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FABEC Environmental Day delivers four key messages

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FABEC is contributing substantially to reducing aviation’s environmental impact by providing infrastructure and procedures to enable airspace users fly more environmentally friendly routes.

More than 100 expert speakers and delegates participated in the first FABEC Environmental Day – either attending in-person at Geneva Airport Press Centre or remotely. Participants discussed the key achievements, expectations, roles and challenges facing air navigation services (ANSPs) in the environmental field and delivered four key messages to aviation industry stakeholders and regulators.

FABEC is committed to improving aviation’s environmental performance
All FABEC members have made clear their commitment to reduce the environmental footprint of aviation and to support the European Union’s Green Deal environmental objectives. FABEC is contributing substantially to reducing aviation’s environmental impact by providing infrastructure and procedures to enable airspace users fly more environmentally friendly routes.

Achievements must be built on – more data is required!
The scientific understanding of environmental impact is growing but it still lacks key data and metrics to drive further improvements in a systematic way. For example, horizontal flight efficiency has been optimized, but we also need to integrate the vertical dimension. The first steps in the development of improved environmental metrics have been taken, as well as the measurement of non-CO2 emissions, but they are not yet conclusive. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to do nothing whilst waiting for the perfect targets, so FABEC is working now to deliver improvements in those domains which offer most benefit.

Understanding trade-offs
We must optimize the current system as well as adapt it in response to new environmental, economic and market developments. There is a need to balance and prioritize different key performance areas, though safety will always remain our priority and core deliverable. There is a trade-off between traffic volume, capacity and environmental impact and we need to develop clear rules on how these trade-offs should be balanced – for example, should an ANSPs prioritize environmental protection over cost efficiency? We need to take a gate-to-gate perspective on environmental management, so we can clearly understand how to balance the priorities of reducing noise and emissions. These trade-offs need to be clearly explained to European, national and local administrations, politicians and communities.

Collaboration with partners
Industry-wide improvements can only be reached in collaboration with all partners within the aviation chain – and we do not yet have the basic metrics available to measure each stakeholder’s environmental footprint and the potential improvements available. Sustainable solutions will require close collaboration – for example in exploring new common processes and tools to improve flight planning, or more dynamic ways to use the airspace.

Further information (video, presentations etc.) can be found on fabec.eu. The airspace of the six FABEC States of Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland is one of the busiest and most complex in the world. The majority of major European airports, major civil airways and military training areas are located in this area. FABEC airspace covers 1.7 million km² and handled in 2019 over 55% of European air traffic. In 2020, FABEC won the ATM Environment Award for the second consecutive year.

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