There are several environmental issues in ATM. Aircraft noise and aircraft emissions are the issues that have the greatest impact on efficiency and safety.

The normal order of priority in air traffic control is: safety, efficiency and “finally” environmental issues. More often this order is changed in favour of the environment, although the highest priority is still given to safety. The aviation industry continues to grow and the focus on environmental issues has increased worldwide as well. Despite this, safety is still the overriding consideration in all aviation activities. While safety management is improving, the level of safety is more often balanced against efficiency and environment. This could result in a decrease of the level of safety while the target level of safety is still met.

IFATCA Policy is:

In the operation, maintenance and development of the ATM system when balancing the requirements of safety, efficiency and the environment, the level of safety shall always be maintained or improved.

In case environmentally driven procedures are introduced in the ATM System, these shall be introduced taking into consideration the increased complexity for the controller. This complexity shall be managed at the appropriate, strategic, level. A trade-off between environment and capacity shall be considered as part of this management of complexity, as safety is paramount.

Individual environmental aspects shall be considered by an ATM environmental management system and documented in an ATM environment case as part of an overall performance case.

Provisions for an ATM environment management system should comprise at least the following requirements:

  • Ensure that the level of safety shall be maintained or improved when environmentally-driven procedures are introduced;
  • Ensure that all individual environmental factors are identified and considered while establishing procedures;
  • The actual values (noise levels, fuel consumption and the amount of emissions) of the various individual environmental contributors of new or existing procedures should be established in detail for transparency reasons;
  • The interrelation of the various individual environmental factors should be identified and addressed.

Provisions for an environment case should comprise at least the following requirements:

  • An environment case is a documented body of evidence that provides argument that a certain procedure is optimized for all individual environmental factors as prioritized by the appropriate authorities;
  • An environment case should provide a detailed overview to the appropriate authorities for the determination of priorities of the individual environmental factors on a strategic level.

See: Resolutions B1, B2, B3 – WP 87 – Amman 2011

See also: WP 91 – Cancun 2002, WP 93 – Arusha 2008, WP 84 – Dubrovnik 2009 and WP 105 – Dubrovnik 2009


Last Update: August 2, 2022  

November 4, 2019   690   Jean-Francois Lepage    ATS    

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