Lars Håkansson, Managing Director, LFV Aviation Consulting AB
When greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) enter the atmosphere they act like a blanket around the earth, trapping in the sun’s heat. Worldwide, the airline industry is responsible for 2 – 3% of global man-made CO2 emissions, and growing demand and the absence of any alternative energy source in the short or medium term mean that this figure is likely to rise to 15% by 2050
The airline industry is convinced that air travel can be made more sustainable. The European Union has taken a leading role in the industry in Europe, setting an example as the most sustainable region with the implementation of an Emissions Trading System (ETS) for air transport, set to start in 2012. The ETS, in which emission rights can be bought and sold, rewards airlines for implementing more efficient flight operations. We view it as an effective instrument to help manage CO2 emissions. The underlying principle – that the polluter pays – further stimulates the industry to invest in measures that will limit emissions. Whatever the case may be, most of the European airlines are taking steps to undergo CO2-neutral growth through to 2011.
Air transport demand is growing very rapidly all over the world, especially in Asia and Africa where we foresee a big increase of flights. These increases will have a big impact on pollution from a global perspective, and when Asian or African countries reach the western level of flying, the transportation system will need to develop more efficient ways to minimise the environmental pollution.
Health problems affecting the people who live around the airports are also a problem which will become even bigger as traffic grow. The pollution problem from air, water and noise, as well as from the extremely high pressure on land transport between the airport and the cities, are major factors.
The main air pollutants in cities are sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (usually expressed as PM if less than 10 microns, PM10, or if less than 2.5 microns – PM2.5), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and lead. Average levels of PM10 have increased slightly since 2001, SO2 levels are also increasing and NO2 is stable. It is important to note that in 2006 the average SO2 levels remained below World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline values, but PM10 levels continue to exceed WHO guideline values.
In many countries around the world there are no standards and regulations for Environmental Pollution Control for the integrated aviation and road systems. Domestic and international Air Traffic is growing fast and the governmental restrictions or regulations to solve the environmental problems are at least one step behind. There is a need for action to be taken against pollution in many countries and this action should have been taken – yesterday. The use of fossil fuel emissions and issued with noise and pollution cannot be stopped altogether, but with new technologies and better and more efficient ways to make the airports and the over flights more environmentally effective, we can have a better solution for the aviation sector. In some countries this problem is very real already, therefore many actors are involved in projects like “Green Flights” or “Green Airports”.
When new technologies are introduced, there is a need for Environmental training for all staff involved. LFV Aviation Consulting, Swedavia and LFV are introducing Green flights and Green Airports, and projects are being successfully introduced in Sweden, both at Arlanda International Airport and in the Airspace organisation. The success of these projects also rely on the participation of all involved actors such, including the airport and airline operators. For example, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) are heavily involved in some of the projects. In fact, the participation of all concerned actors is a success recipe for Green projects. Also the fact that Green projects are “win-win”, both saving money (fuel) and the environment facilitates cooperation and progress. So far we have only very positive feedback from all participants in the projects.
The term ”Green Approach” was first used in connection with the first flight trials performing continuous descent approaches (CDAs) into Stockholm Arlanda Airport in 2006. In the press, the term has been used to describe flights with minimised negative environmental impact. Since the trials more than 15,000 CDAs have been initiated at Arlanda, with a total of more than 1,000 tonnes of fuel saved.
The definition of a Green Approach is: ”Planning and execution of an approach, minimising the environmental effect (emissions and noise) as much as possible. This is achieved by flying a Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) with minimum thrust. The Green Approach is executed from Top of Descent (ToD) using the CDA procedure”.
Within the Green Approach sub-project, LFV is working to implement procedures and system support to facilitate Green Approaches to Stockholm Arlanda, Göteborg Landvetter, Malmö and Umeå Airports. Eventually all airports where LFV is the Service Provider for Air Traffic Control, will be offering Green Approaches, striving to meet the goal of making eight out of 10 approaches green from 2012.
The advantages include:
• Minimised noise exposure around airports
• Estimated fuel savings of 50-150kg per approach
• Cost savings for airlines due to fuel burn and increased predictability
• Reduced CO2 emissions
The Green Departure sub-project will address environmental activities in the departure phase of flight. The definition of a Green Departure is: “Planning and execution of a departure, minimising the environmental effect (emissions and noise) as much as possible. This is achieved by using optimised procedures, methods and technical support tools that minimise idling time on ground and allow an optimised flight path up to cruise level”.
The first step in Green Departure has been to provide documentation for the procurement of a system support – DMAN (Departure Manager). At large airports there is, at times, a queue of departing traffic on the taxiway. By introducing a DMAN, queuing can be reduced to a minimum and the departing flow can be optimised from an environmental perspective.
The advantages include:
• Minimised taxi time on runway
• Increased predictability and punctuality
• improved planning for airlines
• Improved airport gate allocation process and planning
• Reduced workload for ATC
The last “Green terminology” for Green Flights is “Green Cruise”. The definition of Green Cruise is: “Planning and execution of a flight on cruise level, minimising the environmental effect (emissions) as much as possible. This is done by giving the airlines, flying over Flight Level 285 (28,500 feet) already in the planning phase on ground, were the Airliners Operational units can take into consideration that the flight will get the shortest flight path in Swedish airspace”. Less fuel is needed and the time for the Aircraft in the air is shorter and pollution is minimised.
Free Routes Airspace
Through the implementation of “Free Routes Airspace in Sweden” (FRAS), aircraft flying above FL285 will be able to file flight plans based on the shortest route through Swedish airspace. The initiative have led to reduced emissions as the routes flown will be shorter. This cooperation in the Airspace is moving forward because of a very good and interactive cooperation between LFV, the Swedish Air Force and the whole Swedish Military organisation.
The estimated savings from FRAS, based on a reduction in flying time of 10h/day, adds up to more than 5,400 tonnes of fuel saved every year in Sweden alone.
Bringing the concept together
To perform an Eco Airport Concept for reduction of emissions from airport activities, in order to make a greener airport (Eco Airport), the plan must be to involve all participants at the Airport. The concept includes detailed regulations, guidelines and an implementation plan for reducing emissions from ground transports and air traffic at airside and landside at airports, as well as around airports and to and from the city.
A good example of this concept can be found at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, where environmentally clean vehicles get preferential treatment. The airport is working in various ways to increase the share of environmentally clean vehicles, or vehicles that run on renewable fuels. By 2012, all of Swedavia’s vehicles will run on renewable fuel or be classified as “clean”. The same applies to vehicles belonging to other airport-based companies and organisations that operate inside the airport area.
At Arlanda, also new techniques are introduces to minimise fuel burn of vehicles, such as for aircraft in the Green Departure case. One example is the optimisation of passenger bus transport from aircraft at remote parking stands, which has been optimised with a “Bus coordination system”. This system provide the bus drivers with timely accurate “work orders” on where to be at what time, in real-time, via datalink. The system also includes other services, accessible to the bus driver on a display including a moving map, and the result is a more efficient and fuel saving operation. This is one example of a SWIM-like (system wide information management) application, where all players at an airport are sharing and using the best available data to make optimal decisions on their operations.
The environmental issue is one of the most important tasks for the Airport, but as with many other things at a big Airport such as Arlanda you must always prioritise safety. For LFV and Swedavia these are two targets that have to be a top priority, along with all improvements.
As a result, measures include the improvement of the infrastructure for renewable fuel at Stockholm Arlanda.
Clean vehicles are prioritised at Stockholm Arlanda in a number of ways, including:
• A separate queue for eco-taxis, in front of the ordinary taxi queue. In this way it is easy for travellers to choose the environmentally best taxi alternative at Stockholm Arlanda. Because of the introduction of such separate queues, the number of eco-taxis has increased at the airport from 1% in 2005 to more than 80% in 2010
• At Stockholm Arlanda parking facilities, the best spaces are reserved for environmentally clean vehicles
• There are discounts on permits for clean vehicles driven by other companies and organisations at the airport. A vehicle permit is required if a vehicle is to be used inside the airport fence at Stockholm Arlanda.
And for the future we see some interesting targets:
• By 2012, all Swedavia vehicles shall run on renewable fuel or be classified as environmentally clean. The same applies to vehicles driven by other companies and organisations in the airport area. Even today, it is possible to fill up a vehicle with both biogas and ethanol at the airport, but work is under way to improve the infrastructure and thus the availability of renewable fuels at the airport. Airports also use various types of specialised vehicles and machinery that run on diesel fuel. Swedavia is studying the possibility of buying or producing its own biofuel so it can supply a 100% renewable and locally produced vehicle fuel for companies and organisations operating in the area.
• The airport’s target is that all taxis that serve Stockholm Arlanda shall be eco-taxis by 2011.
The Eco Airport Concept from Swedavia and LFV Aviation Consulting is developed and based on the Eco Airport Concept at Arlanda Airport, which was selected in 2009/2010 as the best environmental airport (Eco Airport) in the world. The project is widely recognised as the benchmark for more environmentally friendly facilities in the future.