Tue 11 Apr 2017 – Until now, calculating emissions from aircraft in Sweden has assumed airlines take the straightest and shortest routes, despite this not being the usual case in real-world conditions. A collaboration involving the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), the Swedish Transport Agency and Sweden’s air navigation service provider LFV is now trying to narrow the gap between estimated and actual flight paths. The project has involved FOI, a leading defence and security research institute that also studies the environmental impact of aircraft, accessing LFV’s radar tracks from 2,200 domestic flights during a few weeks in 2016. By studying the radar tracks, FOI has been able to refine its calculation model and bring down the difference by around 8 per cent. LFV said the outcome could lead to lower fuel consumption and a reduced climate impact from the aviation sector.
Tue 28 Mar 2017 – Seaweed could become a promising source of biofuels for aviation if sustainably produced and economic and policy challenges can be overcome, says a report by Norwegian NGO Bellona. Seaweeds, or macroalgae, generally contain high amounts of carbohydrates (sugars) that make them highly suitable for bioethanol and biobutanol production, where the sugars are fermented. They belong to the fastest growing species in the world and growth rates far exceed those of terrestrial plants, plus the rapid growth also means they absorb significant amounts of CO2. Most importantly, they do not compete for valuable land space or fresh water during cultivation as do many crops grown for biofuels. Industrial seaweed cultivation, where it is mainly used in food production and pharmaceuticals, is largely confined to Asia whereas in Europe it is in the very early development phase. However, says the report, there is a golden opportunity to design a high-potential sustainable aviation biofuel industry effectively from scratch.
Fri 24 Mar 2017 – Vienna Airport has filed an appeal to Austria’s highest courts over a ruling by a lower federal court that a new third runway would violate the country’s climate protection laws. The airport operator, Flughafen Wien, has lodged a complaint with the Austrian Constitutional Court arguing the ruling violates its guaranteed rights and freedoms to carry on a business. It has also filed an extraordinary appeal with the Austrian Supreme Administrative Court that the ruling contained serious procedural violations, inconsistent reasoning and was materially unlawful. In its judgment handed down last month, the Federal Administrative Court ruled the positive economic benefits of the airport expansion were outweighed by the potential harm to the public interest from climate change caused by higher carbon emissions as a result of increased flights. However, the airport argues national climate protection law specifically excludes CO2 emissions from flight traffic and it is anyhow only responsible for its own CO2 emissions.
Fri 24 Mar 2017 – The air traffic management system to reduce the fuel-intensive and polluting holding stacks of aircraft arriving into London’s Heathrow Airport, the busiest hub in Europe, has now been fully extended to include flights travelling through Irish airspace. First trialled by UK air navigation service provider (ANSP) NATS in 2014, the XMAN (Cross-Border Arrival Management) system aims to instruct pilots to slow down the speed of their aircraft up to 350 nautical miles from Heathrow to avoid delays and unnecessary fuel burn. NATS, which has also been collaborating with ANSPs in France and the Netherlands, says XMAN is so far delivering over 4,700 tonnes of fuel savings for airlines annually, representing nearly 15,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. It is a key concept of the Single European Sky initiative, which will require 24 airports across Europe to deploy XMAN procedures by 2024.
Wed 22 Mar 2017 – A year after issuing a joint Request for Information (RFI) from parties interested in supporting the development and production of sustainable aviation fuel in the region, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia say they have had strong interest both locally and from abroad. The airlines have now completed an extensive review of more than 30 responses from organisations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe and the United States. When announcing the RFI, the airline partners said that while the aviation biofuel development was accelerating internationally, it was not the case in their region. A roadmap report published in 2011 by the Australian government science research agency CSIRO found that by 2020 a 5 per cent bio-derived jet fuel share could be possible in Australia and New Zealand, expanding to 40 per cent by 2050. Despite both airlines having engaged in a number of early alternative fuel initiatives, progress so far has been slow however.
Mon 20 Mar 2017 – Using biofuels to help power jet engines reduces particle emissions in their exhaust by as much as 50 to 70 per cent and so can help reduce contrail formations that produce climate warming effects, say research scientists led by NASA. The findings, published in the journal Nature, follow a series of flight tests undertaken in 2013 and 2014 as part of the Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions Study, or ACCESS, in which NASA partnered with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the National Research Council Canada (NRC). The tests involved flying NASA’s workhorse DC-8 as high as 40,000 feet while its four engines burned a 50/50 blend of conventional jet fuel mixed with camelina-derived biofuel. A trio of research aircraft took turns to fly behind the aircraft at distances ranging from 300 feet to more than 20 miles to take measurements and study contrail formation.