SATAVIA partners with Etihad Airways for contrail-free aviation goal
SATAVIA’s newly formed partnership with Etihad Airways for flight planning optimisation will help eliminate the creation of aircraft-generated clouds that account for up to 60 per cent of aviation’s total climate impact.
SATAVIA’s DECISIONX capability enables eco-conscious operators to prevent condensation trails (contrails), which cause a net climate warming effect almost double that of direct engine emissions.
Contrails generate climate impact by trapping heat in the atmosphere, directing a proportion back down towards the surface. Contrail formation and lifetime depend on constantly changing atmospheric parameters such as temperature, pressure, and humidity.
Not every flight generates contrails: recent research suggests that 80 per cent of contrail climate impact is generated by around two per cent of flights.
The crucial task is to identify in advance which flights may require flight plan adjustment. Consequently, contrail forecasting and navigational avoidance requires highly accurate atmospheric analysis, now made possible by SATAVIA’s DECISIONX platform.
“DECISIONX digitises the atmosphere from surface to space,” said SATAVIA CEO and founder Dr Adam Durant, “generating uniquely actionable intelligence for a suite of aerospace applications. Our unique capacity to forecast contrail risk on a flight-by-flight basis means we can now work towards optimising Etihad flight planning for greener aviation.”
The world-first collaboration – a formal Letter of Intent to form a partnership – was struck at the recent 2021 Dubai Air Show. It builds on the recent success of the Etihad-operated EY20 sustainable flight on October 23 from Heathrow to Abu Dhabi, which brought together a suite of innovations – including SATAVIA’s technology – to significantly reduce overall climate impact. Successful navigational avoidance also requires the active involvement of air navigation service providers (ANSPs), as demonstrated by the EY20 flight.
“EY20 was a genuine step forward not just for Etihad’s net zero objectives, but for commercially sustainable green aviation more widely,” said Mohammad Al Bulooki, COO at Etihad Aviation Group. “We demonstrated the possibility of incorporating contrail prevention alongside a range of pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight activities, cutting our climate impact while maintaining day-to-day commercial activity.
“New fuels, engines and airframes are likely to take years or decades to develop, but contrail prevention can be undertaken at considerably shorter timescales. The airline is investing time, effort and resources into exploring opportunities today, understanding their limitations and constraints, and working to overcome them. That has been the purpose of the Greenliner programme. What Etihad and SATAVIA achieved on EY20 was impressive; the challenge now will be exploring how this could be achieved dynamically across all our flights where the potential for the creation of harmful contrails is present.”
“We also plan to quantify climate benefit for trading as carbon equivalent offset credits – a market worth at least $9bn globally, at a conservative estimate,” adds Dr Durant. “Contrail prevention is a fairly straightforward digital technology solution with incredible potential to move the sector towards net zero on relatively short timescales.”