Last week, Latvian airline airBaltic successfully completed a green demonstration flight for its Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft as part of the AMBER (Arrival Modernization for Better Efficiency in Riga) project.
Capt. Pauls Calitis, Vice President Flight Operations of airBaltic: “As head of the AMBER project, I am especially proud of this accomplishment that brings us closer to Europe’s first green flights for turboprop aircraft. Almost two years have passed since the AMBER idea was born and with today’s 1st flight using advanced navigation techniques, we have achieved a notable milestone in Latvian and European aviation. In the coming months, as part of the AMBER project, airBaltic will start to fly these special arrivals in our daily traffic program. We will be the first to demonstrate the efficiency and environmental benefits of satellite-guided approaches for turboprops. A special thank-you to the many people in airBaltic and our partners at Latvia’s Air Navigation Service Provider LGS and Civil Aviation Agency that contributed to this significant aviation achievement.”
The flight was the first ever satellite guided (RNP) approach in Latvia by one of airBaltic’s Bombardier Q400s. The approach was completed during a special demonstration/test flight organized as part of the AMBER project, which aims to prove the efficiency and greenness of modern satellite navigation based approaches in Riga. The specially trained crew conducted approaches from all of the five new AMBER trajectories and post flight they reported that everything worked well and as expected, with the new AMBER arrival trajectories being nice and pleasant to fly.
Earlier this year, airBaltic, together with its consortium partners Airbus ProSky (an Airbus company specializing in Air Traffic Management solutions) and Latvia’s Air Navigation Service Provider, Latvijas Gaisa Satiksme (LGS) launched a new project under the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE) to operate Europe’s first green flights for turboprop aircraft. The AMBER project will establish new arrival procedures for Riga Airport that will shorten the distances flown, improve flight trajectories to avoid residential areas and reduce people’s exposure to noise, as well as cut fuel consumption and emissions. The new trajectories will be up to 30 nautical miles shorter towards runway than what is being flown today, and will enable reducing CO2 emissions by up to 300 kg on every Q400 flight.
“The new green procedures that will be established and validated with the Bombardier Q400 Next Gen turboprops will eventually be available to any carrier flying to Riga with the relevant aircraft equipment. The procedures will also be suitable for our brand new Bombardier CSeries jets, which we will introduce into service in 2015, and will provide further benefits for operations out of Riga, on top of their unmatched fuel efficiency”, states Capt. Pauls Calitis, Vice President Flight Operations of airBaltic.
Initial design and simulator testing phase in the AMBER project was carried out in the first half of 2013. Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers have been specifically trained on realistic simulators for the new procedures. A target of 100 flight trials will be carried out over 2013, and the CO2 savings will be analysed and published as a baseline for green turboprop operations.
The AMBER project is implemented by airBaltic in partnership with Airbus ProSky and LGS, and sponsored by SESAR, the air traffic management research programme of the Singe European Sky. With this project, SESAR will be able to demonstrate that the entire commercial aviation community, including regional aircraft, can change and reduce its impact on the environment.
airBaltic serves 60 destinations from its home base in Riga, Latvia. airBaltic offers convenient connections via North Hub Riga to its network spanning Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, CIS and the Middle East.