Celebrating World Environment Day

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World Environment Day

World Environment Day is the UN's most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. It takes place each year on June 5th. 

To support global awareness and action for the protection of our environment, we take a quick look at how EUROCONTROL helps minimise aviation’s environmental impact.

Today we celebrate World Environment Day which focuses on joining efforts across all industries to beat plastic pollution. We are happy that airlines and airports are coming up with innovative ways of eliminating non-recyclable plastics from their operations.

EUROCONTROL has long been engaged on the environmental front. We are proud to put our environmental expertise at the service of our Member States, the European Union, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the wider aviation community to help measure, monitor and mitigate the impact aviation is having on the environment.

We have different tools and methods to help minimise aviation’s environmental footprint.

Our Collaborative Environment Management (CEM) Specification describes a process for core operational stakeholders to jointly assess environmental issues affecting airports and identify common solutions for common concerns. This meeting of stakeholders is called the “CEM Working Arrangement”; it spells out the roles and responsibilities featured in the CEM Specification.

The airport and its stakeholders can pool expertise and resources to address local concerns while securing current operations as well as the future sustainable development of the airport.

To support the implementation of CEM Working Arrangements we have developed the CEM-Online tool. This provides a platform to support airport operators, ANSPs and aircraft operators to establish Working Arrangements or adapt an existing one.

Continuous Climb and Descent Operations (CCO and CDO) are aircraft operating techniques. Using them, aircraft can follow an optimal flight path and, without compromising safety, deliver concrete environmental benefits:

  • less noise: between 1 and 5 decibels less per descent
  • fewer emissions
  • less fuel burn: on average, around 43kg of fuel per CDO flight in the European Civil Aviation Conference area.

Using the technique, aircraft climb or descend continuously, as far as possible. With CCO, the aircraft use optimum climb engine thrust and speeds until they reach their cruising levels. With CDO, they use minimum thrust, ideally in a low drag configuration, before their final approach fix.

Through our Emission Trading Scheme Support Facility we help the European Commission, the States of the European Economic Area (EEA) and aircraft operators implement the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

Under the ETS, aircraft operators have to:

  • monitor their annual CO2 emissions for intra-EEA flights
  • prepare a related annual emissions report and have it verified by an independent accredited verifier
  • submit the verified report to their emissions to the Competent Authority of the EEA State they have been attributed to
  • surrender allowances for the reported emissions.

The ETS Support Facility contains traffic information for all flights subject to the EU ETS and for each of such flight fuel burn and CO2 emissions estimates. The facility indicates to the European Commission which State should be administering which aircraft operator. It also helps aircraft operators, accredited verifiers and States’ Competent Authorities to assess the completeness and coherence of the annual emissions reports.

Our IMPACT - Integrated Aircraft Noise and Emissions Modelling Platform - is a web application for assessing the impact of civil aviation on the environment in terms of noise and gaseous/particulate emissions.

IMPACT is one of the approved models for conducting assessments for the Modelling and Database Group (MDG) of the ICAO Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), both for fuel/emissions and noise. It is compliant with the ECAC Doc. 29 method for computing noise contours around airports and relies on the EUROCONTROL Advanced Emission Model (AEM) for calculating emissions from fuel burn; this is also an approved CAEP MDG model.

We have also developed Open-ALAQS, a stand-alone application that helps us carry out a four-dimensional inventory of emissions. Emissions from airport sources, such as aircraft operation activities, and the emissions from aircraft and non-airport sources, such as those from road traffic to/from the airport, are calculated, aggregated and subsequently displayed for analysis.

Open-ALAQS supports airport local air quality studies, which is an increasingly important issue for airports and local communities, in particular in the light of political concerns about emissions’ impact on the health of people at and around airports.

Using AEM, and by processing PRISME traffic data, we have calculated the fuel burn and emissions generated by aircraft movements for all ECAC countries. This emissions inventory helps States to check or report on their emissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.

The emissions inventory work is funded by the European Commission’s DG CLIMA; we deliver data for the EU States to the European Environment Agency. This work is of fundamental importance: aviation emissions not only contribute to climate change but can also affect ecosystems and populations far from where they were generated. At EUROCONTROL, we take environmental concerns very seriously indeed.