Three Research Projects to Help ICAO Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions - By : Ruxandra Botez,

Three Research Projects to Help ICAO Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Ruxandra Botez
Ruxandra Botez Author profile
Ruxandra Mihaela Botez is a Full Professor in the Systems Engineering Department at ÉTS. She specializes in modeling, simulation and control of aircraft, helicopters and autonomous flight systems and their experimental validation.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions


The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)—responsible for 1.3% of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—reached an agreement with its 191 member states to put in place an ambitious short, medium and long term GHG emission reduction plan. Researchers from the ÉTS Research Laboratory in Active Controls, Avionics and Aeroservoelasticity (Larcase), directed by Professor Ruxandra Botez, are focusing on three innovative projects that can help ICAO achieve its GHG reduction targets: flight path optimization, aircraft modeling and simulation, and morphing wing design for improved aerodynamic performance.

Keywords: flight path, optimization, aircraft, modeling, simulation, morphing, wing, GHG, ICAO


The first article on this topic, entitled “ICAO’s Efforts to Reduce GHG Emissions” presented the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets set by ICAO. The present article describes the projects carried out by researchers from the Laboratory for Research in Active Control, Avionics, and Aeroservoelasticity of Montreal’s École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), to help ICAO reach the targets set in 2009. Researchers from the laboratory, directed by Professor Ruxandra Botez, are focusing in particular on three projects:

  1. Flight path optimization
  2. Aircraft modelling and simulation
  3. Morphing wing design for improved aerodynamic performance

These three projects are being carried out in collaboration with partners from aircraft companies and aeronautical research centres. The results from the development of original methods are validated with those obtained experimentally via flight or wind tunnel tests.

Optimization measures from the Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC)

In a report presented to ICAO in 2009, GIACC identified a set of measures to address greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation [1, page 15]. The flight path optimization project, carried out by Dr. Botez and her team of researchers, is part of optional measure 4.3.2 namely, improving air traffic management and infrastructure usage [1, page 15]. The GIACC considers that this type of measure represents potential relative gains ranging from low to medium. The aircraft modelling and simulation project and the morphing wing project are part of measure 4.3.1 pertaining to aircraft technologies and showing, according to the GIACC, significant gains in fuel efficiency and emission reduction [1, page 15].

A. Flight Path Optimization

The optimization of flight paths related to air traffic control procedures, is a research project aimed at reducing aircraft emissions in the atmosphere, fuel consumption and flight times. It also helps aircraft manufacturers meet the required time of arrival (RTA).


Comparing actual flight path and optimal flight path (horizontal profile)

This research project, launched in 2009, involves multiple subprojects carried out by ÉTS researchers in collaboration with CMC Electronics-Esterline within the framework of the Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN). The optimization algorithms developed in the research should be implemented on flight management systems [2 – 4].

The Cessna Citation X business jet

B. Modelling and Aerodynamic Simulation

Modelling aircraft prototypes is important: it helps reduce the number of flight tests and, consequently, the cost of fuel and flight time for aircraft certification. The research is carried out on the Cessna Citation X business aircraft simulator, designed and manufactured by CAE.

Cessna Citation X business aircraft simulator

The flight test data on the simulator are level-D certified by organizations such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States. Level D is the highest certification level for simulator data, which are very close to true aircraft flight data. Accordingly, the equipment accurately simulates an aircraft for data collection, as well as aircraft modelling and simulation research. This is a subproject of the Canada Research Chair for Aircraft Modelling and Simulation Technologies, a Chair also held by Professor Botez.

C. Morphing wing design for improved aerodynamic performance

The purpose of the morphing wing technology project is to improve aircraft wing performance while reducing fuel consumption. This includes several subprojects. Bombardier and Thales, as well as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Quebec Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace (CRIAQ) funded these subprojects. In a subproject that began in 2006, LARCASE laboratory researchers worked with the ÉTS Shape Memory Alloys and Intelligent Systems Laboratory (LAMSI) team to design and manufacture an aircraft wing equipped with smart actuators and pressure sensors. Improved aerodynamic performance and laminar flow for this wing was validated by wind tunnel testing at the IAR-NRC National Research Council Institute for Aerospace Research.

The ATR-42 aircraft

LARCASE researchers then worked on a morphing wing design for the ATR-42 aircraft. They validated its aerodynamic behaviour and its controller in the Price-Païdoussis wind tunnel, owned by Professor Botez’s lab at ÉTS.

The Price-Païdoussis subsonic wind tunnel

The wind tunnel experiment gave very good results [5 – 6]. Professor Botez and her team of researchers subsequently worked with Professor Simon Joncas and his ÉTS research team on a Bombardier aircraft wing. The wing came from one of their aircraft models as part of the company’s optimization process. The researchers had to consider several serious structural constraints in the basic model of the aircraft’s wing. This experimentation phase demonstrated the importance for further research to ensure that the structure adequately integrates the functionalities required for a morphing wing while improving the aircraft’s aerodynamic performances. The numerical results were validated with the experimental results obtained in the NRC wind tunnel. This subproject was carried out in collaboration with Alenia Aermacchi, the Italian Aerospace Research Centre (CIRA), and the University of Naples Federico II.

Morphing wing profile

Several ongoing research subprojects are being conducted to check and modify the wing components (actuators, sensors, etc.) and structural parts, as necessary. The unmanned aerial vehicle system (UAV) S45 Bálaam acquired from Hydra Technologies is added to the S4 Éhecatl UAV already owned by the LARCASE team. The ÉTS Price-Païdoussis wind tunnel and the NRC-IAR wind tunnel in Ottawa will be used to validate morphing wing modelling technologies on the UAVs.

Upcoming Research

Professor Botez and her team will continue their work in these three areas of research. Research work on flight path optimization started to produce tangible results for the CMC Electronics – Esterline flight management systems. The Cessna Citation X flight simulator and the two unmanned aerial vehicle systems will allow aircraft modelling and simulation work to continue. Work on the design and manufacture of the morphing wings will continue, using the two unmanned aerial vehicle systems UAS-S4 and UAS-S45.

If you are interested in these research projects from the LARCASE laboratory, please visit the website and do not hesitate to make an appointment with professor Botez to talk with the research staff.


Ruxandra Botez

Author's profile

Ruxandra Mihaela Botez is a Full Professor in the Systems Engineering Department at ÉTS. She specializes in modeling, simulation and control of aircraft, helicopters and autonomous flight systems and their experimental validation.

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  CIRODD- Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en opérationnalisation du développement durable 

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