Air Navigation and the Environment

Published on Thursday 7 October 2021

The DSNA and its staff are committed to actively promoting an environment-conscious culture.

The DSNA environmental strategy

The DSNA has developed an environmental strategy for the entire flight phases (departure, climb, cruise, descent, and arrival).
By optimising flight efficiency, the French air navigation services improve their environmental performance and help in developing greener aviation: optimisation of flight profiles, more direct routes (shortening of routes, Advanced-Flexible Use of Airspace), Free Route Airspace above FL 195 in three cells by the end of 2021.
This strategy is also based on next generation tools for measurement and analysis, for fine-tuned management of traffic flow, for ATC with 4-FLIGHT/Coflight, along with consultation and communication processes, Research & Innovation and training.
The DSNA has already implemented specific actions to improve horizontal and vertical flight profiles near major airports, to minimise constraints on route networks and optimise connections for city-pairs.
This brochure provides a vision of the DSNA’s environmental ambitions for 2025. It also provides an opportunity to discover and better understand the various ways in which tangible results will lead to greener skies.

Air traffic and airspace management

Air traffic and airspace management encompasses a number of elements: optimised flight paths, a common European airspace with FABEC, the fight against CO2 emissions and appropriate air navigation procedures.

Air Traffic Management and Infrastructures

Air traffic management is moving towards a collaborative global approach based on the notion of "trajectory management" rather than "airspace management".
This development is based on the extensive sharing of information (traffic status and trends) for better planning, while allowing each aircraft to follow a trajectory close to its optimum. The optimisation of aircraft routes (SESAR programme in Europe) will allow 'continuous descent' type approaches, without levelling off, which reduce energy costs, waiting times before landing and noise pollution.

A collaborative approach to reducing airport emissions from aircraft involves :

  • optimised local management of departures,
  • traffic and guidance support procedures
  • the implementation of eco-landing: towing of aircraft by hybrid or electric vehicles, taxiing of aircraft with every other engine switched off, etc.
  • the establishment of alternative means to the use of UPAs (groups of
  • (on-board auxiliary power units) /GPU (ground power units),
  • the deployment of air conditioning on the ground at aircraft stations.

Managing European airspace without borders

The organisation of air traffic management in a "Common Functional Airspace Block" will lead to better environmental performance of flights through Europe.

On 2 December 2010, the transport ministers and representatives of the military authorities of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland signed the treaty on a common functional airspace block or "Functional Airspace Block Europe Central" in Brussels. Behind these somewhat daunting initials lies a major concept for the future Single European Sky. For those who have not yet mastered the ABCs of FAB, it is about managing European airspace without regard to national borders and making air navigation services more integrated and efficient.

Why? To enable the number of flights to increase by almost 50% by 2020. Instead of being managed on a country-by-country basis, European airspace will eventually be divided into nine batches called FABs, each of which will be formed by several countries grouping together on a voluntary basis.

FABEC, an essential part of the Single European Sky

With an airspace of 1.7 million km2, hosting about 55% of all European air traffic, FABEC is by far the most important of these FABs. Its central geographical position makes it an essential part of the restructuring of European airspace.
What is expected from this FABEC? To be able to absorb the expected growth in traffic with a level of safety and punctuality as high as today, to allow a reduction in air routes of 17 km on average (i.e. for 6 million flights per year, a saving of about 100 million km), to reduce the environmental impact of flights thanks in particular to optimised trajectories allowing for fuel consumption savings, and also to reduce service costs by about 20% by 2025

55 % of flights using European airspace pass through FABEC

See the files below:

"Single Sky: Europe steps back on the gas", Aviation Civile Magazine n°354 (pages 28-29)
"Flying at night saves time", Aviation Civile Magazine n°356 (pages 16-17)
"FABEC Treaty: a new step towards the Single Sky", Aviation Civile Magazine n°357 (pages 28 to 30)

 

Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA)

In France, the coordination of civil and military air traffic is very advanced. This collaboration, based on trust, ensures a high level of flight safety and optimises the use of airspace to minimise delays. The end result is significant gains in terms of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, for a greener aviation!

This is an approach that France is trying to promote among its European partners.

The fight against CO2 emissions: the AIRE project

Since the Grenelle de l'Environnement, the air transport industry has been asked to reduce its local gas emissions. The eco-calculator allows air passengers to be involved in this process.

Increased sensitivity to air quality

According to the 2010 DGAC survey on the "Image of Civil Aviation", CO2 emissions are still considered the most important factor in the nuisance and pollution caused by air transport (40% of respondents).

Nevertheless, "local air pollution" appears for the first time as the 2nd most important nuisance factor (31% of responses, compared to 25% in 2009), ahead of "noise" (29%, compared to 34% in 2009).

On a national scale, the share of air transport in NOX emissions is small but increasing :  0.5% in 2000 to 0.9% in 2008. Other air pollutant emissions (CO, SO2, VOC) from aviation are less than 0.3%.

Preserving local air quality

The Directorate-General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) is working on an action plan to restrict the use of auxiliary power units (APUs).

APUs are used to supply the aircraft with electricity, air conditioning and to start the engines. For long-haul flights, the use of APUs during a stopover results in the consumption of 300 kg of fuel, generates 945 kg of CO2 emissions and 2,400 g of NOX emissions, according to the Centre Interprofessionnel Technique d'Etudes de la Pollution Atmosphérique (CITEPA).

The Paris airports are engaged in actions aimed at using alternative, less polluting equipment, such as the use of ground power.

Reducing gas emissions: the AIRE project

The European Commission and the US Civil Aviation Administration (FAA) initiated the Atlantic Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) project in 2007. Through a programme of demonstration flights, this project aims to implement innovative procedures and modern technologies developed by research and development programmes launched on both sides of the Atlantic. This environmental challenge is accompanied by an economic challenge insofar as the price of a barrel of oil is increasingly high over the long term.

Vidéo - AIRE Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions

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AIRE (Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions) is an initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on transatlantic flights between Europe and the United States.

The Air Navigation Services Directorate (DSNA) is involved in all the European airspace reorganisation projects aimed at optimising air routes and reducing fuel consumption and hence gas emissions. A new network of night routes in the upper airspace with connections to Switzerland and Germany is gradually being established. In addition, improvements have been made to the "city-pairs" which are considered the most penalising. Significant gains have been made for airlines using these routes, particularly on intra-European cross-country routes.

1 tonne of CO2 per flight! This is the amount of CO2 saved on an optimized flight profile "La Navette" operated by Air France between Orly and Toulouse

Nuisances: aircraft take the AIRE

Nuisances: aircraft take the AIRE

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1/Taxi-out

On the ground the aircraft can only use one engine on twin-engine aircraft, or two engines on four-engine aircraft. This procedure reduces fuel consumption, exhaust and noise emissions.

 

2/Waiting time before take-off

In coordination with the airport operator, the airline and the air traffic control service, an instruction for engine start-up and taxiing is handled in such a way that waiting time at the runway threshold is limited to a maximum of 10 minutes.

 

3/Continuous climb

Air traffic control services authorise a continuous climb to cruise level without intermediate steps which significantly reduces fuel consumption and gas emissions

 

4/Cruise Climb

The aircraft burns up fuel during the flight. By coordinating with oceanic air traffic control centres, the aircraft can continue to step-climb in order to fly at its optimum level.

 

5/Continuous descent

Air traffic control services authorise a continuous descent without intermediate steps. This coordination between pilot and controller enables a reduction in gas and noise pollution at low altitude.

 

6/Taxi-in

The sharing of information reduces taxiing time. Where possible, controllers can assign a runway to an aircraft closest to its parking place.  As with the taxi-out, aircraft have the option of using only one or two engines depending on the engine type.

 

Vidéo 1 Optimisation of Paris CDG arrivals (CDG APP and Paris ACC)

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The objective of the AIRE project launched by the European Commission and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and co-financed by the SESAR JU (Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking), is to conduct experiments through organised cooperation between air navigation services, airlines and airports with a view to improving the horizontal and vertical efficiency of flights and reducing taxiing times in order to limit CO2 emissions and noise.
Discover the videos presenting two operations carried out by the DSNA and its partners in the framework of this project and broadcasted during the 2011 Paris Air Show (SIAE Salon International de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace).

Video 2 Optimisation of the Air France Paris- Toulouse shuttle service

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The objective of the AIRE project launched by the European Commission and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and co-financed by the SESAR JU (Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking), is to conduct experiments through organised cooperation between air navigation services, airlines, and airports with a view to improving the horizontal and vertical efficiency of flights and reducing taxiing times in order to limit CO2 emissions and noise.

The objective of the AIRE project launched by the European Commission and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and co-financed by the SESAR JU (Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking), is to conduct experiments through organised cooperation between air navigation services, airlines, and airports with a view to improving the horizontal and vertical efficiency of flights and reducing taxiing times in order to limit CO2 emissions and noise.

Measurable results

In 2010, the French Civil Aviation Technical Service (STAC), in conjunction with Airbus, conducted a study using digital simulation of aircraft movements at Paris-CDG airport. The aim was to assess the impact of taxiing using alternative energies on capacity and the environment. This study made it possible to evaluate the gains per aircraft in terms of fuel consumption and polluting gas emissions. In the field of water pollution control, the installation of reed filters makes it possible to improve winter management of runoff water loaded with de-icing products. In 2010, the STAC published a first national report on the evaluation of the performance of de-icing products used on French airports and initiated two new study projects on the recommendations for the use of these products.

See the files below :

"Nuisances: Aircraft take the AIRE", Civil Aviation Magazine n°353 (pages 8-9)
"Environment: an exemplary
approach", Civil Aviation Magazine n° 358 (pages 12-13)

 

Limiting the noise impact of air traffic

The reduction of the environmental impact of air traffic requires the continuous improvement of air navigation procedures, the training of air traffic controllers, the measurement of noise impact, and consultation with elected representatives and residents' associations. The air navigation services (DSNA) are working on it.

The exhaust and noise emissions of aircraft depend, among other things, on the operating power of the engines. Reducing engine power reduces noise. Certain air traffic procedures make it possible to reduce the power of the engines. Two new procedures have been introduced to limit the noise impact.

 

Continuous Descent

 

Continuous descent allows crews to conduct the flight on arrival at an aerodrome by avoiding long landings and reducing the load on the engines. The Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) has three advantages:

  • reduction in fuel consumption,
  • reduction of gaseous pollution,
  • reduction of noise pollution.

In such a configuration, at Orly, a 260-tonne B747 can save up to 600 kg of fuel, or 1800 kg of CO2 emissions, compared to a conventional level approach.
However, it is important to note that this concept cannot currently be generalised to all airport approaches for safety reasons.
Continuous descent instrument approach procedures are already operational, or under evaluation, at Marseille, Strasbourg Paris-Orly, Paris-CDG, Toulouse and Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airports. New procedures are being developed at Basel-Mulhouse, Bordeaux, Nantes and Nice.

 

Raising arrival altitudes

Raising arrival altitudes also contributes to reducing noise pollution around airports. This approach was adopted in the Paris region as part of the Grenelle Environment Forum. This complex project has been divided into three phases since 2008. The third and final phase should be implemented in Autumn 2011.

Nuisances: aircraft take the AIRE

Nuisances: aircraft take the AIRE

Afficher la version texte de l'infographie

1/Taxi-out

On the ground the aircraft can only use one engine on twin-engine aircraft, or two engines on four-engine aircraft. This procedure reduces fuel consumption, exhaust and noise emissions.

 

2/Waiting time before take-off

In coordination with the airport operator, the airline and the air traffic control service, an instruction for engine start-up and taxiing is handled in such a way that waiting time at the runway threshold is limited to a maximum of 10 minutes.

 

3/Continuous climb

Air traffic control services authorise a continuous climb to cruise level without intermediate steps which significantly reduces fuel consumption and gas emissions

 

4/Cruise Climb

The aircraft burns up fuel during the flight. By coordinating with oceanic air traffic control centres, the aircraft can continue to step-climb in order to fly at its optimum level.

 

5/Continuous descent

Air traffic control services authorise a continuous descent without intermediate steps. This coordination between pilot and controller enables a reduction in gas and noise pollution at low altitude.

 

6/Taxi-in

The sharing of information reduces taxiing time. Where possible, controllers can assign a runway to an aircraft closest to its parking place.  As with the taxi-out, aircraft have the option of using only one or two engines depending on the engine type.

 

Final approach higher with reduced noise pollution

Final approach higher with reduced noise pollution

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Raising the landing

the aircraft have left their cruising altitude and are in descent, under radar guidance by the controllers, in preparation for the final phase of their manoeuvre, they stabilise their speed at 180 knots (330km/h), as well as their altitude, then they level off for at least 30 seconds until they intercept the ILS beam. Previously the landing was done at 900m altitude. With the new procedure it is raised to 1200 m

 

Noise reduction zone

The ILS intercept point is now 5 km lower than under the previous procedure. This increase in altitude results in a reduction in ground noise of 3 to 4 decibels, i.e. 50% less noise energy. This reduction concerns the entire area above which the aircraft flies at an altitude of more than 1200 m, i.e. a perimeter of about 20 km around the runway.

 

Final descent

From the moment the aircraft intercepts the ILS and starts its final descent, the reduction in decibels compared to the previous procedure decreases gradually, until the aircraft reaches the previous descent point after 5km, located 15km from the runway threshold.

Finally, the initial training of air traffic control engineers (ICNA) and senior civil aviation technicians (TSEEAC) includes environmental concerns.

How is noise impact measured?

Noise impact assessments aim to provide all relevant information to understand and measure the environmental impact of a procedural change. They help to minimise the number of inhabitants subject to a noise level above 65 dB.

The latest noise impact studies were carried out in 2010 on the airports of Bordeaux, Marseille, Nice, Cannes, the La Môle-Saint Tropez airfield and the Toulon airfield on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

The figure: 65dB is the threshold for noise that disturbs a conversation.

 

How to find out about noise around Paris airports?

Communication with local residents is a constant concern for the air navigation services: meetings with retired air traffic controllers are organised in the Environment and Sustainable Development Centres at Paris-CDG and Paris-Orly airports, which, as in certain Ile de France communities, have a noise measurement and flight path visualisation tool (VITRAIL).

To find out if your municipality has Vitrail:
environnement-dsna@aviation-civile.gouv.fr Furthermore, it is possible to find out online the characteristic days showing the overflight areas in the Paris region.
As the direction of use of the runways depends on the wind direction, the document shows overflight maps for an east-facing day and a west-facing day. The selected days, called characteristic days, are high traffic days during which the usual air traffic procedures were used.

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