Concept and Methodology

Air Traffic Management can contribute to the reduction of aviation’s environmental impact in several ways. The ATM system constitutes the framework in which aircraft operators run their fleet and facilitates that airlines can plan and execute their flights as safe, efficient and cost-effective as possible. However, today’s flight planning is still limited by certain ATM constraints like e.g. the Air Traffic Services (ATS) route network and its availability, pre-defined departure and arrival procedures containing both vertical altitude and speed constraints and a horizontal routing defined by a sequence of waypoints as well as airspace capacity issues. Driven by SESAR and SESAR2020, there is already an increasing number of so-called Free-Route Airspaces (FRA) implemented in Europe, which increase the flexibility for operators to plan and fly user-preferred routes and hence allow for the optimisation of flights. For operators so far, the Direct Operating Costs (DOC) which are essentially driven by flight time, fuel consumption and navigational charges, are the main criterion for such an optimisation. A reduction of the fuel consumption will consequently also lead to a reduction of CO2 emissions, which has a positive climate impact. However, atmospheric science has shown over the last years that beside
CO2 also non-CO2 effects are very important for aviation’s climate impact due to the emission of NOx and water vapour at high cruising altitudes as well as the formation of contrails.

It is therefore of high importance to reduce climate impact as much as possible and at the same time consider airlines’ monetary interest by identifying eco-efficient trajectories which significantly reduce climate impact at no (“win-win”) or low (“cherry-picking”) cost penalties. Since both, the meteorological forecast and the climate impact estimates are subject to uncertainties, the identification of robust solutions is required e.g. by considering Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) weather forecasts. Building on latest knowledge of the former SESAR2020 Exploratory Research projects ATM4E and TBO-Met available within the consortium (Table 1.4), the project FlyATM4E addresses this challenge, aiming to identify robust trajectories which reduce climate impact.

Schematic Illustration of FlyATM4E concept