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NAV CANADA advances international and domestic efforts to reduce GHG emissions

10-Jan-2011 NAV CANADA, the country’s air navigation service provider (ANSP), has made further gains and has announced a new project in its efforts to reduce aviation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through safe and more efficient air traffic flows.

The gains include increased projected fuel and GHG emissions savings of $300 million and 700,000 metric tons compared to projections this time last year. The increased savings are outlined in the latest Company report entitled Collaborative Initiatives for Emissions Reductions (CIFER) Status Update 2011– a follow-up to last year’s CIFER Progress Report.

“Overall, we are on track for even greater savings of GHG emissions and fuel costs than initially foreseen in 2009,” said John Crichton, NAV CANADA President and CEO. “Estimated fuel costs savings and emissions reductions from 1996 – 2016 are projected to be $4.3 billion and 13.4 million metric tons of GHG emissions. (See Backgrounder).

The Company also announced today that it is leading a new international fuel and GHG savings project in partnership with NATS, its counterpart in the U.K., and Air France. The project is aimed at improving flight efficiency in the busy North Atlantic Oceanic airspace.

The ENGAGE Corridor Project is a collaborative initiative involving the European Community, the U.S. and Canada, aimed at improving the efficiency of the 350,000 flights per year that cross the North Atlantic. It is one of the many projects outlined in the updated CIFER Report.

The ENGAGE Corridor Project will assess trial flights for the feasibility and potential to reduce GHG emissions in North Atlantic Oceanic airspace. Based on actual airline flight data, the flight trial results will be compared to “normal” operations on similar trans-Atlantic flights. The flight trials begin in February and continue through the spring of 2011.

The trial flights will test the viability of two concepts on North Atlantic operations: progressive or continuous altitude change; and corresponding change in aircraft speed (Mach).

“We are very pleased to be partnering with Air France and NATS on this project,” said Crichton. “It builds upon the many improvements to oceanic air traffic management that NAV CANADA has implemented including Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology to reduce aircraft separation, thereby increasing airspace capacity.``

This additional capacity will create opportunities for some North Atlantic flights to vary Mach and altitude to potentially realize fuel savings and reductions in GHG emissions, he said.

As a flight transits the ocean, fuel is consumed and the weight of the aircraft decreases, resulting in the most efficient flight level becoming higher (assuming zero wind). Therefore, an efficient flight profile would include a progressive or continuous altitude change and corresponding change in Mach.

Assessments show that oceanic flights can save approximately 250 litres of fuel and 650 kilograms of GHG emissions per flight by varying Mach and altitude.

“More than 350,000 flights per year transit the North Atlantic airspace,” said Rudy Kellar, NAV CANADA Vice President, Operations. “If only three per cent are able to vary Mach and altitude in a way that improves flight efficiency, that would result in an annual reduction of approximately 7,200 metric tons of GHG emissions and a savings of 2.7 million litres of fuel”

“The initiatives such as the ones outlined in CIFER and the ENGAGE project are cooperative efforts with our customers and industry partners. These real savings are a testament to the innovative work of the NAV CANADA employees,” said Kellar.

The ENGAGE Corridor Project is being undertaken as part of the SESAR Joint Undertaking Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) Program. The SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) was created under European Community law in 2007 to ensure the modernization of the European air traffic management system.

AIRE is a program managed by SJU in cooperation with the FAA that aims to accelerate the implementation of environmentally-friendly procedures for all phases of flight, and to validate the benefits of these improvements.