By Aimée Turner in Geneva

Pan-European air navigation organisation Eurocontrol is to focus on advanced continuous descent approach (CDA) techniques to be used in the busiest airport periods following promising early results following trials at three airports.

Speaking at the Aviation and Environment Summit taking place in Geneva this week, Victor Aguado, director general of Eurocontrol, said that CDA was one of air traffic management’s (ATM) principle contribution to the sustainable development of aviation. 

Eurocontrol was tasked last year to harmonise noise abatement operational procedures across Europe by the heads of civil aviation meeting at the European Civil Aviation Conference. 

Aguado told delegates that flight trials at Bucharest, Manchester and Stockholm airports have now been mainly completed. “What do we see? Fuel savings of up to 200kg [440lb] per approach which makes for over a tonne less of CO2 [carbon dioxide] and as much as a 30% reduction in noise contours 10-25nm [18-46km] from the airport,” he said.

He explained that this work was partly based on the experience with a basic form of CDA already used at London airports and will in future take account of ongoing US Federal Aviation Administration’s experience with its own flight trials.

Aguado said Eurocontrol guidance material for the harmonised application of CDA in Europe will be prepared by next year at which stage Eurocontrol will submit it to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for consideration by its global partner organizations.

“But we are not stopping there. We are already working on advanced CDA, coupling arrival manager tools with CDA to allow this key technique to be used in even the busiest periods,” said Aguado.

He reported that another project which Eurocontrol is working on is flow management. “Flow management can do a great deal to minimise unnecessary fuel burn and emissions by retaining the aircraft on the ground when restrictions exist.”

“In 2005, with over 9.2 million flights, around 8.9 million minutes of flow management delays were imposed. Just as an aside, in 2004, there were well over 14 million minutes of delay – five million more.” “We estimate that this probably avoided the unnecessary consumption of roughly 350,000t of fuel or almost 1.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide,” said Aguado.

He added that Eurocontrol’s environmental unit will launch a study later this year into the environmental impact of different flow management strategies focusing on fuel burn and emissions. “This cross-agency will enable us to determine the best flow management strategy to adopt from this environmental strategy,” says Aguado.

He reported that Eurocontrol proposed that ICAO should undertake a study into the environmental benefits derived from the global implementation of reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM) - an ICAO concept - at the fifth meeting of ICAO’s regional planning and implementation groups.   

“Almost all ICAO regions have now implemented it. RVSM delivers safety, efficiency and environmental benefits. It is a voluntary measure taken by our industry and it has delivered fuel and emissions reductions of up to 5% per flight in European RVSM airspace alone.”

Aguado also announced that Eurocontrol has now launched an environmental awareness package for air traffic management personnel on its website. “This e-Learning package will provide ATM and other aviation staff with a sound basic knowledge on the issues that confront our industry,” he said.

External link:
Download Eurocontrol's environment awareness web-based training package for the general public in Adobe Acrobat file
or Download Eurocontrol's environment awareness web-based training package for the ait traffic manegement personnel in Adobe Acrobat file

Source: Flight International