Climate change will shape many aspects of citizens’ lives in the 21st century and beyond. Therefore, major Air Traffic Management (ATM) changes, in the way energy is used or wasted, are required to limit global warming. The HERON project, running from November 2022 to October 2025, aims to foster the deployment of a set of ambitious targets to mitigate CO2 emissions from air transport through more efficient aircraft operations both in the air and on the ground.

Co-funded within CINEA’s framework of Connecting Europe Facility, the Digital Sky Demonstrator led by the SESAR 3 JU member Airbus brings together partners across 10 countries; they represent the full aviation ecosystem, including airlines, airports, air traffic control agencies, and service providers.

HERON’s ambition

HERON’s goal is to pursue the deployment of already-mature solutions as steps that contribute toward achieving the air transport industry’s objective of “net-zero carbon emissions by 2050”, as set by the International Air Transport Association, the Air Transport Action Group, and the International Civil Aviation Organization. To achieve this ambition, the HERON consortium works within five demonstration areas, divided into:

  • INTEGRATED 4D FOR GREEN TRAJECTORIES: demonstrating the operational and environmental benefits of the integration of Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Contract (ADS-C) data into ATM and Air Traffic Control systems and procedures;
  • GREEN SURFACE OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT: aiming to demonstrate operational aspects of available greener (and smart) technologies to increase sustainability while optimising operations at medium and large European airports;
  • OPTIMISED APPROACHES: linked to the operational flight demonstration of greener approaches, including Continuous Descent Operations, optimised approach spacing management integrating wind aloft, and increased second glideslope solutions;
  • IMPROVED TRAJECTORY PLANNING: improves the management of trajectory through the implementation of solutions at EUROCONTROL/Network Manager and local levels, allowing airspace users to file more efficient trajectories according to the available ATM improvements;
  • ADS-C COMMON SERVICES: aims to develop further the ADS-C common service and all its components.

Demonstrations will involve aircraft operators, airports, and Air Navigation Service Providers, covering different types of operation aimed at reducing noise, flight delays, fuel consumption, and CO2 emissions from air transport, thus mitigating global warming and its environmental and social impacts.

The Consortium

On 1-2 December 2022, the Consortium gathered in Istanbul hosted by the İGA Istanbul Airport to launch HERON. The Kick-off Meeting was an occasion for the partners to dive into the HERON concept and explore their endeavours towards solid results.

Project coordinator: Airbus.
Project partners: Air France, Airtel, ALTYS Technologies, Brussels Airport, Deep Blue, DFS, DSNA, EasyJet, ENAIRE, ENAV, ESSP, EUROCONTROL, Groupe ADP, Istanbul Grand Airport, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Leonardo, Lufthansa Group, NATS, PANSA, Schiphol Nederland BV, skeyes, The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Corsica, Transavia.