Empirical analysis of the effect of descent flight path angle on primary gaseous emissions of commercial aircraft


ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION, vol.236, pp.226-235, 2018 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 236
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.01.084
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.226-235
  • Keywords: Continuous descent approach, Flight path angle, Aircraft emissions, Aircraft mass, PUBLIC-HEALTH IMPACTS, AIR-QUALITY, ARRIVALS, TAKEOFF, FUEL
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


In this study, the effects of descent flight path angle (between 1.25 degrees and 4.25 degrees) on aircraft gaseous emissions (carbon monoxide, total hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides) are explored using actual flight data from aircraft flight data recording system and emissions indices from the International Civil Aviation Organization. All emissions parameters are corrected to flight conditions using Boeing Fuel Flow Method2, where the ambient air pressure, temperature and humidity data are obtained from long-term radiosonde data measured close to the arrival airport. The main findings highlight that the higher the flight path angle, the higher the emission indices of CO and HC, whereas the lower the emissions index of NOx and fuel consumption. Furthermore, during a descent, a heavier aircraft tends to emit less CO and HC, and more NOx. For a five-tonne aircraft mass increase, the average change in emissions indices are found to be -4.1% and -5.7% (CO), -5.4% and -8.2% (HC), and +1.1% and +1.6% (NOx) for high and low flight path angle groups, respectively. The average emissions indices for CO, HC and NOx during descent are calculated to be 24.5, 1.7 and 5.6 g/kg of fuel, whereas the average emissions for descending from 32,000 ft (9.7 km) and 24,000 ft (7.3 km) are calculated to be 7-8 kg (CO), similar to 0.5 kg (HC) and similar to 3 kg (NOx). (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.