Flight trials to reduce environmental impact must quickly transform to everyday operations, says SESAR chief
Patrick Ky, SESAR Executive Director
Mon 15 Mar 2010 – Change through technology will be gradual but for the benefit of the environment and the aviation industry, there was a need for “quick wins”, says Patrick Ky, Executive Director of SESAR, Europe’s air traffic modernization programme. Speaking at the ATC Global conference held in Amsterdam last week, he said the target to reduce the environmental impact per flight by 10 percent was ambitious but attainable, and a 2 percent reduction could be reached without any major technological investment. Ky was speaking during a presentation of the achievements of over 1,000 commercial flight trials carried out in Europe in 2009 under the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) European/US FAA partnership.
He said the 300 projects within the Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) work programme would contribute to the remaining 8 percent reduction and would enable fewer or no delays, more direct flight paths and smooth descent and climbing. Nine months since programme started, 1,400 engineers at the SESAR member organizations have already initiated 75% of the projects, valued at €1.9 billion ($2.6bn), making it one of the most ambitious research and development projects ever launched by the European Union.
“When the AIRE programme was launched in 2007, few would have expected that this partnership between the SESAR JU and the FAA would deliver results so quickly,” commented Ky. “But here we are with what I think are very promising results, which are not simulations or projections but observed, real-life data.
“But let me stress that for the results achieved, we didn’t have to develop new technology. AIRE is purely about making best use of available technology and improving procedures by working together. Environmental procedures and economic benefits are no contradictions. But it is now essential that we transform them from ‘flight trials’ to ‘day-to-day operations’.”
During 2009, a total of 1,152 demonstration flight trials took place in five locations involving 18 airline, airport, ANSP and industry partners, and included surface as well as terminal and oceanic green procedures. Results from the trials indicate savings in CO2 emissions ranging from 90 to 1,250 kg per flight, with accumulated savings of around 400 tonnes. SESAR’s Chief of Economics and Environment, Alain Siebert, said most of the solutions are already now in operation or will be introduced shortly.
Thien Ngo, AIRE Programme Manager, FAA, said the agency had analyzed 52 westbound Oceanic flights by Lufthansa and Air Europa. Lateral optimization procedures had demonstrated reductions of around 24,000kg of fuel, or over 460kg per flight, equivalent to total savings of 71 tonnes of CO2, or 1.4 tonnes per flight.
Tailored arrivals trialled at Miami International Airport as part of AIRE had demonstrated savings of between 1.0 and 1.2 tonnes of CO2 per flight, said Ngo.
Work under AIRE will continue in 2010, said Patrick Ky, and further contracts are expected to be signed by May. The programme is expected to be expanded to cover en-route operations, with incentives for projects that take a ‘gate-to-gate’ perspective, and activities may be extended to include the whole ICAO North Atlantic region and with more opportunities to link with other US initiatives.
Concluded Ky: “The main challenge is now to ensure that fit-for-purpose solutions are delivered which can be easily implemented. For this reason, the SESAR JU is working on ‘early benefits’ which can be delivered in 2010-2011 and to start to prepare for the change which will take place in European Air Traffic Management.”
Summary of environmental benefits per flight (depending on aircraft type and baseline):
Santa Maria, Portugal
Locations of European AIRE projects directly co-financed by the SJU in 2009: