The transatlantic love-in between the US Federal Aviation Administration and European Commission over future collaboration on air traffic research failed to produce any rapprochement over the vexed issue of Europe's move to include foreign airlines in its emissions trading scheme.

Unveiling the initiative at the Paris air show, FAA administrator Marion Blakey said the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) would be aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions on transatlantic flights.

The gate to gate research initiative would focus on interaction between the USA's Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) and the EU's Single European Sky (SESAR) initiative.

Despite the co-operation, however, the two sides remain divided over what the USA regards as Europe's unilateral move before aviation rulemaking body the International Civil Aviation Organisation rules on how emissions trading schemes should be implemented at its general assembly in September.

"Emissions trading was actually invented in the USA," said Blakey, who added that it was not just the USA objecting to it but 28 other ICAO nations too. "That said, we have very strong feelings that we have to work on a voluntary basis through ICAO. We cannot predict whether a more voluntary approach is possible, but we would certainly welcome it in this area."

Explaining AIRE, Blakey said: "First and foremost, we'll use trajectory-based operations on the ground to minimise aircraft run time. That means the jets will get from the gate to the runway as quickly and smoothly as possible. After take-off comes collaborative oceanic trajectory optimisation, which promises major fuel reduction at cruise. Heading into the destination, we'll be using oceanic tailored arrivals, a low power, continuous descent approach that has planes gliding smoothly in to the runway with minimal power."

She said AIRE will begin field trials on new routes between the USA and Europe later this year and could be operational within four years. "On the US side, we'll include projects like continuous descent approach at Atlanta with multiple airlines. We also will develop a coastal tailored arrivals programme for flights into Miami."

Launch partners include the civil aviation authorities of Ireland, Sweden and Portugal, as well as Airbus and Boeing, and Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, SAS Group, UPS and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Scott Carson called AIRE "an important first step", adding: "Air traffic management improvements represent the quickest and greatest short-term gains in reducing emissions and we need to start implementing them now. It is critical that [ATM] systems around the world are interoperablewe need to move quickly to put this in place."

Source: Flight International