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NATS to trial ‘perfect’ transatlantic flights

NATS, the UK provider of air traffic services and solutions, has signed a contract to lead a pioneering project trialling environmentally ‘perfect’ transatlantic flights.

The project, entitled TOPFLIGHT, will look to put into operational practice something that has only previously been possible in single, one-off flights. Phase one will see 60 transatlantic flights where many factors within the journey – from pushback from the stand and taxiing to an optimised flight profile and continuous descent approach – has been adjusted to achieve minimal emissions and delay. It is expected that each optimised trip will save approximately 500kg in fuel – the equivalent to 1.6 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The British Airways flights will take place between Heathrow and a number of North American airports over the course of four months. The second phase of the project will then look to introduce multiple ‘perfect’ flights crossing the Atlantic simultaneously. The aim is to prove that the concept is scalable and can be implemented for many flights at the same time without penalising those in the surrounding airspace.
TOPFLIGHT is a SESAR project, the technical and operational component of the European Community’s Single European Sky initiative which aims to modernise and harmonise air traffic management systems across Europe.

Martin Rolfe, NATS’ Managing Director, Operations, said, “The TOPFLIGHT project is a great example of the aviation industry working together and we are delighted to be leading it. The industry has an opportunity to improve its environmental performance and the efficiency and fuel savings make great business sense too. It should be a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
It is hoped the project will have a sustainable and lasting impact.