CERC — Environmental Software and Services


Researching the impact of aviation on local air quality

CERC researches the impact of aviation on air quality:

  • at a global scale, e.g. analysis for ICAO CAEP of the global implications of policy changes such as revisions to the global emissions standards for aircraft engines;
  • and at a local scale, such as the SNAQ research project where CERCís ADMS-Airport model is being used for very detailed modelling dispersion modelling of aircraft operations at a single airport, Heathrow, in conjunction with a very detailed monitoring campaign.

Our own software products are fundamental tools in these research activities.

  • ADMS-Airport is a comprehensive tool for managing air quality at airports. It is an extension of the ADMS-Urban model, designed to model the concentration of pollutants at airports in rural or complex urban environments.
  • EMIT is an emissions inventory tool allowing calculation and manipulation of local air quality and greenhouse gas emissions from airport operation, including main-engine emissions (using ICAO default times-in-mode), GSE, APU, and any surrounding urban or industrial sources.
  • The ADMS-Airport Emissions Calculator is a sophisticated tool for calculating aircraft main-engine emissions during landing and take-off. It combines an ECAC Doc 29 performance model with BFFM2 and FAO v3 to calculate emissions of pollutants including PM10, NOx, and NO2.

We also provide consultancy on aviation and local air quality.

Here are details of some recent projects.

Recent aviation research projects

UK Department for Transport (DfT), Local Air Quality Modelling Tools for CAEP (ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection), 2007-2013

CERC has worked on DfT’s input to CAEP’s Model and Databases Group for CAEP/7, CAEP/8, CAEP/9 and CAEP/10. Two examples of the work included under this project are presented below.

1. CAEPport sample problem

CAEP image

(Click to enlarge)

In CAEP/8 four Local Air Quality (LAQ) models were evaluated in the Capabilities and Inter-Comparison Study, or CAEPport Study. The intent was to provide a side-by-side comparison of the four LAQ candidate models. A ‘mock’ airport was used to exercise the candidate models regarding (1) emission source characterization and (2) pollutant dispersion modelling according to a common set of input parameters, a shared set of meteorological data, and a uniform array of downwind receptors. The individual model results were compared to understand the range of potential answers provided to CAEP during the CAEP/8 Work Programme. Significant differences are evident. For CAEP/8 and CAEP/9 these models were used solely for calculating emissions. Their capabilities for concentration calculations may be used in future CAEP rounds.

2. NOX stringency and environmental goals

This study is for the LAQ impacts of the ‘NOX stringency’ (a study of the impact of possible changes to aircraft engine emissions limits on NOX) and ‘environmental goals’ (a wider-ranging study of progress towards ICAO’s environmental goals) as part of the policy assessment for CAEP/8. The work involved full calculations of aircraft main-engine emissions with flight performance models covering all significant airports worldwide. The assessments helped to formulate the change in NOX emissions limits that was agreed at CAEP/8.

CAEP/9 has involved little modelling work that was directly focused on LAQ, but CERC has contributed to relevant reports, for example the Modellers and Database Group (MDG) dispersion Working Paper (WP) and the MDG comments on the ICAO Airport Air Quality Manual (ICAO document 9889)

CERC works on these studies with the other members of the MDG sub group for Local Air Quality (LAQ) modelling. The other members include US FAA, ENVISA (sponsored by EUROCONTROL), and Janicke Consulting (sponsored by FOCA and BMVBS).

CERC’s participation in ICAO CAEP is sponsored by UK DfT.

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NERC, SNAQ-Heathrow, 2011-2013

CERC are partners in the SNAQ-Heathrow project, Sensor Networks for Air Quality at Heathrow Airport. This will use a large array of state-of-the-art, low-cost, sensors for selected gases and for particulates, providing an unprecedented data-set. The project has wide-ranging support from DfT, BAA, BA, OMEGA and the London boroughs adjacent to Heathrow Airport. It is funded by NERC from January 2011- December 2013. The project will produce a calibrated, high spatial and temporal resolution data set including NO, NO2, CO, CO2, SO2, O3, VOCs and size-speciated PM. CERC will be carrying out detailed emissions and dispersion modelling using ADMS-Airport and the Aircraft Emissions Calculator, with the goal of comparing the model predictions and measurement data in order to lead to improvements in both the modelling and the measurements.

European Commission, TEAM_Play, 2010-2013

CERC were partners in the EC FP7 research project TEAM_Play (Tool Suite for Environmental and Economic Aviation Modelling for Policy Analysis). TEAM_Play has set up an effective and efficiently working Tool Suite to provide powerful tools for the performance of adequate policy assessment studies within ICAO-CAEP and on European, national and local levels. This included a number of studies of hypothetical future changes to aircraft engines such as the introduction of a CO2 emission standard and the introduction of ‘open rotor’ engines.

CERC are one of the four partners within TEAM_Play who operated Local Air Quality models. ADMS-Airport and its Emissions Calculator were used in a variety of demonstration problems to prove their capability for carrying out assessments of the impact of aviation on Local Air Quality, through dispersion modelling and detailed performance-based modelling of aircraft main-engine emissions.

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