Optimised transatlantic flight trial begins

Jun. 19, 2013

A trial of environmentally optimised transatlantic flights has begun as part of the SESAR TOPFLIGHT project being led by air traffic service provider, NATS.
Every element of each trial flight, from push-back time, to climb and descent profile and routing, has been designed to test the SESAR concept, minimise fuel burn and maximising efficiency.

As such that each flight could save up to half a tonne of fuel – the equivalent to 1.6 tonnes of CO2.

The trial includes up to 60 British Airways (BA) flights over the course of the summer. The first took place at the end of May between Heathrow and Canada following six weeks of cockpit simulation work.

TOPFLIGHT will test elements of the future SESAR concept in the current operational environment and provides an opportunity for project partners to review and feedback on the feasibility, benefits and scalability of the SESAR concept more widely, as well as saving potentially large amounts of fuel and CO2.

NATS Project Manager Joe Baker said: “One-off trials, such as the NATS Perfect Flight project in 2010, have already proven the level of benefit that can be achieved in isolation, but these wider trials are an exciting opportunity to look at how we might implement these ideas for multiple flights in a real life operational environment.

“TOPFLIGHT will therefore develop and assess procedures that assist NATS controllers in providing a service that further minimises the environmental impact of aviation.”

TOPFLIGHT consortium consists of  NATS, BA, Canadian air traffic service NAVCANADA, Airbus ProSky, Boeing and Barco Orthogon. It is also being supported by the Irish Aviation Authority.

The initial TOPFLIGHT results will be known in the autumn, with further trials planned for the winter to focus on reducing holding at London Heathrow via the use of a cross border Arrival Manager, or XMAN.