Magic Figure

Fewer emissions in airfreight

... metric tons of CO₂ were saved by air traffic controllers in Germany alone in 2016 – purely by ensuring that aircraft avoid circuitous routes

In general, aircraft, including those with cargo on board, do not fly to their destinations via the most direct route. Weather patterns, noise protection orders or military exercise areas with restricted airspace force them to deviate from the shortest possible flight path. That costs time – and increases their CO₂ output. As a result, air traffic controllers, in compliance with all regulations and provisions for safety and noise protection, are constantly striving to direct aircraft as closely as possible to their optimum flight trajectory.


The European Union, for example, is supporting their endeavors within the framework of the “Single European Sky” program, an initiative that coordinates all national air navigation services in Europe. In 2016 alone, the Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS), responsible for air traffic control in German airspace, achieved a reduction in CO₂ emissions totaling no less than 70,500 metric tons by selecting the most direct routes possible. The average deviation of an aircraft from its optimum flight path was only 1.1 percent in the year recorded. That amounts to 3.7 kilometers. In 2010, this figure still stood at 5.5 kilometers.


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Avoiding detours: air traffic controllers ensure that aircraft get to their destinations via the most direct route possible. Apart from flight distance, this also reduces CO2 emissions

Photo: DFS