In line with its nett-zero aspirations, the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) launched the first Free Routing Airspace (FRA) trials workshop in Addis Ababa at the end of October to demonstrate the financial and sustainability benefits of a digital aviation navigation migration.
Although sustainable aviation fuel is the recommended course of action, it is expensive and in short supply.
“While the search is on to find a viable SAF stock, we’ve got to look for other way to cut emissions,” explains Linden Birns, MD of Plane Talking, PR agency which operates in the aviation space.
FRA is the African aviation industry’s migration to digital forms of air navigation from older land-based navigation systems that currently determine most waypoints. This will see the implementation of technology such as satellite, radar, astral mapping and GPS that can determine faster and more efficient flight paths. Eight routes are currently on trial - five from Ethiopian Airlines and three from Kenya Airways.
“FRA would allow aircraft to fly between two places on the shortest route, and at optimal height, and would allow airlines to spend less money on fuel, however it requires a continent-wide investment in newer navigation technologies,” says Birns.
The FRA implementation aligns with the global strategy of providing efficiency in operations, lowering air navigation fees while reducing flight operating costs and CO2 emissions.
In his opening remarks, AFRAA Secretary-General Abderahmane Berthe said: “Implementing these trial routes will annually bring significant cost savings to the participating airlines and will support a sustainable future for the African industry.”