The fourth Aviation and Environment Summit held recently in Geneva, Switzerland has yielded to a joint action plan by various organizations to reduce the CO2 emitted by aircraft in Europe by over half a million tons a year. Among those organizations include ACI EUROPE, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), EUROCONTROL and the International Air Transport Association.

The plan will implement Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) at up to 100 airports across Europe by the end of 2013. This would be broadest introduction of the process undertaken to date.

CDA, where aircraft fly a smooth approach into an airport rather than the classical stepped approach, not only reduces fuel burn by between 50 and 150 kg for a short-to-medium haul aircraft, but also reduces CO2 emissions by 160 to 470 kg per flight. CDA also reduces noise around the airport by between 1 and 5 decibels. With CDA in place at 100 airports in Europe, airlines will save 150,000 tons of fuel and 100 million Euros a year while reducing CO2 by half a million tons.

“Our cooperation will address crucial short-term and long-term challenges for European aviation,” Olivier Jankovec, director general ACI EUROPE, said. CDA will benefit residents living around many European airports by lowering noise and carbon emissions, saving airlines money at a time when every cent counts – a rare win-win, in an increasingly challenging operating environment.”

For his part, CANSO secretary general Alexander ter Kuile said: “CANSO’s European members welcome this initiative and will be working closely with our colleagues to introduce this important operational technique. CDA is just one of a number of initiatives that ANSPs are undertaking to reduce fuel burn and CDA offers significant fuel savings which have both an environmental and financial benefit to airlines.”

“This action plan is yet another demonstration of how seriously the aviation community takes the need to reduce the environmental impact of flying,” said Lex Hendriks, deputy director Network Development at EUROCONTROL. “It is a good example of what can be achieved when a number of organizations work together in partnership, sharing good practice, and is an early deliverable for the SESAR program to which so many of us are committed.”

Guenther Matschnigg, senior vice president, Safety Operations and Infrastructure at the International Air Transport Association said: “This plan is an excellent example of airlines, manufacturers, airports, air navigation service providers and governments working together. Allowing continuous descent means aircraft will operate at their maximum efficiency with fewer emissions and less noise. It’s a win-win for all.”

The action plan was developed by 19 organizations and companies across Europe, including air navigation service providers, manufacturers, airports, and airlines. It supports the Flight Efficiency Plan launched in 2008 by IATA, CANSO and EUROCONTROL and with which ACI EUROPE is associated.