in Aerospace

NATS sees decreasing aircraft CO2 emissions in 2016

Posted 5 June 2017 · Add Comment

Improvements to the design of UK airspace helped save 55,900 tonnes of CO2 aircraft greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, according to a report by air traffic services provider, NATS.

The findings form part of NATS’ annual Responsible Business Report and have been published to coincide with World Environment Day.

As well as the decrease in air traffic management related CO2, highlights of the report include certification for environment management against the international standard ISO14001 for two UK airport towers and another increase in the number of quieter flight descents into UK airports.

Over the past year, a number of airspace improvements have been implemented at higher levels, making routes more direct and vertically efficient; and speed control measures have been introduced to slow aircraft down en-route to avoid holding in congested areas close to airports. These savings equate to the reduction of 55,900 tonnes CO2 emissions, worth c£6.2m to airlines in terms of fuel savings.

Above: An inflatable 10 metre red balloon in the courtyard of NATS' head office at Whiteley provides a vivid demonstration of what a tonne of CO2 looks like.

The initiatives that matured in 2016 - such as continuous descent approaches, cross-border arrival management, time-based separation and flexible use of airspace - contribute towards NATS’ voluntary target to achieve a 10% reduction in ATM-emissions by 2020.

NATS has continued to lead a campaign, as part of the Sustainable Aviation coalition, to increase the use of continuous descents, to reduce noise and CO2 emissions. NATS achieved an additional 32,070 quieter arrivals in 2016 over 2015 and has delivered over 810,000 individual quieter arriving flights since it was introduced. This enhanced performance along with increased airport and airline engagement to deliver these improvements, earned NATS re-accreditation to the Prince’s Trust Business in the Community ‘Big Tick’ awards for the second year running. NATS also continues to focus on enabling continuous climbs for aircraft on departure, which minimises fuel burn and noise and making all aspects of flight as efficient as possible.

The Responsible Business Report acknowledges the impact of aircraft noise on people who live under flight paths and NATS’ development of  a new responsible business policy to understand how best to manage this issue.

NATS has been invited by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to lead a task force developing best practice on how to engage communities on the introduction of performance based navigation, new technology which can help mitigate noise impact on individual communities. NATS is committed to working with local communities to find ways of reducing noise for them.

The Responsible Business Report also highlights the work achieved by NATS staff in improving the lives of people in communities of which NATS is a part. The NATS Footprint Fund, for example, awarded 57 grants worth over £24,000 to community improvement schemes in 2016, supported a wide range of local charities and matched funding for numerous volunteer sponsored events for national charities.  NATS staff raised £151,000 from payroll charitable giving with more and more employees giving via this method.

Ian Jopson, NATS Head of Environmental & Community Affairs, said: “Our enduring goal is to deliver a safe and efficient air traffic system that provides real value to its users and, above all, a system that operates effectively while limiting and where possible reducing its environmental impact. We’re proud of how far NATS has come; driving social and environmental responsibility through all aspects of our business.”

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