Birmingham Airport cuts through CO2 with smarter flying

02 September 2010

An operational technique introduced at Birmingham Airport last year to reduce noise, emissions and aircraft fuel consumption has saved over 13,000 tonnes of CO2 in the last 12 months – enough to fill Wembley Stadium one and a half times.

The technique, called Continuous Descent Approach (CDA), allows aircraft to descend on minimum power, making a smooth approach without levelling off, rather than using a classical stepped approach.

After just one year of launching the scheme, 95% of aircraft arriving into Birmingham Airport now use CDAs, making a saving per flight of around 315kg of CO2, 100kg of fuel, and reducing the noise around the airport by between one and five decibels per arrival.

The use of CDAs at Birmingham is as a result of a partnership between the Airport Company, NATS (the airport’s Air Traffic Control provider), and airlines operating at the Airport.  The technique significantly reduces fuel costs for airlines, creates a quieter environment for Airport neighbours and reduces aircraft emissions.

Ben Hanley, the Airport’s Environment Manager said, “We’re always seeking new opportunities to improve the noise climate for local residents and in 2006 we introduced the Operation Pathfinder scheme to create better communication channels and joined up thinking with our airlines and NATS.

“This partnership approach resulted in the launch of the CDA programme, and has led to improvements to our ‘on-track’ performance, which saw 99% of all our departures in 2009 keeping within the designated flight paths. We’re really seeing the results of collaborative working and we thank our partners for their commitment to improve the local climate.”

Paul Waite, Operations and Training Manager for NATS, said, “Although CDAs are being used at a number of other UK airports, Birmingham is one of the most successful airports using the scheme, and I am proud to say that our team of controllers are exceeding targets every month. It is evident that NATS, Birmingham Airport and the airlines are fully committed to tackling local aviation environmental issues.”

Birmingham Airport’s work on CDAs forms part of the national “Sustainable Aviation” initiative.  Sustainable Aviation was set up by the aviation industry, as a commitment to work together to improve environmental performance, with challenging targets to reduce noise and emissions.

Through Sustainable Aviation, Birmingham Airport recently committed to implement measures to reduce ground based carbon emissions.  Birmingham Airport is already leading the way by working with airlines through the Operation Pathfinder programme, to reduce emissions whilst aircraft are taxiing and operating on stand.

Birmingham Airport recently launched a Google Earth tool on its website to allow people looking to relocate near to the airport to find out about its flight paths, noise insulation scheme, air quality monitoring and other environmental programmes.

For more information about Birmingham Airport and the environmental programmes it offers, please visit

Notes to Editors


  • Birmingham Airport is a public/private partnership. The current shareholders include the seven West Midlands district councils (49%), Airport Group Investments Ltd. (AGIL), a limited company owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Teachers’) and Australia’s Victorian Funds Management Corp. (VFMC)(48.25%) and the Employee Share Trust (2.75%).
  • Birmingham Airport is the UK’s second largest airport outside London and the UK’s sixth largest overall. In 2009 9,109,189 passengers used the Airport.
  • Birmingham currently serves 143 direct scheduled & charter routes and offers an additional 279 possible connections worldwide. This gives passengers a choice of 422 direct or one-stop flights.
  • Find out more about Birmingham Airport at or on Twitter at bhx_official
  • Media enquiries should be made by contacting the Airport’s External Relations department on 0121 767 7374/8024/7074 or by emailing


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