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First optimized transatlantic flight (aka “green flight”) delivers reduced noise and emissions


The very first transatlantic flight optimized from start to finish to 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.

Here are some of the procedures used:

* 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.


The French Civil Aviation Authority (French: La direction générale de l’aviation civile - DGAC) reports to the French Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Maritime affairs. It handles all aspects of civil aviation such as sustainable development, security, safety, air traffic control, economic regulation, general aviation and aeronautical training. Its role is to prepare and implement the French government’s strategy in aviation as far as economic and technical aspects are concerned.

Aéroports de Paris (Paris Airports Authority)

Aéroports de Paris builds, equips and operates airport hubs such as Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly and Paris-Le Bourget. In 2009 Aéroports de Paris handled 83 million passengers, ranking it second in Europe for passenger traffic and in top position for freight and postal services.

Thanks to its exceptional location and substantial catchment area, the Group is pursuing a strategy to develop its handling capacities, improve the quality of services and develop commercial and real estate offerings. In 2009 the Group’s turnover reached 2.633 million euros for a net profit of 270 million euros.

SESAR Joint Undertaking

The aim of the SESAR Joint Undertaking is to ensure the modernisation of the European air traffic management system by coordinating and concentrating all relevant research and development efforts in the Community. Partnership, sustainability and user-drive are key concepts of the SESAR Joint Undertaking approach. Founded by the European Commission and by Eurocontrol, fifteen companies are members of the SJU: AENA, Airbus, Alenia Aeronautica, the DFS, the DSNA, ENAV, Frequentis, Honeywell, INDRA, NATMIG, NATS (En Route) Limited, NORACON, SEAC, SELEX Sistemi Integrati and Thalés.

NAV Portugal

NAV Portugal is a company that supplies air traffic services in Portuguese continental territory and a vast area of the north Atlantic. It has two control centres (Lisbon and Santa Maria– Azores), 10 control towers in national airports, a training centre and numerous systems and equipment to support air navigation.

It currently has a staff of 968 highly-trained workers who ensure the safety of passengers and aircrafts 24 hours a day.


The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Vice President and Transport Minister of the European Commission (EC) initiated the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) Partnership at the 2007 Paris Air Show. AIRE includes a growing membership of governments, airlines, and industry partners. Working together, the Partnership intends to hasten development and implementation of environmentally friendly, new technologies and operational procedures.

NATS (National Air Traffic Services)

NATS handled 2.2 million flights in 2009, covering the UK and eastern North Atlantic and carried more than 200 million passengers safely through some of the busiest and most complex airspace in the world. NATS provides air traffic control from its centres at Swanwick, Hampshire and Prestwick, Ayrshire. NATS also provides air traffic control services at 15 of the nation’s major airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow, together with air traffic services at Gibraltar Airport.

Air France

Methodically applying a responsible, pragmatic approach, Air France is committed to pursuing its efforts and to focusing its resources on further reducing the environmental impact of its business activities. To achieve its objectives, Air France:

* invests in state-of-the-art aircraft. With an average age of eight years, the Air France long-haul fleet is one of the youngest in the world;
* has organised a network around its hubs to minimize the number of aircraft needed;
* systematically tracks down unnecessary fuel consumption to minimize greenhouse gas emissions;
* works with a series of partners to contribute to the fight against climate change.


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