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.
  • Green airport project
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 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, Barcelona-El Prat, Palma de Mallorca and 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.

Green airport project

A green airport uses responsibly the natural resources it needs to function, reduces energy consumption and promotes the use of renewable energy in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and manages its waste appropriately. To sum up, an airport that has a minimal impact on its environment and aims to be a carbon neutral facility (zero gas emissions).

Aena has taken another step to remain at the forefront of environmental policy, launching its 'Green Airport' project with Lanzarote Airport, where specific projects will assess the different technologies available for minimising energy consumption and CO2 emissions, until it can be certified as carbon neutral or a “green airport”.

At the same time, possible fields of action can be identified, both in airport activities and in aircraft movement, areas where the viability will be assessed of using new technologies, more efficient from the standpoint of energy consumption and carbon emissions. The possibility will also be assessed of generating renewable energy by installing photovoltaic panels and wind turbines, or using biomass plants.

Aena is exploring the various technological advances aimed at improving energy efficiency. Reducing consumption and favouring the production of energy from renewable sources is one of the objectives of this project, which will also serve to promote collaboration in the development and implementation of these measures with the airport operators and concession holders, and with the manufacturers of this technology. After assessing the viability, effectiveness and profitability of these technologies and of new operational procedures, it will be essential to check that putting them into action ensures the airport is operational and safe.


These are some of the proposals included in the 'Green Airport' project to achieve a 20% reduction in the short-term of CO2 emissions, which cause climate change and global warming.


  • Renewal of ground services with mobile equipment.
  • Installation of more efficient precision approach path indicators (PAPI), enabling a saving of 21 to 48%.
  • Reduction in the time and distance aircraft have to taxi to and from boarding gates, using a single engine to save fuel.
  • Supplying ground support services to aircraft using an underground tunnel system with retractable equipment.
  • Installation of LED devices in aeronautical ground lights, taking advantage of their high performance and low maintenance costs.


  • Efficient control of heating, cooling and lighting, with the installation of photovoltaic panels, wind turbines and geothermal heating and cooling systems.
  • Use of LEDs and replacement of lights with fuel economy, high efficiency bulbs, favouring the use of spaces which enable more natural light.
  • Advanced parking system consisting of sensors and indicator lights, in order to save energy and reduce noise and pollution.
  • Replacement of conventional vehicles for more efficient models using electricity and natural gas.
  • Possibility of installing blinds or deciduous plants in parts exposed to the sun, favouring shade in summer and sunlight in winter.