“Green” aviation in the Nordics

Civil aviation is being proactive in its efforts to diminish its negative impact on the environment, primarily through research and development into more fuel efficient engines and airframes as well as efforts now looking into alternative forms of jet fuel. However it is also possible to further decrease fuel consumption by leveraging existing air transport instruments.

One of the key existing approaches available to save on fuel and other costs while minimizing negative impacts on the environment, is to implement a new set of behavioral patterns through training. One contemporary example is Eco Pilot Training which is currently offered by the Oxford Aviation Academy (OAA). This programme, which is also available both for new and existing pilots, has been developed not only to train or update pilots as per standard methodologies, but to teach them to be more effective ‘fuel managers’ as well.

  Training pilots to become proactive fuel managers will benefit the environment and can save airlines as much as 4 to 6 percent in fuel costs. The OAA has reviewed extensive simulations and real airline test cases to prove that the concept delivers. A detailed consultation with a client airline is made before the start of the program to determine the best course of action and the appropriate training syllabus. One big challenge is changing entrenched behaviors and mind-sets, but through simulator training pilots are able to evaluate and experience the new efficiency benefits first-hand.

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Another example of an existing tool that can be employed to improve efficiency is ‘green’ approaches, which have been tested for a number of years at the three biggest airports in Scandinavia: Stockholm Arlanda, Copenhagen and Oslo Airports. A ‘green’ approach is basically synonymous with a Continuous Descent Approach (CDA). Since the early tests completed in this regard, tens of thousands CDAs have been performed at these airports with thousands of tons of fuel savings as one result and large cuts in emissions as another.

  Another “green way” of doing things, is Continuous Climb Departures (CCD) which are now also used for the vast majority of take-offs, for example at Copenhagen Airport. A CCD procedure allows aircraft to climb directly to a designated flight level without going through a leveling-off stage. In more than 90 percent of the take-offs it oversees, Naviair, the Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) at Copenhagen Airport, allows for this deviation from Standard Instrument Departures (SID) to allow departing aircraft to climb directly to their cruising level.

  SID procedures normally require aircraft to level-off at 6,000 feet before climbing further, requiring extra fuel as a consequence. At Copenhagen the SID Procedures are only mandatory during peak traffic hours, thus enabling Air Traffic Controllers to deviate from the conventional procedures for all non-peak takeoffs. Because it is surrounded by water on three sides, Copenhagen is more able to fully employ this environmentally-friendly concept with suitably-equipped aircraft.

  These ‘green’ concepts were first introduced in 1996, but the advantages have only now been proven based on an analysis made by EUROCONTROL’s System for Traffic Assignment & Analysis at the Macroscopic Level (SAAM) – a European Airspace Design Evaluation tool used to model, analyze and visualize Route Network and Airspace developments with current or future traffic data at local, regional and European-wide levels.

  Typically, SAAM is used by airspace planners to improve TMA and/or en-route airspace system safety and capacity and to perform strategic traffic flow organization. “We find the development of this unique concept for take-offs at Copenhagen Airport extremely positive,” commented Andrew Watt of EUROCONTROL. “Our simulations substantiate significant fuel savings with reduced effect on the climate and we fully support the ANS providers’ individual development of the best and most efficient solutions within their specific area.”

  EUROCONTROL’s computer simulations show that the concept of continuous climb during take-off, on average, saves 200 kg of fuel per take-off – equivalent to a reduction of approximately 620 kg of CO2. Another benefit is the reduced emissions of a range of other environmentally damaging substances.

  Air Navigation Services at Copenhagen Airport alone therefore saves its airline customers approximately 10,000 tons of fuel annually, while remaining cost efficient. On an annual basis it reduces CO2 emissions by more than 30,000 tons.

During the last years great efforts have been made by the Norwegian ANSP Avinor, the airlines Scandinavian and Norwegian and other stakeholders in developing biofuels. And on November 17 (external link) the first regular passenger flights with JETA1 containing 85% biofuel took place in Norway.

Pictures: Colourbox.com