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  • On the Right Track: Altering flight routes could make air travel less harmful

On the Right Track: Altering flight routes could make air travel less harmful

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By Philippine News Agency

Airlines around the globe might be able to significantly reduce the adverse impact on the environment of air travel by simply changing their flight paths, according to a study by an international research team.

OpenFlights: Airport and airline data | credit openflight.org | Manila Bulletin

OpenFlights: Airport and airline data | credit openflight.org | Manila Bulletin

The study, published on Thursday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found that by implementing insignificant changes to certain flight routes, airlines could reduce their carriers’ adverse impact on the climate by as much as 10%. Remarkably, operating costs would only increase by 1% as a result.

Scientists long ago concluded that carbon emissions at high altitudes do much more damage to the environment than equivalent emissions released on the ground.

A team of scientists from the University of Reading in the UK, the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Germany and other institutions came up with the solution by evaluating 85 alternative routes for 400 flights crossing the Atlantic Ocean daily and calculating their emissions.

“Climate-friendly routing of aircraft has an exciting potential to decrease the climate impact of aviation without the need for costly redesign of aircraft, their engines and airports,” said Keith Shine, professor of meteorology and climate science at the University of Reading and one of the study’s lead authors.

“With more targeted research, it could become a reality in the next 10 years,” he said.

However, the researchers admitted that despite the promising perspectives, the smart routing strategy was “not mature enough to be directly implemented,” as there remain such issues as the need for greater scientific certainty in their estimations and cost increases, even though they were found to be low.

Passenger and cargo airplanes are major contributors to carbon emissions around the world, with an average Boeing 747 burning about 36,000 gallons over the course of a 10-hour flight.

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