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How to Optimize Aircraft Flight Path to Reduce their CO2 Emissions! - By : Yolène Berrou, Roberto S. Félix Patrón, Ruxandra Botez,

How to Optimize Aircraft Flight Path to Reduce their CO2 Emissions!


Yolène Berrou
Yolène Berrou Author profile
Yolène Berrou has done her research internship at the Laboratory in Active Controls, Avioncs and Aeroservoelasticity (LARCASE). Her research project was on flight paths optimization to reduce the consumption of aircraft fuel.

Roberto S. Félix Patrón
Roberto S. Félix Patrón Author profile
Roberto S. Félix Patrón completed his Ph.D. at ÉTS. He is specialized in the development of flight path optimization algorithms to reduce fuel consumption of commercial aircraft.

Ruxandra Botez
Ruxandra Botez Author profile
Ruxandra Mihaela Botez is a professor in the Systems Engineering Department at ÉTS. She specializes in modelling and simulation for aircraft, helicopters, aerial systems and morphing wings.

SUMMARY

The aviation industry is committed to significantly reduce its CO2 emissions. LARCASE laboratory researchers at ÉTS designed an algorithm to optimize the flight path of planes and thus contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions from aircraft in service.

The United Nations held a climate summit in New York on September 23, 2014, under the auspices of the ICAO, various governments, and the aviation industry represented by ATAG. They united to take concrete, voluntary actions toward their common goal of improving air transport energy efficiency and consolidating CO2 emission targets by 2020. Governments, under the auspices of ICAO, and aviation industry, represented through ATAG :

“are jointly taking proactive and concrete actions to achieve common goals to further improve air transport fuel efficiency and stabilize the sector’s net CO2 emissions from 2020. Additional work under ICAO will be undertaken to explore the sector’s long-term global goal, recognizing the aviation industry’s existing goal to halve net CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels” [1].

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To attain these goals, ICAO and ATAG will explore multiple factors to reach these targets, as discussed below

  1. New, more efficient, aircraft technology and sustainable alternative fuels;
  2. Operational improvements to reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft already in service;
  3. Better use of infrastructure, particularly air traffic management;
  4. Designing an effective, global, market-based measure for international aviation.

logo CMC Larcase GARDN

Many research programs done at the laboratory in Active Control, Avionics and aeroservoelasticity (LARCASE) of ÉTS, are aligned on these goals. This research project was funded under the Green Aviation Research & Development Network (GARDN) in Canada. Research are conducted in collaboration with CMC Electronics-Esterline company.

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Research Project

This study focuses on OACI’s and ATAG’s target 2. For this target, there are vast areas of research that seek a decrease in consumption, but many of these studies aim to improve cruise speed: 80% of CO2 emissions in aviation are generated by long flights (over 1500 kilometres – 810 nautical miles), because in these flights the cruise phase consumes the most fuel. To reduce fuel consumption, an optimisation algorithm for a 3D flight trajectory has been created to improve the current flight management system for numerous airplanes. Other optimisation algorithms for trajectories have also been developed at LARCASE [2]-[19].

Algorithm conceived

The algorithm described in this study is separated into three principal parts respectively, calculating the optimal trajectories for takeoff, cruise, and descent. The optimal trajectory is the one with the lowest total cost including fuel consumption, flight time, and “Cost Index”. This is the number the airline companies uses to calculate costs for operating flights. The optimal trajectory is calculated depending on wind factors (direction and speed) and temperatures; this was provided by Environment Canada.

The algorithm also calculates the optimal speeds and altitudes throughout the entire course of the flight. At takeoff, it calculates the optimal speeds, the “Crossover” altitude (the plane’s altitude at the point when it passes from an IAS speed (Indicated Air Speed) to a Mach speed, and the starting cruise altitude, which is the altitude needed for take-off (figure 1).

Figure 1 : Takeoff calculation. Source [Img1]

Figure 1 : Takeoff calculation. Source [Img1]

With the aim of optimising horizontal trajectories for long-haul flights, a grid has been created for analysing the various possible trajectories, from “Top of Climb” (TOC) to “Top of Descent” (TOD). Two parallel trajectories are added to either side of the base trajectory (geodesic, or other trajectory entered manually), intersected by various waypoints.

Figure 2 shows a three-dimensional view of a trajectory. The blue points are points along the path of flight, the figures represent the number of each route (horizontal line), and the red trajectory is the optimal trajectory calculated by the algorithm depending on the wind, the purpose of the optimisation being to avoid head winds and to take advantage of tail winds. The calculation of this trajectory is done with the aid of a genetic algorithm, making it possible to generate a true optimal trajectory that takes a short time to compute.

Figure 2 : Cruise Calculation (horizontal profile). Source [Img1]

Figure 2 : Cruise Calculation (horizontal profile). Source [Img1]

After the optimal horizontal trajectory is calculated, the possibilities of executing “step climbs” at each point of the flight path are analysed; this represents the possibilities of increasing the altitude by 1000 or 2000 feet.

Figure 3 : Calcul de la croisière (profil vertical). Source [Img1]

Figure 3: Cruise Calculation (vertical profil). Source [Img1]

Then the optimal descent is calculated in the same way as the takeoff (figure 4).

Figure 4: Descent calculation. Source [Img1]

Figure 4: Descent calculation. Source [Img1]

Results

Figures 5 and  6 shows an optimal trajectory compared to the real trajectory of a flight between Lisbon and Toronto, using the factors taken from that flight on FlightAware website.

Figure 5 : Comparaison entre la trajectoire réelle et la trajectoire optimale (profil horizontal). Source [Img1]

Figure 5: Comparison between real trajectory and réelle optimal trajectory (horizontal profile). Source [Img1]

Figure 6 : comparaison entre la trajectoire réelle et la trajectoire optimale (profil vertical). Source [Img1]

Figure 6: Comparison between real trajectory and optimal trajectory (vertical profile). Source [Img1]

For this trajectory, the algorithm optimises a total cost of 6.86% compared to that of the real trajectory. This high percentage is due principally to better choice of speeds for the flight, better planning of “step climbs”, and a more effective calculation of the horizontal trajectory.

Research article

logo espace300To get more information on this subject, we invite you to consult the following research article available at Espace ÉTS (from ÉTS library) ÉTS:

Roberto S. Félix Patrón, Yolène Berrou et Ruxandra M. Botez. « New Methods Of Optimization Of The Flight Profiles For Performance Database-Modeled Aircraft ». Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part G: Journal of Aerospace Engineering, December 2, 2014. DOI: 10.1177/0954410014561772.

Collaborations and research financing

This research project was realized at the laboratory in Active Control, Avionics and aeroservoelasticity (LARCASE) of ÉTS, and was financed as part of the Excellence Networks Center Program managed by the Green Aviation Research & Development Network (GARDN), in collaboration with CMC Electronics-Esterline company to encourage the development of green aviation technology in Canada.

If anyone would like to collaborate on this research, or on any other research project at the laboratory of Applied Research LARCASE, please visit the website and do not hesitate to make an appointment with professor Botez to talk with the research staff.

Yolène Berrou

Author's profile

Yolène Berrou has done her research internship at the Laboratory in Active Controls, Avioncs and Aeroservoelasticity (LARCASE). Her research project was on flight paths optimization to reduce the consumption of aircraft fuel.

Program : Aerospace Engineering 

Research chair : Canada Research Chair for Aircraft Modeling and Simulation Technologies 

Research laboratories : LARCASE – Aeronautical Research Laboratory in Active Control, Avionics and Aeroservoelasticity 

Author profile

Roberto S. Félix Patrón

Author's profile

Roberto S. Félix Patrón completed his Ph.D. at ÉTS. He is specialized in the development of flight path optimization algorithms to reduce fuel consumption of commercial aircraft.

Program : Aerospace Engineering  Automated Manufacturing Engineering 

Research laboratories : LARCASE – Aeronautical Research Laboratory in Active Control, Avionics and Aeroservoelasticity 

Author profile

Ruxandra Botez

Author's profile

Ruxandra Mihaela Botez is a professor in the Systems Engineering Department at ÉTS. She specializes in modelling and simulation for aircraft, helicopters, aerial systems and morphing wings.

Program : Aerospace Engineering  Automated Manufacturing Engineering 

Research chair : Canada Research Chair for Aircraft Modeling and Simulation Technologies 

Research laboratories : LARCASE – Aeronautical Research Laboratory in Active Control, Avionics and Aeroservoelasticity 

Author profile


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