Airlines granted permission to choose their own routes across the Atlantic

Posted by Kyro Mitchell on 11 February 2021

The COVID-19 crisis might have had a devastating impact on the world’s aviation industry, but it looks like there has been at least one positive outcome from the pandemic, that being a significant reduction in the amount of air traffic.

Airlines granted permission to choose their own routes across the Atlantic

Airlines now have the ability to select their own flight paths

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, flights between Europe and North America was one of the busiest routes globally, with around 1,700 flights taking place each day. Each of these flights was forced to follow a handful of designated paths, essentially forming a high altitude road network in the sky.

Now, thanks to the lack of flights clogging up the skies, airlines can now select their own paths on transatlantic flights, which could result in huge fuel savings and a reduction in emissions, according to CNN Business.

NATS and NAV Canada, who are responsible for controlling the UK and Canadian airspace have announced that they will not designate specific routes on days when traffic allows, as part of a new experiment. The lack of a designated route now means airlines are allowed to select their own flight paths based on the most optimum route, speed and trajectory for that particular flight.

‘The dramatic fall in traffic we’ve seen across the Atlantic has given us a window of opportunity to do things differently, and to introduce things more quickly than otherwise might have been possible,’ NATS told CNN Business.

The new experiment is made possible thanks to a decrease in air traffic, but advancements in satellite systems used to monitor North Atlantic air traffic also plays a huge role in making this possible. Air controllers now have the ability to track real-time data on planes over the ocean, meaning they can instantly relay information back to pilots in the event that something goes wrong during a flight.

In terms of how this experiment could affect fuel savings, researchers from the University of Reading in England studied over 30,000 transatlantic flights that took place before the pandemic hit. They found that allowing aircraft to take advantage of wind patterns- like they are able to now thanks to the lack of air traffic- could reduce fuel usage by as much as 16%.

An exact date as to when the experiment will reach its conclusion has not been announced. However, once air traffic starts to increase, it is safe to assume airlines will once again make use of designated flight paths.


Picture: Pixabay

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