Europe plans ATC route saving of 240,000t of CO2

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Eurocontrol is promising airlines that flying distances will be reduced by approximately 22 million km within three years, saving them €60 million ($75 million), reducing fuel use by 72,000t, and decreasing CO2 emissions by 240,000t.

The agency explains it has just finalised a three-year plan to organise Europe's air route network (ARN) and airspace to save fuel and reduce emissions. The plan, dubbed ARN Version 6, will be rolled out between 2008 and 2010. It contains more than 400 airspace improvement packages, says Eurocontrol, covering approximately 1600 route changes and more than 60 airspace resectorisation projects when the plan has been fully implemented. Nearly a third of the measures in the plan are already in place and the rest are scheduled to be implemented over the next two years.

Head of ARN Joe Sultana says: "The improvements in the ARN Version 6 are an effective means for us of delivering on the actions contained in the flight-efficiency plan we signed with CANSO [the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation] and International Air Transport Association in September. They represent pan-European agreed solutions demonstrating the commitment of the aviation industry to work together to address significant economic and environmental challenges."

The improvements will reduce Europe's ARN distance by 0.3% overall, and it will then be only 3.35% longer than if the most direct routes were used, says Eurocontrol. They were agreed by a group comprising 43 states and their air navigation service providers, eight international organisations - including airspace users, and Eurocontrol, which explains: "The group meets regularly to discuss and improve the European ATS route network, the supporting airspace sectorisation and to optimise the use of the airspace."

•A strategy designed to achieve environmentally optimal flight routings during the night when contrails are thought to have the worst global warming effect - is being investigated by the German climate protection programme. The plan will develop a routeing system where aircraft may avoid supersaturated air without overloading air traffic controllers and with minimal fuel consumption penalties. This follows a 2006 study which suggested most of the radiative forcing from contrails can be attributed to night-time flights.