NATS is unique in measuring the three dimensional efficiency of the aircraft flying in its controlled airspace. It does this through the use of its 3Di metric where each flight is compared to a scale where zero represents total environmental efficiency, with most flights scoring between 15 and 35.
By providing smooth continuous descents and climbs, direct routes and optimum flight levels, air traffic controllers can help minimise aircraft fuel burn and carbon emissions and thereby earn a low 3Di score.
During 2013, NATS was able to achieve an overall rating of 23.7 against the target set by its regulator, the UK Civil Aviation Authority, of 24. This compares favourably with a score of 23.9 for the previous year.
However, NATS now faces a more challenging as the CAA has lowered the target for 2014 to just 23.
Ian Jopson, NATS Head of Environmental Affairs, commented: “We were able to make some significant improvements to our operational efficiency during 2013, but the lowering of the CAA’s target means we need to re-double our efforts this year.
“We have a target to enable a 4% reduction in air traffic management CO2 and fuel burn on average per aircraft by the end of 2014 and have around 30 additional fuel and emissions saving measures already being considered that will help us towards that goal.
“Nevertheless, meeting that target will still take significant effort, some innovative thinking and collaborative working with our customers.”
According to the CAA, achieving the 3Di target will generate 600,000 tonnes of CO2 savings compared to historic levels by the end of 2014, worth over £120 million to airlines in fuel savings.
Read the full commentary on NATS’ latest environmental performance.