Seasonal flexible airspace use reduces fuel burn

Seasonal arrangements between air navigation service providers in charge of some of Europe’s busiest airspace have helped save 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
The air navigation service providers within the FABEC functional airspace block experience significantly varying air traffic volumes throughout the year and traditionally manage a smaller volume of traffic during the winter months.
This gives individual FABEC air traffic control centres the opportunity to use seasonably improved flight profiles in coordination with their neighbouring units.
Overall, the FABEC air navigation service providers have optimised over 111 flight profiles and identified another 42 for possible implementation.
Three examples are:

  • Traffic from Italy to Madrid via waypoint BALEN is a seasonal horizontal improvement resulting in 282 tonnes of fuel saved per year.
  • Traffic from Barcelona via Marseilles over waypoint LUMAS is a seasonal departure arrangement resulting in 271 tonnes of fuel saved per year.
  • Traffic inbound Marseilles airport via waypoint LERGA is a seasonal arrival arrangement resulting in 237 tonnes of fuel saved per year.

Flexible airspace management has increased considerably in the FABEC airspace with daily improved international cooperation. The gains these flexible agreements brought about mainly target defined city pairs and connections to airports.
The air traffic control centres in Aix-en-Provence, Bordeaux, Brest, Brussels, Geneva, Karlsruhe, Langen, Maastricht, Marseilles, Paris, Reims, and Zurich have participated in developing these flexible procedures.
The airspace of the six FABEC States of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland is one of the busiest and most complex in the world. The majority of major European airports, major civil airways and military training areas are located in this area. FABEC airspace covers 1.7 million km² and handles about 5.8 million flights per year – 55 per cent of European air traffic.