NATS has data on its first 6 months of new flight efficiency metric, 3Di
NATS has released data from the first 6 months of operation of its new metric to reduce aircraft emissions of planes in UK airspace, through improved efficiency of airspace management and flight path directness. The metric is called 3Di. Flights are given a score depending on how fuel efficient their course has been, by continuous climb departures, cruise levels as requested by airspace users and continuous descents, as well as most direct point-to-point routeings – ie. horizontal and vertical line. NATS claims the 3Di tool will give huge fuel savings, it ” is designed to deliver 600,000 tonnes of CO2 savings over the next 3 years – the equivalent to 10,000 flights from London to New York.” The challenge for NATS is sorting out direct flight paths with a high volume of flights and limited runway capacity (at some times of day) at Heathrow, as well as bad weather.
NATS on course to hit first annual environmental performance target set by its world-first flight efficiency metric
Photo – NATS
3 Aug 2012 (GreenAir online)
The UK’s air navigation service provider NATS has released the latest results of its performance data under its 3Di flight efficiency metric introduced in January. During its first six months in operation – to June – 3Di has achieved an indexed score of 24, as based on the scale set by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Scores range from 0, which represents zero inefficiency to over 100, with most flights typically in the range between 15 and 35.
The CAA has set a target indexed score, or par value, of 24 for 2012 and 2013 so NATS is on track to meet its required performance target for this year. Under the scheme, a world first, NATS stands to be financially rewarded for exceeding the target or penalised for failing to deliver the expected efficiency gains. The 3Di tool is designed to deliver 600,000 tonnes of CO2 savings over the next three years – the equivalent to 10,000 flights from London to New York, says NATS.
3Di has been developed by NATS in conjunction with the CAA and also airlines, which stand to save up to £120 million ($180m) in fuel costs at today’s prices as well as help improve their environmental performance.
The tool assists air traffic controllers in routing aircraft as close to the environmental optimum as possible by accurately measuring the efficiency of each flight in UK airspace. It compares the actual trajectory that an aircraft takes (from real radar data) with an optimal profile to minimise fuel burn and emissions. This means it measures the benefits delivered by air traffic controllers of a smooth, continuous descent or climb, cruise levels as requested by pilots and the most direct point-to-point routings, explains NATS.
The biggest improvements in performance are expected to be delivered by changes to the design and operation of airspace and by improving access to shared airspace, although day-to-day changes to the way air traffic controllers direct aircraft can also have a positive impact on the 3Di score.
“Our challenge will be to do this in the face of factors that affect the score negatively, such as the volume of flights within our network, limited runway capacity which leads to aircraft holding and bad weather,” says NATS. “Adapting our operation to become more resilient to these external factors will help drive the score down.”
Commenting on the half-year indexed score, NATS’ Head of Environmental Affairs, Ian Jopson, said: “We introduced 3Di because we want to deliver a service to airlines that not only helps them save money in difficult economic times, but also improves the environmental performance of the aviation industry.
“As such, it is hugely encouraging to see that we are having a genuine impact and delivering real savings already, despite the seasonal increases in traffic levels.”
CAA sets new targets for NATS to cut airline CO2 and improve flight efficiency
The proposals are published for consultation. The CAA targets involve the directness
of flights and how smooth the climb and descent is for every flight. NATS and
CAA will monitor and publish monthly performance figures. http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=4684
Putting these savings in context:
BAA says the total number of annual air transport movements from Heathrow in 2011 was 476,197 with New York the most popular destination. http://www.heathrowairport.com/about-us/facts-and-figures
And the total number of ATMs for the UK in 2011 was 2,046,000. http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/80/airport_data/2011Annual/Table_04_2_Air_Transport_Movements_2001_2011.pdf
So that would be around 1,428,000 flights from Heathrow over 3 years. Just from Heathrow. So a saving of 10,000 flights to New York over that time – even taking into account that many Heathrow flights are to destinations much closer than New York – the saving is going to be under 5% of the total fuel being burned by planes being managed by NATS. But any saving is better than nothing.
And the 10,000 as a % of flights from all UK airports over 3 years (3 x 2,046,000 = 61,380,000) is not high ….