AAI is all set to implement policies and invest in technological innovation that will help in sustainable development and promote responsible activities to safeguard the environment.
Every year since 1974, the United Nations celebrates the World Environment Day to encourage awareness amongst everyone so that each and everyone can take some crusading action to protect the environment. Celebrated over 100 countries, the World Environment Day is considered “people’s day” for taking care of the mother earth, be it local, national or global.
Drawing attention to pressing environmental concerns, every year an event is celebrated around a theme. The theme for the year 2019 focuses upon one of the most critical conundra in today’s world, “Air Pollution”.
FIGHTING GLOBAL WARMING
The aviation industry has been continuously mulling over its carbon emissions that exceed far more than any other mode of transport. As per European Environment Agency, CO2 emission levels for road transportation stands at 158 gms per km, rail at 14 gms per km, while aviation sector emits maximum 285 grams of CO2 per km.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) estimates that air transport is responsible for 2 per cent of the global CO2 emissions. Adding to the fact that aircraft also emit particles such as nitrogen oxides, this number goes up to five per cent of the total global warming. The global aviation industry has committed to improving fuel efficacy by 1.5 per cent per year from 2009 to 2020 and is stabilising its CO2 emissions in preparation for a 50 per cent reduction by 2050 compared to 2005.
The trade association of the world’s airlines, International Air Transport Association (IATA) has forecasted that India and China alone will account for around 45 per cent of all additional passenger trips over the next two decades. With this huge surge in passenger footfall, it is expected of Indian aviation to chart the future roads striking a perfect balance between rapid infrastructural development and environmental management.
Contributing its part, the Airports Authority of India (AAI), being the sole Air Navigation Service (ANS) provider and operator of airports across the country, is consistently honouring the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by staying true to its commitment towards the reduction of GHGs (Green House Gases). AAI has instituted its Environment Policy reflecting the senior management’s commitment to fulfil environment obligation. The environment policy of AAI is directed towards the reduction in airport GHG emissions by implementing cost-effective carbon mitigation measures, creating green corridors and infrastructure and other environment management thereby proactively attending to the global need of safeguarding environment.
ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVES IN AIR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT (ATM)
Implementation of Performance-Based Navigation
In order to reduce fuel burn, AAI has implemented Performance-Based Navigation (PBN), which includes continuous climb and descent operations. It allows aircraft to follow a flexible yet safe and optimum flight path delivering both environmental and economic benefits. Such measures are needed to improve the operational efficiency of aircraft operations as they reduce fuel burn, leading to a reduction in GHG emission.
Implementation of Departure Slot Management
Departure Slot Management results in improvement of on-time performance of airlines reducing departure congestion and queuing of aircraft. Quick departure, efficient climb profile, availability of preferred flight levels contribute towards a reduction in fuel burn and GHG emission.
Implementation of Central Air Traffic Flow Management (C-ATFM)
C-ATFM helps manage air traffic flows (six hours in advance) strategically in the Indian sky ensuring reduction in delays and holding, optimisation of capacity due to air traffic congestion. Implementation of C-ATFM by AAI accrues benefits in terms of reduced carbon footprint embarking on green environment concept fuel saving.
Controlling Noise Pollution
Committed to reducing the number of people exposed to noise due to aircraft movements, AAI is setting up noise monitoring stations at three of its major airports – Chennai International Airport, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata – to measure and monitor noise level at all airports.
Airport Collaborative Decision Making (ACDM)
ACDM involves all stakeholders to achieve optimum utilisation of airports, airspace and aircraft at Indian airports. It helps save 14.9 million kg fuel per annum, 47 million kg reductions in carbon emission and helps reduce 1,241,000 minutes of taxi-time.
Flexible Use of Airspace
Airspace of the nation is a finite asset. Flexible Use of Airspace permits civil flight through military airspace when not being utilised by the military, promoting the share of airspace. It results in dynamic flight planning, reduced fuel consumption and operating cost along with a consequent reduction in carbon footprint.
CREATING GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE
A major thrust of AAI has been to create world-class and sustainable infrastructure development for the needs of the passengers. The yesteryears have witnessed effective regional connectivity growing in tier-2 cities. This kind of development does leave some considerable impact on the environment, so green initiatives like Green Building infrastructure, self-sustenance in energy use and almost zero waste disposal show AAI’s commitment towards sustainable development.
AAI’s environmentally sustainable terminal buildings are designed and constructed as per the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) mandate. The key focus here is to adopt more green options in the selection of materials, procedures and equipment in projects as well as in operations and maintenance of the projects.
Curtailing of the wastage of potable water, processing of wastewater and reusing the treated water are the major steps taken by AAI. The Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) and rainwater harvesting are being provided by AAI along with an initiative on Stormwater management.
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT
The plan is to promote avoiding solid waste generation and, where possible, extract value from the remaining waste with the ultimate goal of sending zero waste to landfills. AAI has taken up an initiative to set up a comprehensive Solid Waste Management System in accordance with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and directives under Environment Protection Act, 1986 at six airports namely Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata; Coimbatore International Airport; Trivandrum International Airport; Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Varanasi; Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad, in the first phase. The second phase will witness a solid waste management system getting established at 28 AAI airports where annual passenger traffic is one million and more.
SOLAR POWER PROJECTS
Withstanding the purpose of mitigating GHG emissions, rooftop/ground mounted Solar PV power plants have been successfully installed by AAI to generate Green Energy at 39 of its airports. The total installed capacity of solar generation, as on date is 36MW and is committed for 68.70MW by 2020-21.
USE OF ENERGY EFFICIENT PRODUCTS
Emphasis has been made on the use of energy-efficient chillers, motors and Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) to reduce the energy consumption at airports without compromising the comfort level. LED light fittings are to be used in all the future projects as well as replacement of existing conventional type light fittings by energy efficient light fittings.
CONTINUOUS ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY MONITORING
Another significant initiative is to develop green corridors along the national highways leading to airports. The initiative has also been taken to commission integrated online environmental monitoring stations at some of the airports to check the quality at regular intervals.
A POSITIVE CHANGE
The rising passenger traffic needs an infrastructure that provides the best possible service to the flyers. However, it needs to be balanced against the impact air travel is having on the global environment. Noise and air pollution – both from aircraft and from airport ground operations poses as a major problem. The global aviation industry is currently working hard to increase the usage of fuel alternatives, those based on biomass have the potential to reduce aviation carbon emissions by up to 80 per cent. AAI has already taken the brave step of testing a biofuel-run aircraft. Private carrier SpiceJet flew a Bombardier Q-400 turboprop aircraft on biofuel from Dehradun to New Delhi last year in August.
AAI is upbeat to invest in technology and innovation that will considerably change the future of energy consumption. The organisation is committed to engaging in responsible activities that will limit, as well as reduce their social, ethical and environmental adverse impacts on society and the community.