air balticLatvian airline airBaltic has completed a research and development project that will enable new flight procedures that allow aircraft to fly shorter distances and reduce fuel consumption and emissions at Riga Airport. The Latvian carrier, along with its partners Airbus ProSky and Latvijas Gaisa Satiksme, completed the Arrival Modernization for Better Efficiency in Riga (AMBER) project test flights using a Bombardier Q400 Next Gen turboprop.

AMBER has introduced new satellite-based arrival procedures with a new trajectory that is up to 30 nautical miles shorter toward the runway than what was being flown previously and reduces CO2 emissions by up to 300 kilograms on every Q400 flight. The airline estimates that when rolled out in full scale, the new procedures will reduce CO2 emissions by 5,000,000 kilograms annually across its entire fleet.
"The fuel burn reductions and emissions reductions (up to 300 kg per flight) are achieved through shorter flight trajectories and low-power continuous descent operations," Janis Vanags, a spokesperson for airBaltic told Avionics Magazine. "AMBER is a big accomplishment for airBaltic not only because its Europe’s first green flights for turboprops, but also because we will save up to [$2 million] annually when the procedure is rolled out across the whole fleet."
While the flight testing was carried out on a Bombardier Q400, airBaltic will look to operate the same procedures on its Bombardier C Series aircraft, which are scheduled to be introduced into their fleet in 2015. Other airlines will also be able to start using the new green flight procedures, as will any aircraft equipped with Performance Based Navigation (PBN) avionics, according to a statement from Pauls Calitis, vice president of flight operations at airBaltic.
The airline owes much of the credit for the establishment of the new procedures to its partnership with Airbus ProSky, the Air Traffic Management (ATM) modernization and optimization subsidiary of the popular French airframe manufacturer. Julien Ple, project manager for Airbus ProSky told Avionics Magazine his team was responsible for designing the flight procedures and testing them on A320 and Q400 simulators, supporting the preparation of the flight trial campaign and choosing the flight data collection methodology.
"The AMBER project is now complete … and the final report has been subsequently approved by SESAR," said Ple. "The next steps to implement the procedures in a non-trial mode involve: Air Baltic obtaining RNP AR [Required Navigation Performance Authorization Required] approval on the Q400, and retrofitting RNP AR modifications on the whole fleet. Air Baltic is also looking at operating the procedures on their new Bombardier CS300 fleet, to be delivered."
Outside of the Riga Airport demonstration, Airbus ProSky is also supporting several other PBN projects in Europe. These include a project in Gibraltar where the company is currently implementing RNP AR procedures to reduce weather minima, Marie loan, Airbus ProSky account executive for Europe, told Avionics Magazine.
"We are deeply involved in assisting airlines through training to fly these new approaches and guiding the approval processes with the relevant authorities. Airbus ProSky also provides ATC Training as part of the PBN projects, in order to ensure a higher clearance rate to the airlines," said loan.
The project also demonstrates the Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking's (SESARJ JU) goal of implementing similar "environmental high level objectives of the Single European Sky (SES) initiative," Florian Guillermet, executive director of SESAR JU told Avionics Magazine.

"The SESAR Joint Undertaking is delighted with the results achieved by the AMBER project. This SESAR demonstration project for turboprops has demonstrated that achieving both fuel savings and noise reduction are feasible by applying SESAR solutions. We particularly commend the efforts of airBaltic and the other partners in achieving such results in only 24 months. This project has clearly demonstrated the benefits of such procedures, which should now be considered for wide-European deployment," said Guillermet.