Baltic FAB and FABEC organised a research workshop on the 22nd/23rd of September in Vilnius on the topic of "Climate change and the role of air traffic control”. The conference was held in partnership with the German Aviation Research Society (G.A.R.S.) and the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University.

Philip Butterworth-Hayes, ATM Communications Specialist, was in attendance and provided an update as to his learnings from the conference and thoughts on the way forward for the aviation industry at large.

The definition of green flying can morph depending on who you ask in the world of aviation. Philip’s view was “that it’s all about flying a route that causes the least damage to the environment”. This statement isn’t as simple as it sounds as you need to take into consideration many different aspects of a flight including noise, CO2 emissions and the presence of contrails. Just to name a few items to consider.

As ATM tools are evolve, we are still left behind when it comes to these topics. The tools to measure climate impact are still primitive and it’s a complex discussion around the priorities and trade-offs that are needed.

CO2 emissions get all of the focus when the topic of climate change is raised. In reality, they only account for 35% of the impact to the environment. This leaves 75% attributed to other topics that are not easily measured.

How do we move ahead? Better technology, such as the introduction of artificial intelligence tools to better analyse the overall situation. The amount of data is beyond what an air traffic controller could correlate and interpret on their own. Industry collaboration and political priorities will also be key. Trade-offs will have to made and the decisions as to what they are cannot be made in a silo, they must include all of the industry stakeholders.


This is the first in a series considering the topic of climate change from different viewpoints within the EU aviation community. Each week, for the next six weeks, there will be a new video available on Air International’s Sustainable Aviation channel with a short interview of different industry stakeholders. Please join us next week for a discussion with DFS.