Unique projects


Increasing environmental protection and contributing to the sustainable development of our activity are strategic goals of Aena's R&D activities. For this reason, the Environment Department is participating in the following outstanding projects:

  • SESAR Programme
  • Implementation of Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) in airports with medium traffic density
  • Electric vehicles in airports.
SESAR Programme

In the context of the Single European Sky initiative, Aena is participating in the SESAR Programme (Single European Sky ATM Research), which is the response of the aeronautical community (users, service providers, airports, industry, regulators, military authorities, pilots, controllers, research centres, etc.) defining the R&D programme to modernise air traffic control in Europe.

Aena participates actively in different projects of the SESAR Programme dedicated exclusively to the environment.

Continuous Descent Approach (CDA)

The Continuous Descent Approach system (CDA) is a tool now available and applicable in airports during low traffic density periods (for example, at night).

The problem with applying CDA procedures in medium/high density traffic airports is that each aircraft in continuous descent has a different optimum speed, so that current control techniques cannot be used, as these ensure a minimum distance between aircraft using radar vectors, speed restrictions and waiting manoeuvres which would interfere with the CDA manoeuvre, making it impossible.

The application of CDA in medium and high traffic scenarios must be supported by new techniques for keeping aircraft apart based on time instead of distance, enabling the air traffic controller to sequence the aircraft in time. There are projects now underway to find technical solutions to this problem, such as SESAR, but these are based on tools such as arrivals managers with exploration times of more than 20 minutes, which will not be available for use until 2014.

Therefore, Aena , in collaboration with CRIDA (the ATM R&D Reference Centre), Air Europa, Boeing (BR&TE) and Ineco, is carrying out a project to define an operational scenario which, while producing a minimal impact on aircraft and ATC, permits the application of Continuous Descent Procedures (CDA), satisfying the demands of capacity and safety, which can be carried out immediately in 2012.

The operational scenario of the project is Palma de Mallorca Airport, but the results obtained from the project will be easily extrapolated to most airports in the Aena network.

Image Continuous Descent Approach
Electric vehicles

Aena , as part of its commitment to the environment, has defined a viability study of 100% electric vehicles (BEV, battery electric vehicle) in and around airports.

In the previous introductory phase, three tests were carried out with various models of commercially available electric vehicles. The chosen scenarios were Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport and its surroundings, and Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport. The results obtained in this previous phase were satisfactory.

The next phase will be general, with detailed records of the basic parameters associated with the movement of the electric vehicles (consumption, features, costs and incidents).

The locations chosen in this case are Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas, Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat, Palma de Mallorca and César Manrique-Lanzarote Airports. A total of thirty-three vehicles, both cars and light industrial vehicles, will be studied.

As part of the equipment for the viability study, these airports will be provided with the recharging infrastructure needed to supply the electricity these vehicles require. The system designed for this purpose includes an automatic record of the energy consumed recharging each vehicle.

Aena has decided to use vehicles and equipment offered by the industry, and expects to participate in their subsequent development, providing data from the records obtained.