Addressing the challenge of the environment

Robin Deransy & Peter Hullah

Robin Deransy & Peter Hullah

Experts in the Environmental Studies Unit at the EEC

In order to address the challenge of the environmental performance objectives set by Europe, EUROCONTROL is placing all of its expertise at the service of its Member States and the aviation industry. Here is what Robin Deransy and Peter Hullah, from the Environmental Studies Unit at the EEC, have to say on the matter.

Why is EUROCONTROL interested in the environmental impact of aviation?

Robin Deransy explains: “In response to a suggestion by Sweden, EUROCONTROL decided to add another string to its bow in 1997 when it began to study the impact of aviation on the environment. That same year, with the support of the Director of the EUROCONTROL Experimental Centre (EEC), the Environment Research Group was created. Its mission was to focus on the noise, emissions and climate impact of civil aviation.”

What innovations have the experts in this group contributed?

“In the framework of the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) of ICAO*, they have contributed to the development of important international databases and guidelines for environmental impact studies and modelling. These are necessary for analysing future trends and options for limiting or reducing the impact of civil aviation in terms of noise and emissions. Moreover, since 2000, the group has been developing a series of models for assessing the aviation’s environmental impact. These models enable the evaluation of concentrations of gaseous emissions (CO2, NOx, CO, SOx, PM0.25 etc.) and noise at an airport level, and of gaseous emissions and fuel combustion for complete flight profiles at a more global level. The models are now combined into the Centre’s web-based IMPACT** tool, which is being made available to authorised users” answers Robin Deransy.

How have these models been used in practical terms?

Peter Hullah replies: “In 2008-2009, all the models successfully passed the ICAO stress tests and they have since been used in the work of the CAEP. They are also recommended for use in the environmental impact assessments of the SESAR*** programme. Furthermore, EUROCONTROL has used these models to assess the advantages generated by new reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM) between aircraft (300,000 tonnes of fuel saved in one year), and by the availability of free-flight concepts, which allow pilots to fly routes adapted to their economic needs. More recently, these tools have formed the basis for the system used by the states to verify the data transmitted to the United Nations regarding emissions linked to aviation on their territory. Lastly, they are indispensable for forecasting the environmental impact of future European air traffic.”

* ICAO: International Civil Aviation Organization

** IMPACT: An Integrated Aircraft Noise and Emissions Modelling Platform

*** SESAR: Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research