How ATM can drive the industry to net zero

The Boeing Theatre hosted an in-depth presentation on how ATM can play its part in greening the skies.

Vicki Hughes and William McMaster from Egis accepted that aviation is a carbon-intensive industry and there are enormous pressures to reduce CO2 from customers through to governments. Even banks are looking at whether investments are aligned with the Paris Agreement and so future projects will depend on an organisation’s green credentials.

The talk explained the Scopes, which were laid down in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol:

  • Scope 1 – direct emissions, such as facilities and vehicles.
  • Scope 2 – indirect emissions, such as energy supply source
  • Scope 3 – other indirect emissions throughout the supply chain, such as aircraft emissions.

A holistic approach involving all stakeholders is therefore essential because emissions can occur at any point in the supply chain.

It was suggested that, for any organisation, including air navigation service providers (ANSPs), a roadmap is a good place to start. This would establish the existing carbon footprint as a baseline for future improvements. The roadmap would then explore where new technologies, collaboration, and advanced procedures can be properly utilised, and the timeframes involved. A roadmap could even consider charges and how they can be used to incentivise greener practices.

Relevant accreditations and certifications, such as CANSO’s GreenATM and ISO standards, are also important markers on the road to net zero. ANSPs should be aware that these can take time and resources, but they are extremely useful tools for identifying any gaps and plotting progress.

Airspace changes and modernisation were also highlighted as essential enablers for sustainability. Airspace changes require close collaboration but will facilitate free route airspace, cross-border operations and continuous descent approaches, all of which offer significant efficiency and sustainability gains.

The presenters also noted that a sustainability dashboard can assist ANSPs in recognising air traffic management inefficiencies. A dashboard can give an “at-a-glance” overview of such topics as operational performance, weather patterns and airline routing preferences.

“We must encourage a proactive approach,” concluded Hughes. “We must balance growth requirements with environmental responsibility.”