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Aircraft on the Ground CO2 reduction programme

Heathrow airfield at night

Sustainability case study

"Airports have an important role to play in reducing the environmental impact of aviation. This new, exciting scheme will complement the existing great work being done by airports across the country and enable all to share best business practice going forward. It’s not a case of competition, as the industry must work together to take action on environmental challenges.”

Ed Anderson, AOA Chairman

Heathrow is taking part in a major new initiative to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from aircraft on the ground.

The Aircraft on the Ground CO2 Reduction Programme, launched by the Airport Operators Association (AoA) in July 2010, aims to reduce emissions from aircraft as they taxi around the airport, and from power used to provide stationary planes with electricity and cool air.

As Heathrow's owners, we led the development of the programme working with partners from Sustainable Aviation, the UK initiative that brings together main players from UK airlines, airports, manufacturers and Air Traffic Management providers.

The programme provides practical guidance to help airlines, air navigation service providers, ground handling companies and airport operators cut CO2 emissions from aircraft movements on the ground.

Heathrow is one of 15 airports across the UK – which together represent 70% of the country’s passenger traffic – that have joined the programme. The aim is to capture best practices across the industry and build on these to achieve further efficiency improvements in future, both at Heathrow and by working through the AoA across UK airports.

Initial work indicates that initiatives at Heathrow to promote switching off one aircraft engine during taxiing and supplying stationary aircraft with electricity from fixed power units and pre-conditioned air (rather than running on-board auxiliary power units that use carbon intensive aviation fuel) are already cutting emissions by up to 100,000 tonnes a year compared to a do-nothing scenario.

"The UK aviation industry is leading the world in our collective work to pioneer new procedures and technologies that will improve our environmental performance. As part of this work, the new AOA guidance provides a clear framework for airport operators to address targeted areas of operations by encouraging measurement of current practice, planning to deliver results and a system of review."

Colin Wood, HAL's Director of Operations

Input Output Outcomes
  • Number of members: 15 airports across the country, together handling 153.3 million passengers in 2009, or 70% of all UK passenger traffic (CAA, 200)





  • Estimated CO2 savings at Heathrow from reduced engine taxiing as well as use of fixed electrical ground power and pre-conditioned air: 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year compared to doing nothing
  • Efficiency savings: approximately 20% per movement for ground based aircraft activity today, with potential to go higher in the future
  • Global savings: 6 million tonnes CO2 annually (estimated by IATA)
  • Improved understanding of managing emissions on the ground
  • Leadership and sharing best practices on CO2 and NOx emissions, as well as noise impacts
  • Active involvement of aviation industry in tackling climate change


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