Climate change and the role of air traffic control – turning new scientific evidence into policies, rules and operations

Mitigating the impact of climate change to meet Europe’s ambitious carbon-neutral target by 2050 requires coordinated measures across the aviation industry. This Inter-FAB research workshop brought together leading academics, air navigation service providers, policy-makers and climate specialists to examine the role played by air traffic control in delivering sustainable aviation services for European citizens. 

Air navigation service providers face difficult choices in managing air traffic expeditiously between Europe’s busy airport network in a sustainable way and balance issues of safety, cost, punctuality and environmental impact. Keeping aircraft in the air longer may reduce overall fuel burn if it means more optimal operations on the ground, with more frequent take-offs and landings at busy hubs. Unexpected events such as severe weather – increasing as a result of climate change – or industrial action leads to lengthy diversions around impacted airspace and cause increases in aviation’s environmental footprint. Analysing exactly how these measures affect emissions are helping to determine future priorities to ease decision-making at a political level.

The workshop sets out to identify and review opportunities for more sustainable operations. Factors including weather patterns, flight paths and altitude affect the formation of contrails and form part of wider data analysis of mitigation measures. Simply focusing on fossil-fuel emissions fails to recognise opportunities across several areas to reduce the environmental footprint of aviation. By developing a better understanding of aviation’s contribution to climate change, it is possible to develop appropriate airspace management measures and contribute to improved performance. Finding trade-offs between the different key performance areas, for example balancing the passenger view with the environmental impact, is the first step towards managing these conflicting dynamics.

Research Workshop
Climate change and the role of air traffic control
22-23 September 2021 in Vilnius/Lithuania

Baltic FAB and FABEC organised a research workshop "Climate change and the role of air traffic control” taking place on 22–23 September 2021 in Vilnius. The conference was held in partnership with the German Aviation Research Society (G.A.R.S.) and the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University.

Four panels and 12 presentations were held at the workshop which you can download here: