Qatar mulls CDAs in Europe and the Middle East

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Qatar Airways would like to use continuous descent arrivals (CDA) at European airports by the end of the year as the fast-growing carrier seeks out efficiency gains that possibly limit the financial impact of the European Union's emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The Middle Eastern carrier will use the fuel-saving approach to reduce its carbon footprint wherever it can in Europe, Qatar senior manager fuel optimisation and environment Chris Schroeder tells ATI.

ETS will include emissions from flights within, to and from the EU from 2012. Aviation will receive 85% of carbon credits for free and 15% to be auctioned between 2013 and 2020.

But it remains unclear if CDAs will earn airlines carbon credits.

Europe is still in the research and development sphere in developing aviation's inclusion in ETS, European Commission policy and project officer for Single Sky and Modernization of air traffic control Doris Schrocker says.

Qatar will follow how ETS unfolds within the EU since it operates to London, Manchester, Madrid, Paris, Milan, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Vienna and Stockholm.

Currently Doha-based Qatar's initial environmental programmes are focused on efforts that do not require training or regulatory changes as CDAs do not involve much pilot training, Captain Schroeder says.

Qatar's flight management system is designed for the new arrival technique so the airline is able to switch from the traditional step-down method quickly.

The carrier is also interested in introducing CDAs at its homebase and elsewhere in the Middle East. However, the biggest stumbling block to CDA use is air traffic control (ATC), with a large amount of military airspace and a lot of commercial airspace fragmentation in the region, Schroeder explains.

Qatar is hopeful the Middle East will develop something similar to a Single European Sky modernisation of the European air traffic management system. While there is some movement toward that framework in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, the effort is still moving slowly, he says.