Industrial Research & Validation for Aviation Green Deal


Target Orgs:Companies
Category:Digitalisation, Green Transition

European Commission

Total budget:
Due date:13.10.2022 Single-stage
Grant min-max:
Own contribution:%
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  • Environment. The introduction of automation and dynamicity will enable AUs to fly trajectories that are closer to optimal, resulting in fuel efficiencies and thus overall emission reductions. Innovative approaches such as wake energy retrieval (WER) will bring additional CO2 reductions. The proposed concept will open the door to a better understanding of the climate impact of non-CO2 emissions, especially vis-a vis the trade-off with CO2. It will also make it possible to mitigate part of the non-CO2 impact by effectively tackling contrail formation. The concepts addressing the airport environment will enable improvements to local air quality and help to reduce the noise impact on communities neighbouring airports.
  • Capacity. A high level of automation will make it possible to introduce the proposed concepts without a negative impact on capacity; furthermore, the WER concept will make it possible for aircraft to be closer together in the cruise phase of flight, potentially increasing airspace capacity.
  • Safety. The development of adequate system support for the new concepts, based on a high level of automation and their validation in an operational environment, will guarantee that safety levels are either maintained or increased.


To achieve the expected outcomes, all or some of the following should be addressed.

  • Eco-friendly trajectories. When specific conditions are met – typically traffic conditions – an area can be declared eco-friendly by ATC. Eco-friendly operations are implemented with the aim of minimising the flight environmental footprint. Such implementation relies typically on improved collaboration between pilot and controller and/or between controllers in the planning and execution of the flight. Increased flexibility in the management of the flight makes it possible to optimise the flight profile to improve environmental performance. The targeted flexibility may include free lateral or vertical route deviation (without the need to require a new route clearance) for flight optimisation purposes, so that aircraft can, for example, be cleared to cruise at any fixed geometric altitude between two flight levels (thereby avoiding the climb and descent required to maintain a fixed barometric flight level), or freedom to deviate horizontally within a certain area, allowing more effective use of favourable winds. It is expected that eco-friendly operations will initially be implemented in areas or periods of low traffic (e.g. oceanic/remote areas, at high altitude, at night) and later be expanded to areas and periods of higher traffic (R&I need: new ways of flying).
  • Wake Energy Retrieval (WER) in continental en-route airspace. WER is an ADS-B-in application that allows aircraft to reduce fuel-burn by flying closely behind another aircraft, thus taking advantage of some of the residual lift of the leader. From an ATM point of view, the challenge is to identify WER candidate pairs and manage the rendezvous. In low-density airspace, continental airspace and/or oceanic/remote airspace, previous R&D has shown the feasibility of strategically planning the rendezvous (before departure) and then executing it by adjusting take-off times and speeds, and this concept is ready for demonstration. The industrial research activities in this topic will address the development and validation of a concept of operations for scaling up the WER concept to all en-route operational environments. This should include the dynamic WER concept, whereby ATC dynamically identifies WER candidate pairs among equipped aircraft that are already airborne, rather than before departure. The inclusion of WER equipage information in the flight plan will need to be addressed. Tools for monitoring network WER operations for performance assessment purposes are also in scope. For situations where a pre-departure planned rendezvous is feasible and efficient, NM and FMP tools and procedures for rendezvous planning are also in scope (R&I need: formation flight).
  • Development of a meteorological service to publish and dynamically update information on ECHO areas. This element builds on previous SESAR work on environmental change functions and is aimed at aggregating the environmental impact assessment into a single continuously updated ECHO area publishing service; it may also include the development of required technical enablers (measurement capabilities, aircraft sensors, satellites functions, etc.). ECHO areas are those areas of the airspace where there is a high degree of certainty that aircraft emissions would cause a disproportionately high environmental impact due to aviation-induced cloudiness with a warming effect (R&I need: non-CO2 impacts of aviation).
  • ECHO area avoidance in the planning and execution phase. This element is expected to use SESAR knowledge on avoidance of dynamic mobile areas (DMAs) (with the areas to be avoided in this case being ECHO areas rather than military training areas). The objective is to develop a concept of operations that encompasses both the planning phase (so that AUs can plan their flights to avoid entering published predicted ECHO areas) and the execution phase (during which controllers will have on-screen information on ECHO area evolution in real time and will deliver the necessary clearances to ensure that aircraft do not enter them). The concept addresses the NM flight plan validation and DCB processes, as well as the FMP and ATC aspects of the execution phase. The environmental benefits will be measured in real time and made available to AUs and the general public through the ANSP environmental dashboard (R&I need: non-CO2 impacts of aviation).
  • Improved vertical trajectories on climb and arrival through new avionics and novel air–ground synchronisation. This element builds on previous SESAR 2020 work on the development of permanent resume trajectory avionics and new air–ground data exchanges that enable flight crews visibility of the ATC plan for their flight, which they can use to better plan their descent profile. It also includes improvements to the connectivity between the electronic flight bag (EFB) and the FMS as an enabler (R&I need: environmentally optimised climb and descent operations).
  • Enhanced vertical clearances. This element is based on the uplink of vertical constraints via CPDLC in order to ensure separation with potentially conflicting aircraft. This concept will enable a drastic reduction in the number of level-offs during climb and descent. It is expected that the first benefits can be realised without new avionics developments, but, in order to fully realise the benefits, improvements to the on-board avionics (FMS and/or EFB) and procedures for the management of vertical constraints may be required (R&I need: environmentally optimised climb and descent operations).
  • Systemised airspace route structures with dynamic allocation of standard arrival routes (STARs). This element addresses procedures and system support to allocate aircraft in one of two or more almost parallel STARs before top of descent (TOD), so that aircraft have lateral separation and therefore the need for vertical constraints during the descent is reduced. The implementation of this concept in the European environment will require cross-border collaboration, and it is therefore essential that this aspect is covered. The concept may be combined with the intermediate AMAN gates concept, based on the introduction of one or more metering fixes before the final metering fix that AMAN builds a sequence for (R&I need: environmentally optimised climb and descent operations).
  • Introduction of dynamicity in the use of RNP route structures. This element will develop and validate a concept for RNP route structures (trombones, point merge or other) to be activated or deactivated depending, for example, on the time of day, for noise control purposes, or depending on demand, so that the use of more complex route structures is avoided during periods of low demand. The research needs to address the end-to-end concept, including cross-border aspects and the delivery of the appropriate STAR clearance to each aircraft via voice or CPDLC. Please note that this concept addresses only standard instrument departures (SIDs) and STARs above 3 000 ft (where noise may be a factor but local air quality is not) (R&I need: environmentally optimised climb and descent operations).
  • Improved airport environment through dynamic SID and noise abatement departure procedure (NADP) allocation. This element includes the definition of new NADP concepts and a combined SID and NADP allocation concept that will be based on the optimisation of environmental impact functions taking into account potential trade-offs between local capacity, local air quality, noise impacts in the area around the airport and impact on the climate at global level. It is anticipated that there will be an initial concept in which the SID scheme is established in advance (e.g. 4 hours in advance), based on the predictions made by meteorological services, and published so that AUs can take it into account in their flight plans. In the longer term, the allocation will be done on a case-by-case basis and more dynamically (up to just before the aircraft leaves the gate) (R&I need: non-CO2 impacts of aviation).
  • New avionics in support of improved speed and aircraft configuration management on arrival. This elements covers the development of avionics (EFB and/or FMS) in support of improved speed and aircraft configuration management (e.g. in relation to throttle and control surfaces, including in particular high-lift device and landing gear extension management). The research will cover operations on both the cockpit and the ATC side; it will assess impact on ATC TMA and approach procedures and if necessary develop new guidance, procedures, phraseology and/or support tools for TMA controllers) (R&I need: advanced RNP green approaches)
  • Green ATC capacity concept. This research will investigate the concept of green ATC capacity, whereby, when the ATC capacity of a sector/airport is calibrated, in addition to the maximum capacity (including sustain and peak concepts), a (lower) maximum green capacity is used to represent the maximum sector load or arrival capacity for which ATC can facilitate environmentally optimised trajectories. Specific metrics could be investigated in addition to the usual metrics used in DCB and ATC. Green ATC capacity is expected to support improved ANSP decision-making in the area of sector configuration in real time (with a link to dynamic airspace configurations) and also in the area of strategic capacity planning, including impact assessments on building new runways (R&I need: new ways of flying).
  • Local (airport/TMA), ATSU-level and network-wide digital environmental performance dashboards. Building on previous environmental performance monitoring initiatives such as existing airport local air quality and noise monitoring programmes and the existing European continuous climb and descent operations monitoring dashboard, this validation exercise will accelerate the deployment of environmental performance monitoring dashboards across Europe. The aim is not only to provide visibility of environmental metrics but also to support their progressive integration into the decision-making process at strategic, pre-tactical and tactical levels, including the consideration of trade-offs with other performance indicators. The first pre-tactical and tactical integration applications are envisaged in the area of total airport management, and concern runway and taxiway use. The validation is expected to incorporate existing metrics and expand the environmental impact assessment toolbox by developing novel metrics to provide a more complete picture of the impact of aviation on the environment than is possible today. New metrics of interest include, for example, metrics for non-CO2 impacts and metrics to capture the inefficiencies caused by early descent (time from TOD to landing, difference between actual and EPP TOD, etc.), and aggregated horizontal and vertical efficiency metrics (3Di indicators, trajectory-based indicators, etc.). Special attention should be paid to ensuring that environmental performance dashboards make visible trade-offs between different environmental impacts (fuel, noise, local air quality, climate change), and also between environmental impacts and other performance indicators (capacity). The information from the environmental dashboards that is relevant to the public will be made publicly available to all European citizens (R&I need: accelerating decarbonisation through operational and business incentivisation).
  • Advanced calibration of airport capacity. The ATFM declared capacity of an airport is the maximum number of aircraft that can be allocated a pre-departure target time for arrival in a given time slot. It takes into account runway throughput and the uncertainty of traffic demand data: the higher the uncertainty, the higher the buffer in the declared capacity needs must be in order to ensure that there will be no holes in the sequence due to under-delivery. This element will develop a solution aimed at leveraging the reduced traffic uncertainty brought about by SESAR ATFM developments by reducing the declared capacity buffer without effectively reducing real capacity or traffic movements. Thanks to the reduced buffer, aircraft will experience shorter arrival sequencing and metering area delays, which will result in environmental benefits (R&I need: new ways of flying).
  • Engine-off absorption of AMAN/STAM/vSTAM departure delay. These demonstrators will integrate green taxi concepts with the synchronisation of the engine start-up and target time for take-off in the case of ground delay at short notice due to AMAN/STAM/vSTAM. They will address medium and large airport environments, and in particular the challenges posed when the departure airport is a large CDM airport with a complex departure sequence implementation process and when arrival traffic loads are high; it is in precisely in these challenging conditions that the potential benefits for the environment are greatest (R&I need: new ways of flying).

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