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Air France makes first green transatlantic flight

7th April 2010 Print

The first transatlantic flight, optimized from start to finish for reduced noise and emissions levels, was operated yesterday.

The flight, which departed Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 11:15 and touched down in Miami at 14:45 local time is known as a “green flight” and was operated by Air France Boeing 747-400ER.

It was the outcome of cooperation between players involved in transatlantic flights, namely Aéroports de Paris, the French DGAC civil aviation authority, NATS, NAV Portugal, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), SESAR Joint Undertaking, and Air France.

During the 9 hour and 30-minute flight, procedures were activated to improve the aircraft’s energy efficiency. These optimized procedures, applied at each flight stage and coordinated among all project participants, reduced fuel consumption (and hence carbon dioxide emissions) throughout the flight, from taxiing at Paris-Charles de Gaulle to arrival on the parking stand in Miami.

The coordinated application of these procedures during the flight cut CO2 emissions by 6-9 metric tons and saved 2-3 metric tons of jetfuel.

Some of the procedures used included:

- Shorter taxiing times, coordinated with Aéroports de Paris at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and with the FAA at Miami airport;
- Continuous climb, coordinated with DSNA, the DGAC’s air traffic control authority;
- During the cruise phase, optimum altitude and speed were constantly selected to cut fuel consumption in conjunction with en route air traffic control centres in France (DSNA),  the UK (NATS), Portugal (NAV Portugal) and the US (FAA);
- Continuous descent, coordinated by US air traffic control (FAA).

During the departure and arrival phases, the procedures used also helped minimize noise levels by up to 7dB (a reduction of 3dB is the equivalent of halving noise levels). 

When these optimizations are applicable to all Air France long-haul flights to and from North America, CO2 emissions will be cut by 135,000 metric tons per year, with fuel savings of 43,000 metric tons. 

This very first transatlantic green flight, fully optimized from start to finish, was flown as part of the AIRE (Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions) programme, a joint initiative between the European Commission and the FAA and run by SESAR-JU at the European end.

In the framework of this initiative, airlines, air traffic management service providers, aircraft manufacturers and airports are all being encouraged to make the most of current technological advances in the fields of avionics and optimize their flight operations. The flights will be used to endorse technical solutions delivering lower CO2 emissions.