An Intelligent Approach towards Jet Zero
Spurred on by last year’s COP26 gathering, sustainability strategies and goals have been increasing in number. Transport faces one of the toughest challenges to mitigate its carbon output, and aviation in particular will need to make bold transformations to become environmentally friendly by the 2050 deadline.
In response to the challenge, the UK aviation sector has set the deadline of becoming net zero by 2050, and within that agreed on the first set of targets to achieve this. This aligns with the Government’s ‘Jet Zero’ strategy, which was published in July.
To achieve this goal requires the whole of industry to work together if we are going to be able to deliver a sustainable aviation sector which is so critical to the UK economy.
As a leading information technology, engineering and science solutions and services leader, who work in aerospace across defence and civil markets, we can see that improvements required include smarter flight operations, new aircraft and engine technology, and the use of sustainable aviation fuels and modernising UK airspace and tools.
Leidos is at the forefront of delivering technology that can help to realise these improvements, and our further commitment is demonstrated through our ambitious target of achieving net zero emissions by 2040.
One of the ways in which we are taking forward new technology is in collaboration with, NATS, the UK’s leading Air Navigation Service Provider.
One such innovation is Intelligent Approach (IA) technology. IA tools help produce more efficient, AI-operated, take-off and landings at airports. The technology does this by dynamically calculating the optimum time interval between arrivals based on real-time weather data and the aircraft type rather than relying on set distances.
The tool then translates the calculation into a graphical marker on a controller’s radar screen, helping improve spacing between planes and maintaining landing rates even in strong and changing headwinds. It is already deployed at Heathrow and Toronto Pearson airports and will soon go live at Amsterdam Schiphol.
And at Heathrow, IA is delivering significant environmental benefits by increasing runway capacity due to a more efficient take-off and landing. That, in turn, is producing two major positives; a better passenger experience but, crucially, a reduction in the time planes spend on the tarmac idling and emitting fumes.
IA, working together with the cross-border arrival technology XMAN, is already delivering nearly 32,000 tonnes of CO2 savings per annum at this one airport!
Further developments to the system are already in progress to optimise the separations between arriving aircraft using something called Pairwise. This is expected to enable another 10-15,000 tonnes of CO2 savings per annum. And on top of this, the IA system is being further enhanced to deliver similar levels of benefits for single runway operations.
Emissions savings can also be expected if Intelligent Approach is introduced at other airports in the UK and worldwide.
Innovations such as these will be critical to delivering the ‘Jet Zero’ ambition for the UK.
Simon Fovargue, Chief Executive at Leidos UK, said: “Whether it’s ensuring that army kit reaches UK forces on time or producing new innovative solutions to pressing IT challenges, Leidos is working at the forefront of improving logistical processes in industry to the benefit of consumer, customer, and the environment. Our work with NATS is just one prime example of this, showcasing how through the power of information technology – coupled with an innovative streak and capable people – we can deliver tangible benefits to the sectors we serve.”
Brendan Kelly, Head of Queue and Capacity Management at NATS said: “Intelligent Approach is a key enabler for the modernisation of UK lower airspace. Tools such as Intelligent Approach are more valuable than ever on our path to achieving net zero, reducing delay and aviation’s impact on the environment while maintaining a safe and efficient operation.”