Last week, Latvian airline airBaltic successfully completed a green demonstration flight for its Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft as part of the AMBER (Arrival Modernization for Better Efficiency in Riga) project.
Capt. Pauls Calitis, Vice President Flight Operations of airBaltic: “As head of the AMBER project, I am especially proud of this accomplishment that brings us closer to Europe’s first green flights for turboprop aircraft. Almost two years have passed since the AMBER idea was born and with today’s 1st flight using advanced navigation techniques, we have achieved a notable milestone in Latvian and European aviation. In the coming months, as part of the AMBER project, airBaltic will start to fly these special arrivals in our daily traffic program. We will be the first to demonstrate the efficiency and environmental benefits of satellite-guided approaches for turboprops. A special thank-you to the many people in airBaltic and our partners at Latvia’s Air Navigation Service Provider LGS and Civil Aviation Agency that contributed to this significant aviation achievement.”
The flight was the first ever satellite guided (RNP) approach in Latvia by one of airBaltic’s Bombardier Q400s. The approach was completed during a special demonstration/test flight organized as part of the AMBER project, which aims to prove the efficiency and greenness of modern satellite navigation based approaches in Riga. The specially trained crew conducted approaches from all of the five new AMBER trajectories and post flight they reported that everything worked well and as expected, with the new AMBER arrival trajectories being nice and pleasant to fly.
Earlier this year, airBaltic, together with its consortium partners Airbus ProSky (an Airbus company specializing in Air Traffic Management solutions) and Latvia’s Air Navigation Service Provider, Latvijas Gaisa Satiksme (LGS) launched a new project under the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) to operate Europe’s first green flights for turboprop aircraft. The AMBER project will establish new arrival procedures for Riga Airport that will shorten the distances flown, improve flight trajectories to avoid residential areas and reduce people’s exposure to noise, as well as cut fuel consumption and emissions. The new trajectories will be up to 30 nautical miles shorter towards runway than what is being flown today, and will enable reducing CO2 emissions by up to 300 kg on every Q400 flight.
“The new green procedures that will be established and validated with the Bombardier Q400 Next Gen turboprops will eventually be available to any carrier flying to Riga with the relevant aircraft equipment. The procedures will also be suitable for our brand new BombardierCSeries jets, which we will introduce into service in 2015, and will provide further benefits for operations out of Riga, on top of their unmatched fuel efficiency”, states Capt. Pauls Calitis, Vice President Flight Operations of airBaltic.
Initial design and simulator testing phase in the AMBER project was carried out in the first half of 2013. Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers have been specifically trained on realistic simulators for the new procedures. A target of 100 flight trials will be carried out over 2013, and the CO2 savings will be analysed and published as a baseline for green turboprop operations.
The AMBER project is implemented by airBaltic in partnership with Airbus ProSky and LGS, and sponsored by SESAR, the air traffic management research programme of the Singe European Sky. With this project, SESAR will be able to demonstrate that the entire commercial aviation community, including regional aircraft, can change and reduce its impact on the environment.
airBaltic serves 60 destinations from its home base in Riga, Latvia. airBaltic offers convenient connections via North Hub Riga to its network spanning Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, CIS and the Middle East.
An illustrative video of the AMBER project is available here:
airBaltic in brief:
AIR BALTIC CORPORATION (airBaltic) is a joint stock company that was established in 1995. The primary shareholder is Latvian state with 99.8% of stock. The airBaltic fleet consists of 24 aircraft – five Boeing 737-500, eight Boeing 737-300 and eleven Bombardier Q400Next Gen. For summer 2013, airBaltic will temporarily operate B757-200 aircraft on high-demand routes. airBaltic offers nonstop flights from three Baltic capital cities – Riga, Vilnius, and Tallinn. airBaltic received the title of Airline of the Year 2009/2010 (Gold Award) from the European Regions Airline Association. airBaltic is the winner of Air Transport World Phoenix Award 2010 – a global recognition of excellence in restructuring business. airBaltic won a special Pacesetter Award 2010 from the Jury of the Budgies World Low Cost Airline Awards, recognising achievements of airBaltic as a hybrid airline. In 2012, airBaltic was ranked by Airlinetrends among the Top 10 airlines globally for innovations.
DETAILED INFORMATION: SESAR-sponsored “AMBER” Project
The AMBER project is one the SESAR-sponsored projects introducing innovative initiatives to demonstrate the sustainability of the aviation industry, and achieving environmental benefits with improved and tailored ATM procedures.
The main objective of the AMBER (Arrival Modernization for Better Efficiency in Riga) project is to introduce PBN arrival procedures at Riga International Airport, to reduce CO2 emissions and noise levels at the airport and close vicinity, especially in the touristic Jurmala area located on the coastline of Latvia, north west of the airport. This project will be achieved by demonstrating green flights using the Bombardier Q400, a first in Europe with a regional aircraft flying PBN procedures. The main routes flown by airBaltic’s Q400 fleet (such as Vilnius-Riga or Warsaw-Riga) will be used as a benchmark for comparison of the CO2 emissions. Introducing PBN for Riga arrivals will enable to avoid flying over the touristic Jurmala area and, instead of flying a long radar vectored path over the Baltic Sea, will go directly to the runway by using the flexibility of a Radius-to-Fix (RF) leg and fully-guided procedures flown using the aircraft’s autopilot, thus reducing the flight crew’s workload in the approach phase of flight.
The new trajectory will be up to 30NM shorter than what is being flown today. The PBN approaches will also allow for Continuous Descent Operations (CDO) from the cruise to the final approach, thus further optimizing the efficiency of the operation compared to today’s procedures. These procedures will also be designed to be used by common jetliners such as Airbus and Boeing aircraft to ensure that, in the long run, any operator flying to Riga with the required aircraft equipment, will be able to benefit from these enhanced arrivals. The procedures will also be suitable for the brand new Bombardier C-Series aircraft that Air Baltic will operate from 2015.
The AMBER project’s Kick-Off Meeting was held on October 4, 2012 in Riga with all the stakeholders present. Having on board the Air Navigation Service Provider, the Airline, the ATC, the Aviation Regulator and the airport authority is the best approach to really deliver performance improvement to the Air traffic Management.
Performance-Based approach is a key element to support the decongestion of the busy terminal areas and increase the Air Traffic Management fuel efficiency in Europe.
Initial design and simulator testing phase has been carried out in the first half of 2013. Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers have been specifically trained on realistic simulators for the new procedures. A target of 100 flight trials will be carried out over 2013, and the CO2 savings will be analysed and published as a baseline for PBN & CDO implementation for turboprop operations.