Sustainable Aviation launches Continuous Descent Operations Campaign

Sustainable Aviation (SA), the voluntary coalition of industry partners, of which AOA is a leading member, has launched a Continuous Descent Operations (CDO) campaign in an effort to achieve a 5% increase in CDOs across the UK.

CDO is an aircraft descent technique that reduces noise, fuel burn and emissions. NATS, as a founder member of SA, is leading on the project, which will see the air navigation services provider (ANSP) join with other SA members – airlines, airports and aerospace manufacturers – in a large scale simultaneous effort to jointly deliver a step change in CDO performance.

This means that for the first time, CDO from higher altitudes will be monitored, considering aircraft descent profiles from cruise to ground to save fuel and reduce CO2 emissions. Previously in the UK, only Continuous Descent Approaches have been looked at, focussing on reducing noise when aircraft are descending below 6,000ft.

The campaign is a great example of cross-industry collaboration and should result in tangible benefits for all involved. Achieving a 5% increase in CDOs across the UK will deliver over 30,000 individual quieter arrivals and save around 10,000 tonnes of CO2, which will also save on fuel costs.

The UK aviation industry is known for its already high achievement of CDA at major airports but this campaign should increase consistency throughout the country as well as improve descent profiles from higher altitudes.

Jonathon Counsell, Chair, Sustainable Aviation Council, said: “UK Government, the industry regulator (CAA) and local community groups have called for the aviation industry to do more in the short term to demonstrate action to reduce noise impacts. Continuous Descent Operations (CDO) has been identified by Sustainable Aviation as a key opportunity to mitigate noise, and therefore we are championing this CDO action plan UK-wide.”

Carrie Harris, Head of ATM Environment, NATS, said: “Achieving the 5% target will require close collaboration and joint effort between pilots, air traffic controllers and airport operators. Significant improvements in CDO have already been accomplished over time, particularly at the four major London Airports and we’ve also seen great success on smaller scale trials such as with easyJet at Bristol, so it is doable. The key is to drive the campaign simultaneously across NATS, airlines and in every UK airport and sustain momentum so continuous progress across the country can be achieved.”

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