NATS and Bristol Airport have been monitoring Continuous Descent Operations (CDO) and sharing monthly performance reports with us at easyJet, as well as other airlines on a monthly basis since 2011.
In 2013, we were keen to work with NATS to see if we could improve our performance. While our CDO achievement was already just above average for the airport at around 72%, I was keen to push us to become ‘best in class’, aspiring to over 90%.
A bit of healthy competition was key and through close collaboration and daily monitoring and dialogue with flight crews and ATC, we launched a trial called ‘Continuous Descent September’ in 2013. The results were really positive, with an average of 82% CDO for that month. We had successfully demonstrated that an improvement of 10% in CDO was attainable through increased training and awareness and more operational focus on achieving CDOs.
This year, NATS led Sustainable Aviation (SA) in the launch of the UK-wide CDO campaign. easyJet is an active partner in SA, which is a voluntary coalition of industry partners, and we were keen (as we always are) to demonstrate our commitment to fuel efficient and noise mitigating operations by supporting the campaign across all of our UK operations.
Therefore, in order to play our part, we sent out communications on the campaign to all UK based flight crews in order to engage them in the process and base management have been in contact with local ATC units to coordinate the approach. Working collaboratively is the only way to ensure the best results.
At Bristol, we’ve maintained a steady improvement in our CDO performance and are delighted that we are now averaging around 85% – an improvement of 13% in just over a year.
We’re saving tens of thousands of pounds in fuel as well as reducing emissions and noise for communities around the airport. It’s not often you get a win-win-win like this so it’s great we’ve been able to see these results at Bristol. We’ll keep pushing though; I’m determined to get us to that 90% target!
My hope now is that the focus on CDOs continues, with the teamwork between the Tower, the Airport and easyJet at Bristol being an inspiring example of what can be achieved when combined effort is applied. It would be great to now see this success replicated at other airports and with other airlines across the UK.
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