Airport departures code to cut environmental impact

A coalition of UK aviation interests has published proposals that will cut aircraft emissions by reducing fuel burn at airports, which will also improve noise and local air quality.

The interim Departures Code of Practice notes that shutting down one engine during taxi-in operations can deliver reductions of 20 to 40 per cent of the ground-level fuel burn and CO2 emissions, and 10 to 30 per cent of ground-emitted oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions, depending on aircraft type and operator technique. The technique would deliver significant improvements to local air quality at airports and reduce fuel burn as well as cutting airline costs.

The voluntary code has been drawn up by a group representing airlines, airports, air traffic control, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and ADS, the UK's aerospace, defence and security trade body representing aircraft manufacturers. They are expected to issue a final version of the code early next year, which will also include advice on the use of airport terminal and ground power rather than running the aircraft's auxiliary power unit, as well as issues such as Continuous Climb Departures and Collaborative Decision Making to deliver yet more improvements.

ADS chairman Ian Godden said: "Aviation has made great strides in reducing the environmental impacts of an aircraft. However, alongside technological advancements to aircraft design, better procedures can also deliver significant environmental improvements. This Code of Practice will deliver some of these additional benefits, especially to people living and working around airports, through simple, safe changes in procedures."

Jill Brady, chair of Sustainable Aviation and director of corporate responsibility at Virgin Atlantic, added: "The aviation industry is committed to reducing its environmental impact, not just globally but also locally. Improving local air quality and reducing CO2 emissions are key aims for the Sustainable Aviation coalition, which is why we welcome this Code of Practice.

"When safe and operationally feasible to do so, operators are encouraged to implement this technique of taxiing with fewer than all engines running as their standard operating procedure, because it provides real local environmental benefits and fuel burn reductions."

The interim code is a technical document that is primarily written for pilots, flight planners and airport operators. It recommends that aircraft operators review their Standard Operating Procedures in order to help promote taxiing-in from the runway to the airport terminal with an engine shut down, so long as all safety and procedural concerns can be met. The document also recommends that manufacturers are involved in the development of engine-out taxi procedures.

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