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Reducing CO2 from aircraft on the ground

Responsible Heathrow case study

Demand for air travel is increasing - driven by globalisation and the rise of emerging economies. As the UK's only hub airport, we believe that the growth of aviation and avoiding climate change impacts aren't mutually exclusive and can both be achieved through technological advances, low carbon fuels and more efficient operations.

We understand that working together with industry partners is the only way we can achieve this, and as part of our climate change management strategy, we work collaboratively with partners to influence the reduction of emissions from aircraft during take-off and landing.

In 2010, Heathrow became one of 15 airports across the UK - which together represent 70% of the country's passenger traffic - to join a major initiative to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from aircraft on the ground.

The Aircraft on the Ground CO2 Reduction Programme, launched by the Airport Operators Association (AoA), aimed to reduce emissions from aircraft as they taxi around the airport, and from power used to provide stationary planes with electricity and cool air.

Heathrow led the development of the programme working with partners from Sustainable Aviation, the UK initiative that brings together main players from UK airlines, airports, manufacturers and Air Traffic Management providers.

The programme provides practical guidance to help airlines, air navigation service providers, ground handling companies and airport operators cut CO2 emissions from aircraft movements on the ground and resulted in some impressive savings;

  • An estimated 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year was saved at Heathrow compared to doing nothing from reduced engine taxiing as well as use of fixed electrical ground power and pre-conditioned air
  • Approximately 20% efficiency savings per movement for ground based aircraft activity today, with potential to go higher in the future
  • That translates to around 6 million tonnes CO2 annually on a global basis (estimated by IATA).

The programme also helped promote improved understanding of managing emissions on the ground, leadership and sharing best practices on CO2 and NOx emissions, as well as noise impacts.

Heathrow’s Sustainable Mobility Zone in partnership with Guardian Sustainable Business