Press release

Inefficiency in the European air traffic management network resulting in an average additional fuel burn of 8.6%-11.2%

Airplane flying over a forest

Inefficiency in the European air traffic management network (ATM) means that flights in Europe are using on average between 8.6% and 11.2% more fuel than the most efficient flights, according to a new report issued today by EUROCONTROL.

The report was produced to clarify potential environmental benefits the Single European Sky (SES) 2+ legislation could deliver on and contribute to the discussions in the European Council and Parliament. It uses a new approach directly based on fuel burn from take-off to landing, in order to better assess the potential benefit pool of fuel/CO2 that can be addressed by ATM. Previous work has mainly focused on time or distance-based indicators to measure the inefficiency of individual flight phases. The new operational excess fuel burn indicator allows a more holistic assessment and takes into account a range of factors such as wind when calculating the best route for different aircraft types.

This metric for the first time gives us a real picture of the levels of fuel inefficiency in the European air traffic management network. And the fact that it reveals that aircraft are using on average between 8.6% and 11.2% more fuel than the most fuel-efficient flights in the European network should be a wake-up call. However, if the political and operational changes identified in this report are implemented, we could substantially reduce the aviation sector’s CO2 emissions.”

Excess Fuel Consumption image

The report highlights multiple factors and drivers that influence fuel inefficiency in the European ATM system. These include route network constraints, availability of airspace, and airspace users’ choices, for example due to significantly different unit rates between states. Achieving a substantial improvement in fuel efficiency requires different tools, policy measures such as SES2+ and the full collaboration of all the various aviation stakeholders involved.

The study also emphasises the importance of accelerating the re-organisation of the European airspace and the deployment of new technologies, including SESAR solutions, to provide a more resilient and scalable network.

Consult our Environmental Assessment

Read more in our full European ATM Network Fuel Inefficiency Study