NATS is the first Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) to develop a strategy to achieve an average air traffic related CO2 reduction of 10% per flight by 2020, a challenging CO2 reduction target.
To achieve this, a new monitoring tool, the Flight Profile Monitor (FPM), has been developed to help operational and environmental managers better understand flight profiles around airports.
How the Flight Profile Monitor (FPM) works
The FPM uses accurate radar data to build a real-time database of flight activity. It works to any altitude and provides a detailed analysis of all climb, descent and level flight activity from ground to cruise levels.
The data recorded includes rate of climb and descent, airspeed and heading. It can be presented graphically by individual aircraft, aircraft type and airline company or statistically in the form of compliance with user-set criteria.
An obvious application for this data is in Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) and Continuous Climb Departure (CCD) compliance, but any vertical profile can be analysed. Top of descent to holding stack entry level, for example, may also yield useful analysis.
Whilst relatively simple in function, the FPM tool provides a powerful analytical capability that identifies inefficiencies in flight profiles. More importantly, it shows areas where improvements can be made to flight operation procedures as well as airspace and ATC interfaces.
A video playback function highlights aircraft that did and did not achieve any preset flight profiles such as CDA. This allows identification of any regularly recurring periods of level flight or flight deviation from the ideal, and therefore look to change procedures to start eliminating such inefficiencies.
The FPM can be linked to NATS CO2 measuring capability to allow accurate data to be collated on individual and overall CO2 emissions during key flight phases as well.
Reducing environmental impact
The FPM tool is now being used to provide vital new information and analysis on how the complex climb and descent phases within UK airspace are flown.
Internal trials are showing ways operational and environmental ATM planning can benefit. FPM is just the start. And it is a promising start: a trial at Edinburgh Airport with ten airlines observed 20% improvement in CDA achievement at Edinburgh. That trial alone estimated a saving at least 510T CO2, and 160T fuel worth £104,000 per year as well as reducing community exposure to noise.
New and innovative tools and techniques continue to be developed so that the environmental impact of aircraft operations within UK airspace can continue to be reduced.
As a postscript to the above, the FPM recently won an award in the ‘Best Environmental Initiative’ category, details of which can be found at:
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