonstration flight (photo: Airbus)
Mon 30 Nov 2009 – The series of 10 demonstration flights conducted by the MINT project that has been trialling modern technology and procedures to reduce aircraft emissions and noise concluded last week with results showing average reductions of 518kg of CO2 per landing into Stockholm-Arlanda Airport. The final flight last Wednesday of a Novair Airbus A321 had on board industry and EU stakeholders as well the media. The main purpose of the MINT (Minimum CO2 in Terminal Manoeuvring Area) project is to investigate the potential of the latest navigation systems in reducing flight routings and therefore fuel and emissions savings on landing approaches. The project has been carried out under the management of Europe’s SESAR Joint Undertaking.
MINT builds on the greater navigation accuracy derived from GPS and onboard Flight Management Systems to allow suitably equipped aircraft to perform Required Navigation Performance (RNP) and Continuous Descent Arrival procedures. This is also the first time in Europe that flight trials have fully integrated an element of time control that has enabled the aircraft to fly an optimal trajectory while meeting an air traffic control time ‘gate’, so reducing the need for holding patterns or ‘path stretching’.
Cooperation between Stockholm-Arlanda, Novair, Airbus and LFV, the Swedish air navigation service provider, has resulted in the flights demonstrating a lateral standard deviation of just 22 metres from the intended flight path, which is less than the wing span of an Airbus A321.
During the flight trials carried out over the summer, data was collected from the onboard flight data recorders, logged and analyzed in terms of flight and fuel efficiency, air navigation accuracy performance and the resulting noise impact. Five of the flights also received a time constraint to meet at a waypoint during the descent. The objective was to measure fuel consumption from the different aircraft configurations and weather conditions of each flight in order to compare the traditional Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach with the newly developed RNP-AR procedure.
The different flights showed savings of an average of 145kg of fuel linked to the optimized vertical descent profile, as well as 20kg of fuel through track-mile savings – resulting in a total of 518kg of CO2 reduction compared to an average conventional ILS approach. During the trials, the aircraft met the time requirement with an average accuracy of 8.6 seconds.
Wednesday’s flight was the first landing from the north, rather than the south, of the airport to use the RNP-AR procedure and, because of a track-mile reduction of around 17 nautical miles, the fuel savings and emissions reductions were more than doubled.
The MINT project is carried out in the context of the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE). AIRE, an agreement between the European Commission and the FAA, aims to reduce CO2 emissions and accelerate the pace of change by taking advantage of air traffic management best practices and mature technologies. It is expected to enable the implementation of environmental friendly procedures for all phases of flight and to validate the benefits of these improvements. The SESAR Joint Undertaking is responsible for the management of AIRE from a European perspective.
“With the full support of the industry, this, as well as follow-on projects in Sweden and other locations in Europe, will demonstrate that the ultimate goals of SESAR can be achieved,” said MINT Project Manager Christer Forsberg of AVTECH.
AVTECH is one of the founding members of the ICAO Global PBN Task Force that has as an objective to promote Performance-Based Navigation (PBN), which is widely recognized as one of the building blocks in the future air transport system – the operational concepts of both NextGen in the USA and SESAR JU in Europe are based on PBN, including time management. By using time navigation optimum operations and use of the most advanced PBN procedures, RNP is enabled at busy, capacity constrained airports.
One of the key performance targets of the SESAR programme is to reduce the environmental impact per flight in Europe by 10%.