Uncertainty in aviation emissions inventories: Sources and improvements

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The approach to sustainable aviation requires effective policy and regulation, informed by accurate environmental research. Aviation emissions inventories form the basis of any environmental assessment, however they are based on simplifications and assumptions that introduce a degree of uncertainty. In terms of robust model development, it is necessary to identify significant sources of uncertainty to determine priorities for improvement.

The results of a global sensitivity analysis identifies 5 key contributors to uncertainty across fuelburn and emissions estimates: BADA Drag and Fuel Flow corrective multipliers, Takeoff Weight, Taxi Thrust and Arrival Inefficiency. Across the emitted species, uncertainty is driven by their respective EI.

EUROCONTROL flight track data allows for an analysis of lateral inefficiencies, and improved distribution fitting. The resulting distributions are more representative of actual flight behavior. The introduction of these improved distributions into the original model result in an overall reduction in fuelburn and emissions estimates.