Operational improvements to reduce the climate impact of aviation - A comparative study from EU project ClimOP

Thumbnail Image




Zengerling, Zarah Lea
Linke, Florian
Gollnick, Volker
Peter, Patrick
Matthes, Sigrun
Baspinar, Baris
Noorafza, Mahdi

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

Research Projects

Organizational Units

Journal Issue


Aviation significantly contributes to anthropogenic radiative forcing with both CO2 and non-CO2 emissions. In contrast to technical advancements to mitigate the climate impact, operational measures can benefit from short implementation times and thus are expected to be of high relevance in the near future. This study evaluates the climate mitigation potential of nine operational improvements, covering both in-flight and ground operations. For this purpose, an innovative approach is presented to compare the results of measure-specific case studies, despite the wide differences in the underlying modeling assumptions and boundary conditions. To this end, a selection of KPIs is identified to estimate the impact of the studied operational improvements on both climate and the stakeholders of the air transport system. This article presents a comparative method to scale the results of the individual studies to a comparable reference, considering differences in traffic sample size as well as CO2 climate effects. A quantitative comparison is performed for operational improvements belonging to the same category, i.e., trajectory-related, network-related, and ground-related measures, and a qualitative comparison is carried out among all considered operational improvements. Results show that the in-flight operational improvements are more effective in mitigating the impact on climate with respect to ground operations. However, the latter generally have a weaker impact on the aviation industry and a higher maturity level. Further research could expand this study by assessing the effects of implementation enablers, such as actions at the regulatory level, to facilitate the acceptance of the studied measures in the aviation industry.



air traffic operations, non-CO2 effects, CO2 equivalents, stakeholder impact, on-ground measures, in-flight measures


Applied Sciences 13 (16): 9083 (2023-08-09)