Single European Sky
There were 9.6 million flights to or from EU28+EFTA airports during 2017, and they are forecasted to increase by 42% between 2017 and 2040 under the base traffic forecast. The Single European Sky (SES) initiativehas introduced regulatory instruments at the EU level to help address the environmental challenges associated with this expected growth.
The SES ‘Performance Scheme’, defines key performance indicators and sets mandatory local and EU targets in the fields of environment, safety, efficiency and capacity, while taking into account their interdependencies. The scheme captures the relationship between flight routing and environmental impacts through two Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These involve measuring horizontal flight efficiency by comparing the great circle (shortest) distance against (1) the trajectory in the last filed flight plan (KEP) and (2) the actual trajectory flown (KEA). These KPIs are regarded as reasonable proxy measures of Air Navigation Service Provider efficiency.
Considering the complexity of the route structure, interface procedures and air traffic control operations, horizontal en route flight efficiency is not considered an appropriate performance indicator for the airport and terminal manoeuvring area. Instead, the additional taxi-out time and the additional transit time in the Arrival Sequencing and Metering Area (ASMA)11 is monitored against an unimpeded time based on periods of low traffic demand. Likewise, in order to measure the performance of aircraft ground operations at airports, the actual taxi-out time of a flight is compared to an unimpeded taxi-out time during periods of low traffic demand. At present, the performance scheme does not cover non-CO2 emissions, vertical flight efficiency, noise levels or air quality.
The European Commission is currently conducting a review of the Performance and Air Traffic Management (ATM) Charging Schemes which is due to be completed by the start of 2020. This will in particular respond to the findings of the recent European Court of Auditors report, and better capture the responsiveness of the ATM System to requests for preferred flight trajectories of airspace users.
The European Commission nominated EUROCONTROL as Network Manager in July 2011 until the end of 2019, . The SES Network Manager coordinates between operational stakeholders to effectively manage imbalances between capacity and demand, and thereby optimise the performance of the European aviation network. The aim is to prevent congestion in the air through the design, planning and management of the European ATM network and to limit unnecessary fuel burn and emissions through flow and capacity management.
Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR)
SESAR is the technological pillar of the Single European Skyfunded by the European Union, EUROCONTROL and industry partners, with a total budget of €2.1 billion for the original SESAR programme (2008-2016) and €1.6 billion for the SESAR 2020 programme (2014-2024). It aims to improve ATM performance by modernising and harmonising systems through the definition, development, validation and deployment of innovative technological and operational solutions. These solutions are defined in the European ATM Master Plan, along with required operational changes and a roadmap for their implementation. The solutions are developed and validated by the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU), and deployed through ‘Common Projects’ supported by dedicated SESAR deployment governance and incentive mechanisms. All of these processes actively involve the stakeholders and the Commission in different forms of partnerships.
The implementation of the deployment frameworkwill allow SESAR to fully deliver its environmental benefits from concept to implementation. The European Union has contributed €1.5 billion from the Connecting Europe Facility Programme to support operational stakeholders in this process.
Continuous Climb Operations / Continuous Descent Operations
In 2015, harmonised definitions, metrics and parameters to measure Continuous Climb Operations (CCO) and Continuous Descent Operations (CDO) in Europe were agreed by a Task Force of European ATM Stakeholders. These included the definition of a ‘noise CCO/CDO’ and of a ‘fuel CCO/CDO’. The fuel CCO/CDO measures the vertical flight efficiency, in terms of fuel and CO2, for the entire climb and descent profile respectively. The noise CCO/CDO measures the vertical flight profile efficiency to 10,500 ft for CCO and from 7,500 ft for CDO, which are the phases of flight where the primary impact is considered to be noise.
A European-wide studyof current CCO/CDO implementation, based upon the agreed definitions, was subsequently performed in 2017 where flights with level segments (a proxy for inefficiencies in the climb and descent phases of flight) were measured and their fuel burn, CO2 and financial impact estimated.
and use a sliding scale to indicate the average amount of time flown in level flight for both the noise and the fuel CCO/CDO at selected European airports in 2017. The scales for the noise and fuel CCO/CDOs are different, based on minimum, average and maximum values, illustrating the relative performance between the airports. Note that the average amount of level flight flown on departure (noise CCO) is relatively low at 5 seconds compared to 67 seconds for arrivals (CDO).
Within the scope of the fuel CCO and CDO definition, the average amount of level flight flown by all European flights is 44 seconds for departures (CCO) and 165 seconds for arrivals (CDO).shows that there is there is a relatively high amount of level flight within the European core area, indicating a link between CCO/CDO and airspace complexity.
The results indicate a greater potential to reduce noise and fuel use during descent (CDO) compared to climb-out (CCO), and overall the room for improvement is less in the noise CCO/CDO compared to the fuel CCO/CDO. The ability to perform CCO/CDO profiles also appears to be linked to airspace complexity rather than airport capacity. The results also indicate that a typical flight with level segments could benefit on average from CO2 savings of up to 48 kg for a CCO and 145 kg for a CDO, reflecting the higher CO2 penalties caused by inefficiencies in the descent phase. The potential CO2 benefits from optimising European wide CDOs were estimated to be ten times more than those of optimising CCOs. Furthermore, there is a much smaller potential to optimise the noise CCO/CDO compared to the fuel CCO/CDO. Acknowledging that the optimisation of environmental benefits depends upon local conditions, it was concluded that CCO/ CDO implementation should, where possible, focus on the optimisation of the flight profile from top of descent.
The total potential savings in Europe is up to 350,000 tonnes of fuel, which is equivalent to 1.1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. However, it should be noted that the ability to fly 100% CCO or CDO may not be possible for a number of reasons such as safety (i.e. time or distance separation), weather or capacity.
Implementation of Airport Collaborative Decision Making
Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) aims at improving the overall efficiency of airport operations, especially on aircraft turn-round and pre-departure sequencing processes.
Increased predictability can be of significant benefit for all major airport and network operations by improving flow management and sector planning. This is achieved by the Network Manager receiving more accurate target take-off times from the airport. On average, the implementation of A-CDM enables a reduced taxi time of 1 to 3 minutes per departure.
A further 16 airports () have implemented A-CDM since 2016, resulting in 40.9% of European departures operating from a A-CDM airport. The 2016 A-CDM impact assessment report identified savings generated from 13 of the 17 A-CDM airports that have demonstrated tangible taxi-time performance improvements of 108,072 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Additional operational initiatives
Further solutions which are expected to provide substantial environmental savings are highlighted in.
Air Navigation Service Providers
Austro Control has developed and implemented radio navigation procedures to reduce both noise and emissions at Salzburg airport. The airport is located on the northern edge of the Alps, and airlines generally prefer to approach from the south, stay high and descend to a reasonable approach altitude of around 5,000 ft after being clear of mountains. This was followed by an ILS approach from the north, as long as wind conditions allow. This flight extension of approximately 46 km results in additional fuel burn, gaseous emissions and noise over densely populated areas. In order to reduce these impacts, Austro Control has developed a direct approach procedure from the south that enables airlines to safely descend through the valley even in poor weather (IMC) conditions.
1. Lufthansa case study: Vortex Generators for Quieter Approaches
‘Vortex generators’ have been developed to reduce noise tones generated by two overpressure relief outlets located on the lower wing surface of A320 aircraft. These vortex generators are mounted in front of the cavities to prevent the generation of these tones, thus resulting in a four decibel noise reduction at distances between 17 and 10 kilometres from the runway. These are now fitted as standard on new A320 aircraft and can also be retrofitted to in-service aircraft. In addition to a noise reduction, the vortex generators help to reduce noise related airport charges.