Environmental Concerns and Aviation: After COVID-19, Now Climate Takes Centre Stage

By Jean Luc Devisscher
12th May, 2021

In our blogs, we have discussed CORSIA and of course, the many environmental programs that have been set up around the globe to regulate different transportation segments. We have also witnessed a recent 360° change with the US government after President Biden took office and pledged that the US would take a lead role when it comes to the environment. This has boosted the focus on CO2 emissions with new requirements and also the investments needed to implement them.

Even though aviation is not the frontrunner when it comes to CO2 emissions, the industry is not immune to the required change. That has been made very obvious by United Airlines that dropped a bomb in the airline industry through its pledge to become 100% green by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 100% by 2050. In the meantime, airports have been adopting ACI’s carbon accreditation by agreeing to become carbon-neutral and be audited on how their airport operations have achieved carbon neutrality. We also have the UN CORSIA targets to which most countries have subscribed.

EMMA’s A-CDM platform is offered in a SaaS model. This means that airports can adopt the solution and pay per movement, which considers the currently low movement levels and makes the implementation of A-CDM extremely affordable.

The realization of these pledges needs much more work by airplane manufacturers as a majority of CO2 emissions are related to the airplanes flying on fossil fuels; hence, alternatives are being sought going beyond biofuels as these have been heavily contested as the solution. Like with so many things, the solution will most likely reside in multiple solutions gradually leading to the carbon neutrality of airplanes.

Besides these different programs, there are many more things that airports and their stakeholders can do, one of these being the way airport operations are set up, taking into consideration all environmental aspects and these not only cover air pollution but also noise control. That evolution has become quite clear (especially over the last year) where the environmental manager at the airport joins all operational meetings. His or her interest is quite clear: (s)he needs to oversee how we can reduce the emissions caused by unnecessary movements on the airfield, a bigger shift to cargo or general aviation, last minute changes to the schedules by airlines or a change by ATC of routes that planes need to take. The environmental manager also needs to show figures that need to be kept stable when it comes to air and noise pollution. This is becoming important for the surrounding communities that may have gotten used to the silence that came with the decrease in airplane movements during COVID-19. Showing that noise levels are stable and not going beyond agreed levels with the surrounding communities has become a key aspect of his/her role.

With A-CDM becoming a key requirement for international airports in the years to come, now is the best time for airports and their stakeholders to (re)define their core processes and make sure these are reflected in the A-CDM platform. This allows for the right elements to be shown in the dashboard and optimal decisions to be made by the team in charge so that airports enjoy the full impact the solution brings to all stakeholders, including passengers. Passengers can benefit from less time lost in the entire turnaround process and spend more time doing fun things at the airport rather than getting frustrated by yet another delay. In times where many passengers are still worried or hesitant to fly, guaranteeing on-time arrival and departure is a significant benefit that all airport players – in addition to the passenger - can truly benefit from.

Better managing airport operations, having a clear view on traffic day-by-day but also for the coming days based on historical analysis and putting scenarios in place with all stakeholders in the case of unforeseen incidents is what constitutes good management. This means airports need a true collaborative decision-making approach and the right platform to manage it in real time.

At EMMA, we have integrated environmental parameters into our dashboard. We collect data from all sensors or other data sources on and around the airport (and beyond). These data points are integrated into our collaborative decision-making platform and give all stakeholders a clear view on where an airport stands with regard to the environmental parameters, when it passes certain thresholds and what could be causing these changes.

Better collaboration at airports through A-CDM is not only important to guarantee smoother airport operations but also to make sure that we stick to the committed environmental targets. The effect of A-CDM on airport operations has been made clear by the annual reports published by the airports that have implemented A-CDM. A-CDM has now become one of the many elements that help airports become more sustainable. Integrating environmental parameters in the same platform creates an extra dimension to how we manage airport operations and also allows airports to view (in real time) where we stand with air, noise and other forms of pollution. One dashboard for all airport operations is a reality and adding new data sources or services we need to follow up on can be done as fast as in two weeks. IT and airport operations is not about complexity; it is about creating simplicity (and thus flexibility) and allowing the airport to make any changes itself without depending upon any provider.

Welcome to airport operations management 3.0.

Want to understand how EMMA can create true benefits for your airport operations using a fast, affordable and open system? Contact us here.