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16 April 2008
16. April 2008 Commercial Aircraft

World's first trial of a new flight procedure that reduces fuel burn and emissions during cruise

The partners of an Airbus-led project called CRISTAL ITP (In-trail Procedure) successfully carried out the world's first in-flight demonstration of a flexible new procedure for oceanic airspace that saves fuel and reduces emissions during

The new in-trail procedure will enable aircraft to more easily perform altitude changes during cruise which can significantly improve flight efficiency, reducing fuel burn and emissions. When an aircraft is not at its optimal altitude, aircraft fuel consumption and emissions are increased. As fuel is burned, the aircraft weight is reduced, and the aircraft then needs to climb to maintain its optimum cruise efficiency. Additionally, favourable winds can be found at higher or lower altitudes.

The demonstration flight took place in late March using Airbus' own A340 test aircraft and an SAS A330, performing the trial in Icelandic airspace. Iceland is a unique location where oceanic operations are carried out within radar coverage thus ensuring the complete safety of the trial.

During the test, the A340 performed several altitude changes relative to the SAS A330 using a new aircraft system fitted on the A340 and including an Aviation Communication & Surveillance Systems (ACSS) Traffic Computer. Using this system the pilot was able to receive on his navigation display all the flight identification and positioning information regarding the surrounding aircraft. This new system, based on ADS-B (Automatic Dependant Surveillance - Broadcast), a new air-to-ground and air-to-air surveillance technology used to transmit aircraft information, is currently being certified by Airbus.

This new demonstration is a significant step towards more flexible operations in an oceanic environment, enabled by new aircraft technologies and more efficient pilot-controller collaboration. Currently these kinds of maneuvers are rarely possible in oceanic airspace due to the lack of radar systems. With the new technology, the flight crew can provide the controller with accurate information about their position relative to other aircraft. With the In Trail Procedure, the controller will use this information to allow altitude changes with reduced separations, providing more climbing opportunities.

The partners involved in the CRISTAL ITP trial are ISAVIA (the air traffic control provider in Iceland), NATS (the air traffic control provider in the UK), EUROCONTROL CASCADE programme, Airbus and SAS.

The results of these trials will further strengthen Airbus' experience in this field as well as benefit other European projects Airbus is supporting that aim to reduce fuel burn and emissions such as the Atlantic Interoperability initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE), a joint initiative between the European Commission and the US Federal Aviation Administration.

Sensitive to its position as an industry leader, Airbus strives to be a truly eco-efficient enterprise. To that end Airbus is the first aeronautics company in the world to have earned the ISO 14001 environmental certification for all production sites and products for the entire life cycle. Airbus seeks to ensure that air transport continues to be an eco-efficient means of transport, delivering value while minimizing its environmental impact.

Airbus is an EADS company.

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