As part of its commitment to environmental performance, Airbus is a key contributor to the Atlantic Interoperability initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) programme – which is spearheading energy-efficient air traffic management (ATM) operations for lower engine emissions and aircraft noise.
Jointly managed by the European Union and the United States, AIRE aims to demonstrate future reductions in CO2 emissions from the SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) programme and its U.S.-based sister initiative using current technology.
To date, over 1,000 AIRE flights have been performed in Europe alone as part of a comprehensive revenue flight trial programme. Airbus is contributing to the initiative, and already has participated in the AIRE Minimum CO2 in Terminal Manoeuvring Area project.
A number of further proposals are in preparation with Airbus as a partner, including transatlantic A380 “Green Flights” – a proposed series of trials this autumn, concentrating on regular Air France flights from New York to Paris.
Should they move forward, these trials will have a dual focus, according to Markus Durstewitz of the SESAR programme. “First, more accurate take-off time estimates would enable the aircraft to taxi for as long as possible using only two of four engines – saving an estimated 500 kg. of fuel and reducing CO2 emissions by approximately 1,500 kg. per flight,” said Durstewitz.
The second focus will be optimised routing, Durstewitz added. The “Green Flights” will be provided with “more vertical, lateral and longitudinal flexibility” to reach an optimal combination of level, speed and track as the aircraft cross the Atlantic.
“The A380 is able to attain an optimal cruise level at higher altitudes than standard commercial flights,” Durstewitz said. “As a result, the aircraft avoids most air traffic and has more freedom to make good use of preferable wind profiles.”
This has the potential of reducing fuel burned by more than half a tonne per Atlantic crossing on average – equivalent to the reduction of over 1.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
“Reflecting Airbus' commitment to eco-efficient aviation, the A380 ‘Green Flights’ proposal is poised to demonstrate the benefits of next generation ATM operations with today's technology,” added Tom Maier, an AIRE programme manager. “This and other AIRE trials are excellent opportunities to ensure a smooth transition to large-scale improvements which will result from SESAR and NextGen development work.”
For additional information on SESAR, see the previous Eco-news story