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Greener Air Traffic Operations

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GREAT (Greener Air Traffic Operations)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-06-30

The perception of environmental problems, especially global warming, is more than ever an issue, especially in this day and age when reaching agreements on today's climate targets is a challenge and a topic of concern among citizens of all ages. Associated effects of global warming, like extreme weather events, are driven primarily by the emission of exhaust gases (especially CO2, nitrogen oxides and methane) and water vapor creating contrails. Hence, reducing emissions to preserve the environment, while keeping the air mobility, is a central society need now and in the future.
To reduce the emissions in short and medium term, changes in flight trajectory design and air traffic control (ATC) operations are one appropriate means. Thereby, the flight trajectories are influenced on one hand by environmental and aircraft parameters, and on the other hand by ATC driven parameters, like route length or usable altitudes.
The overall objective of GreAT is to reduce the fuel consumption and gas emissions during “gate-to-gate” flight phases through developing and assessing environment-friendly air traffic operational concepts, adaptive airspace structures and green trajectory optimization technologies, and supporting avionic systems. Evaluation campaigns between the European partners and in combination with the Chinese partners through cross evaluations are intended to validate the proposed concept and to show a potential significant reduction of the aviation’s impact on climate change.
The first general objective for this reporting period was at first to launch the project and all processes needed to initiate and conduct project management, monitoring and scientific work. All nine main work packages (MWPs) started within the reporting period. Further, the EU-China cooperation was to be promoted and established in the first months of the project, considering cultural differences and adapting to it.

The Corona crisis seriously hit the aviation industry and reduced the possibilities of face to face meetings / workshops to zero. As a countermeasure, several online tutorial sessions were held to provide at least a basic understanding on each other’s (EU and Chinese) air traffic management (ATM) systems and procedures, and to have a starting point for further activities. This was very successful, and also the impact of CoViD-19 on other project activities was actually very limited to not existing. Therefore, the project stayed well on track, and most milestones were achieved in due time. In isolated cases, deliverables or milestones have to be postponed, but this was more for planning reasons. The development of general greener ATM concept elements, which are the basis for detailed procedure design and tool development, has been finalized. Those elements are based on the current ATM practices and development strategies in Europe and China, which were intensively studied and analyzed beforehand. ATM modelling activities started. The work on detailed full concepts optimizing short-haul and long-haul flights was kicked off as planned during Summer 2020, and related deliverables containing these concepts were finalized in spring 2021.

The development and construction of related supporting systems as prototypes on ATM side and on pilot’s side commenced in 2021.

After developing a project design / identity, a lot of communication means were set up for GreAT, starting with the website, poster / roll over and a project video. The first two newsletters were also published. Continuous exchange was carried out with the sister projects of GreAT, to coordinate common dissemination events, like the participation in the EASN conference or the ECATS conference, as well as Aerodays in 2020. A common session is planned again for the EASN conference in 2021, and the first scientific papers are expected to be published in the second half of the year.
GreAT will bring improvements to European and Chinese air traffic management and will help to reduce the environmental impact of aviation. Knowledge will be gained about the possibilities and limits of reducing CO2 emissions just by optimizing flight trajectories and adapting the air traffic management working methods. Prototypic tools will be developed, supporting the implementation of these new working methods.
Collaboration between Europe and China in this area of common interest will help exploiting the advantages from both sides. The results of this project will be beneficial for both Europe and China in terms of technology, economy and society.

The mutual benefits expected from this project are listed as follows:
• The transfer of technology and concepts will be enhanced between Europe and China in the area of air traffic management. Expertise will be shared on operational improvement to mitigate the environmental impact.
• The joint evaluation will enable a common environmental impact assessment methodology, which can be applied in both Europe and China.
• The concepts and algorithms developed in this project will be simulated and validated in the validation environments established by EU and Chinese partners to test the adaptation in European and Chinese air traffic scenarios.