Smarter air traffic control could save 500 kg fuel per flight

August 6th, 2008 - 12:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Aug 6 (IANS) Tidy air traffic control could save 500 kg of fuel and reduce noise by 35 percent for a typical Boeing 747 flight between Sydney and Melbourne, according to a team of researchers. They have developed a unique air traffic simulator which produced these estimates. The system is now in trial with the support of Eurocontrol (European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation).

The system is expected to transform the management of airspace - saving fuel, reducing carbon emissions and reducing ground noise.

“Our system is the first in the world to integrate air traffic modelling with data and computations on aircraft noise and emissions,” said Sameer Alam who developed the system with colleagues at the University of New South Wales.

“It can simulate existing and advanced air traffic control procedures showing the resulting emission and noise patterns. In the future we expect that air traffic controllers would use the system to evaluate and modify flight paths to reduce noise and emissions.”

One approach, for instance, can lower fuel use and decrease emissions by flying aircraft on more direct paths at altitudes where the winds are most favourable, as opposed following a fixed route structure, Alam said.

Another can significantly reduce the noise impact of landing aircraft on residential areas by keeping aircraft at higher altitudes on their approach to the airport and reducing power during descent.

“Our next big challenge is to translate the innovative air traffic procedures which emerged from the simulation into a form that is acceptable for operations. Introducing such new concepts into an operational environment is challenging given the complexity and dynamics of any air traffic system,” Alam said.

He has earlier developed air traffic system solutions for Civil Aviation Affairs in Bahrain and the Royal Saudi Air Force.

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