Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ATM4E Report Summary

Project ID: 699395
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ATM4E (Air Traffic Management for environment)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2016-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Beyond the desire to minimise fuel use and hence CO2 emissions, currently the consideration of environmental aspects in en-route flight planning has not been operational practice. However, previous studies have shown that climate and environmental impacts can be reduced by operational measures, i.e. by changing the flight trajectory. Knowing that anthropogenic contribution to climate change and environmental quality, e.g. air quality is one challenge for society in order to develop sustainable aviation.

However, systematic and simultaneous consideration and optimization of environmental impacts, comprising climate impact, air quality and noise issues, are currently lacking. The exploratory research project ATM4E (Air Traffic Management for Environment, SESAR2020) addresses this gap and explores the feasibility of a concept for a multi-dimensional environmental assessment of ATM operations working towards environmental optimization of air traffic operations in the European airspace.

The first objective is to establish a multi-dimensional environmental change function (ECF) concept, which includes air quality impact (for key pollutants) and perceived noise in addition to climate impact. This will constitute a new metric for an environmental assessment (Workpackage 1). The second objective is to plan flight trajectories which mitigate the environmental impact for characteristic meteorological situations based on different ATM constraint assumptions and optimization strategies and investigate to what extent the resulting changes in traffic flows lead to particular challenges for air traffic management when such optimization is performed (Workpackage 2). The third objective is to evaluate environmentally-optimized routes in a future atmosphere in a comprehensive climate-chemistry modelling allowing a proof of concept of climate-optimisation with daily route analysis (Workpackage 3). Finally, a roadmap will be developed with recommendations and an implementation strategy for the environmental optimization of aircraft trajectories in close collaboration with aviation stakeholders (Workpackage 4).

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In the first six months of the Project ATM4E regarding the first Project objective which is to establish a multi-dimensional environmental change function (ECF) concept, including air quality impact (for key pollutants) and perceived noise in addition to climate impact, based on a detailed analysis (meteorology, flight planning) a decision on date of case study analysis was taken. For this purpose a detailed data requirement on environmental change functions to be defined was prepared.

In preparation for the planning of optimized flight trajectories, which is the second Project objective, air traffic data for Europe has been processed and filtered. For this purpose first different candidate days were defined with an adequate balance between traffic load and ATM Network disturbance; out of these a reference day for the optimization study has been selected based on meteorological considerations resulting in a filtered set of flights that has been statistically analysed and provided as data set. In a second step the environmental impact of the selected air traffic has been determined by reproducing all flights with a trajectory calculator and simulating the release of engine emissions along them. The resulting emission amounts of carbon dioxide, water vapour and Nitrogen oxides were finally provided in a 3D-grid depending on their location and altitude. In addition also the potential forming of contrails caused by these flights has been estimated.

Regarding the third objective to evaluate environmentally-optimized routes in future atmosphere, the first step, to define the evaluation procedure, has been achieved. Moreover, an earth-system model (EMAC/AirTraf), which includes routing and optimization options, has been selected and successfully configured. The EMAC/Airtraf will be the basis for the flight routes evaluation. For the quality check of the EMAC/AirTraf, two sets of simulations have been conducted w.r.t. the Great Circle scenario and the time optimal scenario. In addition, simulations on the potential coverage of contrail have been performed to identify the contrail formation sensitive regions along flight trajectories.

In order to have available at the end of the Project a roadmap with recommendations and an implementation strategy for the environmental optimization of aircraft trajectories, close collaboration and communication with aviation stakeholders has been established. A decision on a communication strategy was taken, by identifying means of communication and establishing an external expert Advisory Board.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The derivation of algorithmic Climate Change Functions in the workpackage on Environmental Change Functions, with their dependence on prevailing weather conditions, is novel. The work so far on the component of the Climate Change Functions, as applied to the impact of water vapour emissions, indicates the potential of the technique.
Of the aviation non-CO2 climate components, it is likely that characterising water vapour emissions is the simplest (compared to applying a similar technique for contrails and nitrogen oxide emissions), but success at this stage is nevertheless an important step forward in establishing the feasibility of the technique. The concept of calculating Environmental Change Functions in order to account for the environmental impact of aircraft operations on the local level (air Quality and noise) extends the boundaries of the current state of the art. Full integration of local air quality and noise metrics in the study is still at an early stage but the preparatory work undergone in the first few months for establishing a standard methodology shows promising results.
Progress towards a multi-dimensional environmental assessment framework has been made. Such a framework unifies individual environmental impacts of aviation and environmental performance criteria. Having available such an assessment framework enables a comprehensive, simultaneous analysis of environmental performance of aircraft operations and trajectories.
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