Overall, NATS has enabled reductions of 1.1 million tonnes of ATM-related CO2emissions per annum, as a result of combined annual savings since 2008, adding up to a total of £111m in airline fuel savings.
These improvements are the result of changes to UK airspace that allow for more direct routes and improved vertical profiles, the use of more efficient procedures such as continuous instead of stepped climbs and descents, and the introduction of new air traffic control technologies.
In conjunction with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in 2012 NATS introduced three dimensional inefficiency (3Di) methodology for measuring airspace efficiency to help assess day-to-day progress towards more efficient and environmentally friendly use of the skies in the face of ever-increasing levels of air traffic. In 2015, an average score of 30.1 3Di was achieved, well within the service performance range set by the CAA as regulator, and only slightly behind the target level of 29.7.
NATS’ Responsible Business report reveals additional headlines and highlights from 2015, including more environmentally-friendly airport approaches, improved procedural efficiencies and initiatives undertaken during the year to work with communities across the UK on a variety of educational and charitable projects – NATS’ employees were involved in a wide range of events in 2015, from helping to stage an airshow to collecting more than £170,000 for charity.
During the period of the report, NATS control teams enabled 31,639 additional continuous descent approaches for 22 airlines at 15 UK airports, helping pilots to make smoother, quieter descents in conjunction with Sustainable Aviation. This technique, endorsed by The Prince of Wales’ Business in the Community network as part of its annual award scheme, also saves fuel and cuts CO2emissions.
Ian Jopson, Head of Environmental and Community Affairs at NATS, said: “Our work with our airline and airport customers continues be successful in shrinking aircraft CO2 emissions and, whenever possible, reducing aircraft noise.
“Air traffic is returning to volumes seen before the financial crisis of 2008, so our achievement of continuing to make CO2 emission savings should be viewed in the context of busier skies as more and more flights take place.
“An important part of managing the impact of increasing air traffic is undertaking meaningful engagement with airport communities on their experience of our operation and with this in mind we have recently appointed a new community relations manager to ensure open dialogue with everyone concerned, taking the big picture into account.
“Large-scale airspace change will help to deliver significantly cleaner, quieter air traffic operations and this report will form much of that ongoing conversation.”
Publication of this year’s Responsible Business report also marks the strides NATS has made to reduce its corporate impact on the environment by using renewable energy and implementing a series of green initiatives such electric car-charging, solar panels and a cycle-to-work scheme.