Interdependency Modelling and Green Flight

The future environmental impact from aviation in Europe should reach a 50 % reduction in emissions until 2050. The Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) stated this in 2001. The main contributing factors to reach this goal are improvements in aerodynamic performance, better engine technology and more efficient operations.

Inefficiencies in the air traffic management (ATM) system and flight operations lead to a considerable amount of unnecessary fuel burn and emissions. Flight safety is as always important and no change to the operational cycle will be implemented in real life operations if it is not proven to have at least maintained (or higher) flight safety. The ability to model the impact of suggested changes to the operational cycle of aviation is crucial. There has to be a sound understanding of the problems both from theoretical and practical viewpoints.

Environmental changes to the operational cycle spans over a lot of issues.  Key factor is to optimise the flight route in all dimensions. This involves shortening the flight distance “en-route” as well as new procedures and techniques for departing and approaching an airport. Important is to consider both the planning processes where allowing for a short flight route allows for less fuel onboard and thus a reduced take-off weight as well as the “ad-hoc” short-cuts the pilot is allowed to perform during the flight. A clever use of weather such as considerations of flight level due to head and/or tailwind together with contrail avoidance procedures should be considered. How the pilots operate the engines during flight also has a direct impact on the environment.

There are trade-off considerations to deal with when introducing more environmental friendly operations. Capacity in the airspace and on the ground: on runways, taxiways and at the gates of the airports, noise abatement and the impact from weather are all factors which have to be considered. To assess these impacts, realistic scenarios and databases are needed. ECATS has the knowledge to deal with all those questions and the ability to model the systems with a high degree of accuracy. Green Flight & Interdependency Modelling is a main Focus Area of ECATS. A virtual centre for aviation databases and scenarios has been established. A number of operational and ATM possibilities for reducing emissions are studied and intelligent flight routing for avoiding sensitive regions in the atmosphere have been developed.

As an important part of the scientific community, ECATS will be able to provide stakeholders with tailor-made advice on the best way forward.

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