ESA title

DECISIONX:NETZERO

  • ACTIVITYDemonstration Project
  • STATUSOngoing
  • THEMATIC AREAAviation

Objectives of the service

The aviation industry is seeking to reduce its climate impact overall, and, in particular, impacts arising from both direct (CO2) and indirect (non-CO2) effects. The sector’s largest non-CO2 effect arises from the clouds that aircraft produce, called “condensation trails” or “contrails”. These cause increased surface warming by reflecting longwave radiation back down towards the Earth’s surface. Globally, contrails cause a climate impact of around 650 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), or around 35% of the sector’s climate footprint.* With rising public awareness and incoming regulation with the European Union, there is a need for aircraft operators to quantify and mitigate their contrails climate impact. In response, SATAVIA deploys advanced numerical weather prediction modelling to forecast contrail forming regions, modify flight plans for avoidance, and precisely calculate climate impact (including impact avoidance) post-flight.

In this context, DECISIONX:NETZERO enables operators working with SATAVIA to generate fleet non-CO2 climate impact arising from contrails, engage in trial demonstration activity to implement contrail management in practice, and support the development of climate reporting based on project activity (e.g. CO2e avoided via contrail management activity). 
The solution also enables work needed for the generation of future incentives for adopters (e.g. tradable carbon incentives generated via contrail management).

*Lee et al (2021). ‘The contribution of global aviation to anthropogenic climate forcing for 2000 to 2018.’ Atmospheric Environment 244: 117834.

DECISIONX NETZERO objectives

Users and their needs

The principal target user communities for this service are commercial aircraft operators, with a particular focus on the Europe and Middle East regions. Commercial operators face the following problems and needs.

Problem: 

  • Significant impact on climate as a result of non-CO2 emissions, specifically condensation trail radiative warming

  • Upcoming non-CO2 monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) requirements from 2025 under European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), ahead of potential regulation from 2028

Need: 

  • Quantitative contrail climate impact reporting with verified contrail climate impact model for MRV requirements 

  • A method of mitigating contrail climate impact in day-to-day operations

  • Incentive based credits system to make contrail management financially viable

Service/ system concept

SATAVIA ingests aircraft operator schedules and integrates these with in-house numerical weather prediction modelling to predict which flights will generate persistent warming contrails (typically around 5% of schedules). Alternatively, SATAVIA can target a particular flight at operator request. SATAVIA runs aircraft trajectories through an atmospheric digital twin that quantifies key meteorological parameters across billions of model cells, enabling the forecasting of contrail forming conditions in addition to explicit modelling of contrail formation and climate impact.

DECISIONX NETZERO service concept

SATAVIA then provides operators with optimisations for individual flight trajectories, routing aircraft away from contrail forming regions where possible. Post-flight, SATAVIA re-runs the trajectory using hindcast weather data to quantify contrail climate impact and benefits achieved via contrail management, for conversion into future carbon credits.

DECISIONX NETZERO service concept 2

The DECISIONX:NETZERO solution is actively supporting the carbon accreditation process, including the generation of validation data and flight operations experience needed to support future generation of carbon credits (e.g. via SATAVIA’s patented methodology concept for the generation of Certified Mitigation Outcome Units now approved by Gold Standard).

Space Added Value

Space assets involved include Earth Observation (EO) services such as Meteosat and Sentinel satellites, providing input data for global climate models and numerical weather prediction models. In addition, SATAVIA utilises customer-provided aeronautical satellite data communications and the Spire constellation for location data of aviation assets via ADS-B tracking data.

Current Status

SATAVIA have successfully completed CCN#1 Baseline and Critical design review and are now working towards Factory and Site acceptance testing in September 2023.

To test contrail management within flight operations, SATAVIA will run contrail management trials with selected project airlines and collect KPIs to assess both the environmental benefits and operational challenges faced when implementing contrail management.

SATAVIA has entered into commercial agreements with Etihad Airways, KLM and KLM Cityhopper to trial DECISIONX:NETZERO within operations, integrating contrail management into flight operations processes and systems to reduce the non-CO2 impact of flying.

DECISIONX NETZERO current status

SATAVIA’s DECISIONX platform utilises the technology stack and atmospheric modelling developed during the DECISIONX project to a forecast contrail formation, prevent the formation of contrails, quantify resulting climate benefit. SATAVIA contrail avoidance technology reduces the climate impact of necessary flight operations, generating consumer-facing green credentials and – in future – commercially beneficial offset credits. SATAVIA’s high impact contrail prevention technology has the potential to eliminate up to 60% of aviation’s impact on climate (Lee et al, 2021).

Following the achievement of the Factory Acceptance Test and onsite Acceptance Test milestones in September 2023, SATAVIA will now start carrying out a number of operational trials with airlines until Q1 2024.

Prime Contractor(s)

Status Date

Updated: 13 September 2023