05 Mar 2021, 13:51
Sören Amelang

Individualised flight routes can minimise planes' climate impact - German space agency

Clean Energy Wire

Customized flight routes for individual planes could significantly lower the aviation sector's climate impact, according to the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). "Today's airspace structures and air traffic management (ATM) systems are primarily optimised for safety and capacity. With the right automation, this can be expanded to include climate-friendly targets, such as minimising carbon dioxide emissions and reducing condensation trail formation," said the DLR, which is conducting a four-year project to advance flight guidance automation. "This will enable flight planners to offer customised, climate-optimised routes for every aircraft in the sky, avoiding areas in the atmosphere where long-lasting condensation trails might form, for example," the researchers said, adding that non-CO2 effects, such as contrail cirrus, are responsible for around two-thirds of aviation's climate impact.

Individually climate-optimised flight trajectories require free capacity in airspace, which could become available if today's highly complex air transport sector was to become more automated, the DLR said. This climate customisation will also require incorporating additional weather data. "Forecasting the weather one to five days ahead will improve advance flight planning. Short-term forecasting will also be incorporated into the final flight preparations. The flights themselves will be aided by weather observations and short-term forecasts," the DLR said.

 Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
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