Improvements in global air traffic efficiency must be speeded up if industry emission goals are to be reached, says CANSO/Boeing report

Improvements in global air traffic efficiency must be speeded up if industry emission goals are to be reached, says CANSO/Boeing report | CANSO

(photo: LVNL)

Wed 28 March 2012 – Air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and the international aviation industry must increase collaboration if real air traffic management (ATM) fuel efficiencies are to be realised in the face of growing global air traffic. That’s the central message of a ‘white paper’ published by Boeing and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), which represents ANSPs responsible for supporting over 85 per cent of world air traffic. CANSO is concerned that unless work on improving operational efficiency in the global ATM system is accelerated, there is a danger the sector will fail to contribute to the aviation industry’s 2020 and 2050 carbon emissions reduction goals. The paper challenges all industry stakeholders to collaborate on a set of steps to reach 94-95 per cent operational efficiency by 2025 and 95-98 per cent by 2050.


Efficiency can be defined and theoretically calculated as the difference between the actual trajectory and an optimal trajectory, where each flight is assumed to be the only flight in the system. Inefficiencies are caused by interdependencies in the ATM system, which include safety, weather, capacity, noise, airline and airport practices, military, institutional and aircraft mixed fleet equipment capability.


Examples include noise abatement procedures around the airfield requiring an aircraft to fly a less efficient route, civil aircraft having to route around military airspace, fragmented airspace caused by different regions and countries with different operating and charging practices, and older aircraft not being equipped with the same technology as the most recent models.


The paper acknowledges that the adoption of modern technology could improve one interdependency while adversely affecting another. A case in point is the introduction of new arrival procedures using Performance Based Navigation where experience has shown that reducing overall noise around airports creates areas of ‘new noise’. These issues cannot be addressed solely by the ANSP, airport operator and airlines without community engagement, says the paper.


Efficiency gains, it reports, can be achieved by reducing the effect of the interdependencies, but while ANSPs can directly address some of these, the largest gains will come from ANSPs working closely with other stakeholders such as regulators, airlines, airports, airplane manufacturers, ground handlers, avionics and ground system suppliers, and local communities.


The paper looks at opportunities to reduce the inefficiencies in each phase of a flight and provides a sample of collaborative projects taking place worldwide to increase ATM efficiency and in so doing, reduce costs, fuel burn and CO2 emissions.


“There are an enormous number of initiatives taking place globally in our industry and we are using them to show how we can collaborate and show through eight central messages in the paper how we can speed up the process and treat it as a global initiative,” Paul Riemens, Chairman of CANSO, told GreenAir. “We can run faster.”


In order to speed up the changes required, CANSO and Boeing call on the industry to quickly implement seven steps:

  • Improve the collective understanding of the operational benefits of more efficient ATM operations;
  • Increase stakeholder collaboration;
  • Accelerate operational trials and procedures that take advantage of existing aircraft capabilities;
  • Accelerate ‘real time’ collaborative decision-making through enhanced information sharing;
  • Reduce airspace restrictions that lead to inefficient operations;
  • Accelerate the approval process for procedures and operations; and
  • Promote common best practices in ATM to ensure international harmonisation.


The origins of the paper, ‘Accelerating Air Traffic Management Efficiency: A Call to Industry’, can be traced back a few years when ANSPs came together and recognised that changes were needed to accelerate efficiency in the sector with a common approach rather than as 65 individual states, explains Neil Planzer, Vice President ATM of Boeing Flight Services. Impressed with this new level of ambition, Boeing contributed a number of engineers to a group set up by CANSO to work on the initiative.


“The community that owns the outcomes is saying it wants to move faster and more efficiently. It is in the interest of the industry that we increase the pace. I don’t ever remember an ANSP organisation coming like this together before to do this,” said Planzer.


“Boeing’s input is to look at what our aircraft can do today, what they can do tomorrow and how we will connect aircraft in an effective way to the short term outcomes we are looking for as well as the mid- and long-term outcomes. CANSO’s role as we see it is to lead all the ANSPs to an understanding that an integrated, interoperable approach beyond geographic boundaries is in everybody’s best interest.


“This is a leadership effort that had been absent historically,” he said, explaining that CANSO had now matured into an organisation capable of cajoling and bringing ANSPs together for reasons other than for self-interest.


“We at Boeing see this as a unique opportunity,” added Planzer. “The more successful CANSO is in getting everyone to play together – airlines, airports, regulators, airframe and avionics manufacturers, along with the ANSPs – the more likely it will create an environment where you can pick up the pace of efficiency.”


He said the capability of today’s high-technology airplanes were underutilised in a constrained and outdated ATM system, and undermined the profitability of the aviation industry.


Riemens, who is also the CEO of Dutch ANSP LVNL and is holding the reins at CANSO until a new replacement is found for the recently departed former Director General Graham Lake, said that after 15 years, CANSO had truly become the global voice of ANSPs. “However, we have now reached a point where people ask you to be part of the solution and to show leadership and take on initiatives such as this.”




CANSO (download paper)

Boeing Air Traffic Management



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