Eurocontrol eyes route charges to help stem aviation’s impact

Air traffic management’s ‘benefit pool’ is finite and will eventually run dry as efficiency improvements are delivered and will likely struggle to maintain any efficiency gains as traffic grows, according to a new report on decarbonising aviation.

The report published by the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation – Eurocontrol – said ATM’s long-term contribution to decarbonising aviation will therefore increasingly turn to ensuring the safe introduction of new types of highly efficient aircraft into increasingly congested airspace and airports, ‘so that neither a drop of aviation fuel, nor a kilowatt-hour of electrical energy, is wasted’.

“In parallel, ATM may have a further role to play in reducing the ‘non-CO2 impacts’ of aviation, for which the scientific community is gathering evidence,” states the report. “However, in Europe, the ‘route charges’ system, through which aircraft operators pay for air traffic control related services, could be used to incentivise ‘cleaner, greener’ flights.”

“This is perhaps an underappreciated tool that ATM could use to support decarbonisation of our industry,” according to the report authors.

The report comes on the eve of a September 12 high level conference of the European aviation community where it will discuss accelerated measures to deliver the goals of the Single European Sky. Long term measures that have been proposed feature an increased role of the Eurocontrol Network Manager to make sure all air navigation services providers ‘act in the common European interest’.