Potential to reduce the climate impact of aviation by climate restricted airspaces

M. Niklaß, B. Lührs, V. Grewe, K. Dahlmann, T. Luchkova, F. Linke, V. Gollnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Impacts of commercial aircraft operation upon the environment, which are caused primarily from emissions of CO2, NOx and the formation of contrails, are matter of growing concern, as aviation is one of the fastest developing industrial sectors worldwide and the awareness of its effects is expanding. Recent research has focused on the cost-benefit potential of different mitigation strategies, which optimize flight trajectories with respect to climate and economy, but most of these mitigation strategies cannot be implemented in the near future due to technical challenges.The objective of this paper is to present an interim mitigation strategy, which bridges this time period. In analogy to military exclusion zones, climate restricted airspaces (CRA) are defined based on 3-D climate change functions, characterizing the environmental impact caused by an aircraft emission at a certain location. Regions with climate costs greater than a threshold value are closed in the corresponding month; others are cleared for air traffic. To estimate the cost-benefit potential of this strategy, a preliminary analysis is conducted on the route from Helsinki (EFHK) to Miami (KMIA). Affected flight trajectories are re-routed optimally around resulting CRA with regard to monetary costs for varying threshold values. Therefore, flight simulation algorithms are developed, which solve a non-linear optimal control problem. For each optimized flight trajectory corresponding average temperature response (ATR) and cash operating costs (COC) are expressed relative to a reference great circle trajectory with constant Mach number and compared with the climate mitigation potential of climate optimized trajectories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-110
JournalTransport Policy
Volume83 (2019)
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2016


  • Air traffic regulation
  • Climate mitigation strategy
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Operations research
  • Optimal control
  • Systems design
  • Trajectory optimization

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