In order to achieve the climate targets set out in, amongst others, the Paris Climate Agreement, new technological and operational as well as regulatory measures are urgently needed. The sustainable design of air traffic is a challenge towards which the DLR Eco2Fly project is intended to provide a significant contribution.
Under the leadership of the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics, various DLR institutes are working together to evaluate both tactical and strategic measures for reducing the climate impact of air traffic, thereby utilising new findings on climatic effects. These measures range from the assessment of the effects of contrails and aerosol-cloud interactions, through the use of new engines in order to reduce, in particular, soot and nitrogen oxide emissions, and on to the operational feasibility of eco-efficient flying.
Contributing towards a reduction in the climate impact of air traffic
For this purpose, the project team has set itself various goals: In addition to a re-evaluation of the climate impact of air traffic based on a better understanding of the underlying atmospheric processes, the aim is to demonstrate a reduction in climate impact through the use of new engines, particularly as regards soot and nitrogen oxide emissions. Furthermore, the effect of cooling condensation trails will be quantified and both tactical and strategic measures for reducing the climate impact of air traffic will be investigated. The introduction of such measures influences the entire air transport system. As a result, the analysis of the interactions of these eco-efficient trajectories, as well as the development of operational air traffic concepts which enable the implementation of these measures, also form part of the project and are a core task of the Institute of Flight Guidance.
Interactions of eco-efficient trajectories
In order to be able to analyse the interactions of ecologically optimised traffic management, comprehensive traffic scenarios are created and optimised in particularly sensitive areas with regard to ecological criteria. Of interest are the resulting effects on other areas of air traffic, both on air traffic participants and the control and monitoring of air traffic.
Operational air traffic concepts
The introduction of tactical measures entails a shift of trajectories to less climate-sensitive areas. As such a shift would affect a multitude of trajectories, it would influence the spatial distribution of the aircraft in the airspace and, consequently, the workload of the air traffic controllers. The introduction of dynamic, adapted sectorisation can help to distribute the workload of controllers more uniformly, even with changing traffic assignments. In order to be able to assess the potential of dynamic sectorisation, the Dynamic Airspace Sectorisation System (DASSy) developed at the Institute of Flight Guidance is being adapted to the requirements of eco-efficient traffic management.
Radar image with dynamic sector boundaries, in order to relieve pilots when necessary
For the further improvement and subsequent validation of the concept, the participating institutes define scenarios and boundary conditions and integrate DASSy into the Air Traffic Validation Center. On this basis, extensive “human-in-the-loop” experiments are then planned in which air traffic controllers test the developments in realistic scenarios and provide the participating researchers with feedback.
DLR – Institute of Atmospheric Physics (project leadership)
DLR – Institute of Flight Guidance
DLR – Institute of Propulsion Technology
DLR – Institute of Combustion Technology
DLR – Institute of Air Transport and Airport Research
DLR – Simulation and Software Technology
DLR – Flight Experiments
DLR – Systemhaus Technik