Transatlantic trial to explore 'green' gate-to-gate procedures

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Europe has declared plans to conduct more than 100 transatlantic flight trials next year as part of an effort to perfect environmentally-friendly flight procedures under real conditions.

The trials form part of the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) agreement struck last year between Europe and the USA, which aims to improve energy efficiency and lower engine noise through better air traffic management techniques.

The newly-created SESAR Joint Undertaking, which is heading the 'Single European Sky' modernisation of the European air traffic management system, will be responsible for managing AIRE from a European perspective. The FAA heads the initiative in the USA.

Seventeen industry partners are committing to test fuel-optimised gate-to-gate procedures through a programme of more than 100 trials to be performed in 2009, to develop and validate environmentally-friendly procedures for all phases of flight.

These partners comprise Airbus, Air France, French air navigation service DSNA, Aeroports de Paris, Thales, Adacel, Avtech, Egis Avia, Nav Portugal, TAP Portugal, Isavia, Icelandair, AENA, INECO, Iberia, Swedish air traffic authority LFV, and Novair.

SESAR JU executive director Patrick Ky believes 'greener' flight procedures could reduce environmental impact per flight by 10% - a saving of 4.6t in fuel and 14.4t of carbon dioxide emissions for a typical Stockholm-New York flight operated by an Airbus A330.

"To make this happen, we need to validate these new procedures under real operating conditions," he says. "Each flight demonstration and trial project will aim to demonstrate the environmental, operational and economical benefits which modern, environmentally-friendly solutions will bring to air traffic management."

Trials will be conducted for ground movements and terminal and oceanic procedures. In certain cases, the results of some trials will be coupled in order to have a "gate-to-gate" view of the flights.

'Green ground movement' trials will be conducted by Air France at Paris Charles de Gaulle, in co-operation with the DSNA and Aeroports de Paris. They will seek to demonstrate the effectiveness of a new collaborative decision-support system which will minimise taxi time and allow for single-engine taxi operations, thanks to enhanced time predictability.

Within terminal airspace, continuous-descent approaches and 'green climb' trials will be carried out at Madrid, Paris and Stockholm with the participation of Iberia and Air France. The first required navigation performance (RNP) continuous-descent approach to be performed in Europe is planned for Stockholm Arlanda Airport in partnership with Airbus.

Oceanic procedures will be developed with Nav Portugal and Iceland's Isavia and include carriers Icelandair, TAP Portugal and Air France. These procedures and techniques will include speed and flight-profile optimisation on selected European-North American and European-Latin American routes next year.