UK aviation targets cleaner, quieter take-offs

A new code of practice is being launched to minimise emissions, improve air quality and reduce noise from aircraft taking off at UK airports.
A Departures & Ground Operations Code of Practice Working Group, comprising airlines, airports, manufacturers and air traffic control, has worked for the past five years to develop the Code,
The UK Civil Aviation Authority, the industry’s regulator, provided technical support on behalf of the Department for Transport, primarily on noise issues.
It addresses aircraft operations at the terminal and on the taxiways; air traffic operations on take-off; and cross-airport operations and the interactions needed between every agency to ensure that decisions are taken using the best possible information.
At its heart are four key initiatives:
*Use of airport terminal-based power and pre-conditioned air sources or mobile ground power rather than the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit (APU) when aircraft are on stand. APUs are noisier and use around six times more fuel than ground units.
*Taxiing without using all the engines which can save up to 40% in ground level fuel burn and associated CO2 emissions, and up to 30% in NOx emissions.
*Taking off on a continuous climb, rather than stepped climb, to cruise level; avoiding steps saves an average of 6% in climb fuel.
*Introduction of Airport Collaborative Decision Making at all major airports bringing together all live operational data to streamline decision making; this can save at least two minutes on taxi times.
British Airways Captain, Dean Plumb, who chaired the working group, said: “The aviation industry has consistently delivered improvements to limit the impact of its operations on the environment. This is another example of the UK taking a lead in innovating new solutions and our aspiration is to create a universal code of practice. The biggest benefits will be at the bigger airports but reductions in noise, fuel burn and associated emissions will be of significance for all airports and all operators.”
Matt Gorman, Chair of Sustainable Aviation, and Sustainability Director at BAA, said, “Sustainable Aviation welcomes today’s launch of the Departures & Ground Operations Code of Practice. This shows what can be achieved by the industry working collaboratively, to bring about cleaner, quieter, smarter aviation both now and into the future.”
The Departures Code follows the success of an equivalent Arrivals Code of Practice which was introduced in the UK in 2004. One of its key initiatives was the use of continuous, rather than stepped, descent to landing, a procedure which is now in use worldwide and considered best environmental practice.
Sustainable Aviation, a cross-industry environmental initiative, will now take over implementation of the Departures Code and will report progress in 12 months’ time.