We are not just focusing on aircraft emissions. Most environmental concerns around air travel focus on the role of aircraft, but associated infrastructure, including airports and flight paths, also have an impact on the environment, and improvements are being made.
Airports and ground facilities
Ground facilities and airports are also taking responsibility to become more energy efficient in a number of ways.
- Airports are investing in offsetting schemes to become carbon neutral, most notably the ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, and building 'green-certified' terminals.
- They are reducing on-airport vehicle emissions by introducing automatic metro lines, or switching to vehicles with alternative fuels and low-emission technology.
- They are providing electricity to aircraft at terminal gates using fixed electrical ground power rather than the aircraft's auxiliary power unit.
- Many airports have also installed solar and other alternative energy supplies for terminal buildings.
There is a significant impact on emissions from congestion at airports. When flights have to hold and circle before they land, or queue on taxiways before taking off, it is inconvenient to passengers and also adds to fuel use. These inefficiencies are continually assessed to determine whether operating restrictions on flights or new facilities like runways are needed.
One way that the industry is working to reduce congestion and delay (and therefore fuel use) is collaborative decision making (A-CDM), with all parties working together to make sure that flights don’t start their engines until there is a confirmed take-off time and a slot at the destination airport.