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The Contrail Mitigation Potential of Aircraft Formation Flight Derived from High-Resolution Simulations

Unterstrasser, Simon (2020) The Contrail Mitigation Potential of Aircraft Formation Flight Derived from High-Resolution Simulations. Aerospace, 7 (12), p. 170. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). doi: 10.3390/aerospace7120170. ISSN 2226-4310.

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Official URL: https://www.mdpi.com/2226-4310/7/12/170


Formation flight is one potential measure to increase the efficiency of aviation. Flying in the upwash region of an aircraft’s wake vortex field is aerodynamically advantageous. It saves fuel and concomitantly reduces the carbon foot print. However, CO2 emissions are only one contribution to the aviation climate impact among several others (contrails, emission of H2O and NOx). In this study, we employ an established large eddy simulation model with a fully coupled particle-based ice microphysics code and simulate the evolution of contrails that were produced behind formations of two aircraft. For a large set of atmospheric scenarios, these contrails are compared to contrails behind single aircraft. In general, contrails grow and spread by the uptake of atmospheric water vapour. When contrails are produced in close proximity (as in the formation scenario), they compete for the available water vapour and mutually inhibit their growth. The simulations demonstrate that the contrail ice mass and total extinction behind a two-aircraft formation are substantially smaller than for a corresponding case with two separate aircraft and contrails. Hence, this first study suggests that establishing formation flight may strongly reduce the contrail climate effect.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/139170/
Document Type:Article
Title:The Contrail Mitigation Potential of Aircraft Formation Flight Derived from High-Resolution Simulations
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Unterstrasser, SimonDLR, IPAhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-3772-3678UNSPECIFIED
Date:5 December 2020
Journal or Publication Title:Aerospace
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:p. 170
Publisher:Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
Keywords:climate impact aviation formation flight mitigation potential large-eddy simulation LES particle-based ice microphysics wake vortex
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Aeronautics
HGF - Program Themes:air traffic management and operations
DLR - Research area:Aeronautics
DLR - Program:L AO - Air Traffic Management and Operation
DLR - Research theme (Project):L - Climate, Weather and Environment (old)
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Atmospheric Physics > Transport Meteorology
Deposited By: Unterstraßer, Dr. Simon
Deposited On:04 Dec 2020 14:47
Last Modified:24 Oct 2023 15:13

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