Change how aircraft land to cut carbon dioxide emissions

Thursday, April 2, 2009, 19:18 by Aviation Correspondent

Airlines in Europe plan to cut carbon emissions by changing landing procedure.

Aviation groups based in Europe have announced a plan to alter the way commercial aircraft land with a view to reducing emissions of carbon dioxide from planes.

Smooth descent will cut 450 kilograms of carbon dioxide per landing

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), by 2013, about 100 airports in Europe will allow approaching aircraft to descend from their cruising altitude to the runway in a single, smooth movement. This sort of landing would help save as much as 450 kilograms (992 pounds) of carbon dioxide emissions per landing.

The International Air Transport Association, the international trade group of airlines, currently represents about 230 airlines comprising 93% of scheduled global air traffic.

Guenther Matschnigg, head of infrastructure at the International Air Transport Association, said in Geneva that, on the whole, airlines were seeking to cut 500,000 metric tons of emissions annually by means of the change in landing procedure.

In a statement, Matschnigg said the new initiative by European airlines to cut emissions of carbon dioxide – which contributes considerably to global warming – would be the first of its kind in Europe and also “represents the ongoing efforts of the airline industry in Europe to combat global warming.”
The move also comes amidst a major global economic recession, when businesses and governments are concerned about transforming carbon-dependent economies, the IATA statement added.

A two-day summit of leaders of the aviation industry held in Geneva recently had discussed the impact of aviation on the environment. The meeting had noted that, while the current slump in air travel would help reduce carbon emissions in the short term, a long-term and sustainable reduction would need more efficient use of airspace as well as use of new technology.

Giovanni Bisignani, director-general of the International Air Transport Association, had explained at the Geneva meeting that about 6% of the predicted reduction in emissions of carbon would be as a result of airlines flying less number of planes in 2009. Another 1.8% reduction would come from measures to enhance energy efficiency, resulting in a total reduction of 10 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2009.

According to the IATA, while passenger traffic is expected to fall by 5.7% in 2009, air-cargo traffic would come down by as much as 13% – both declines in traffic together resulting in a reduction in the aviation sector’s carbon emissions by 6% in 2009.

Meanwhile, the media quoted an official of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), the organisation representing air-navigation service providers around the world, as saying that reductions in emissions of carbon also could be accomplished by making better use of available airspace.
Many environment groups have predicted that air traffic would increase four-fold between now and 2050 – far outweighing efforts being made at present to contain carbon emissions.