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Friday, 19 May 2023

Air Canada Installs Air Quality Sensors from IAGOS on an A330

(19/05/23)  One of Air Canada's Airbus A330 aircraft has been outfitted with special diagnostics sensors in partnership with In-Service Aircraft for a Global Observing System (IAGOS), an international non-profit organization that utilizes commercial aircraft as a global observation platform of climate change and air quality.

The sensors allow IAGOS to collect valuable worldwide data on climate parameters which will be used by the international scientific community as well as forecasting services like the Atmosphere Service of Copernicus, for research on climate change and air quality on a global scale.

"We are delighted that Air Canada is the latest airline to join the IAGOS program," said Jean-Marie Flaud, President of IAGOS-AISBL, CNRS and Ministere de L'Enseignement Superieur et de la Recherche, France. "The measurements of greenhouse gases, reactive gases, aerosols and clouds are crucial in the global observing system to support societal needs for a greener and more sustainable future. Air Canada will provide important new data to understand climate change issues in northern regions which are warming more than twice as fast as elsewhere, along with new data for tracking wildfire smoke plumes across the continent to improve forecasts of air-quality."

An Air Canada A330 has been outfitted with sensors from In-Service Aircraft for a Global Observing System (IAGOS). Click to enlarge.
An Air Canada A330 has been outfitted with sensors from In-Service Aircraft for a Global Observing System (IAGOS)

As part of the partnership, Air Canada has installed IAGOS's state-of-the-art climate research monitoring devices on Fin 939, one of its A330-300 widebody aircraft.

The device will measure a range of parameters, including ozone, water vapour, greenhouse gases, reactive gases, aerosols, clouds, etc. during various stages of flight, including take-off, cruising altitude and landing.

"After only a few days in operation, the aircraft has already detected exceptional levels of carbon monoxide over eastern Canada emanating from the intense wildfires in Alberta. Scientists will use these data to understand the impact of events like this on the atmosphere, on air quality and ultimately on climate," said Dr. Hannah Clark, Executive Secretary for IAGOS-AISBL.

The A330, one of only two aircraft types approved for the IAGOS systems along with the A340, flies a mix of trans-Atlantic and trans-continental flights for Air Canada, providing key data for IAGOS.

The IAGOS device is a compact system featuring measuring probes which are permanently installed on the aircraft, near the flight deck. After each flight, the measurement data is automatically transmitted to the central database of the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) research centre in Toulouse, France.

According to IAGOS, commercial aircraft provide an ideal platform for gathering trace gas measurements, as they can efficiently measure at high altitudes where collecting samples is otherwise challenging. IAGOS is working with airlines worldwide and this will allow for the validation of global climate models and provide near real-time data in an open-source manner to researchers around the world. The research findings are freely accessible and currently utilized by approximately 300 global organizations.

"These precise measurements of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) will be very valuable for trend and process studies, addressing Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) priorities to understand and track the origin, fate and impact of critical contaminants in the environment," said Dr. David W. Tarasick, Senior Research Scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada. "IAGOS data already have an important role in ECCC research and monitoring, and the addition of an Air Canada aircraft to the IAGOS fleet will greatly increase data availability over Canada, and permit better visualization of the global movement of air pollution. This will allow us to better understand the impacts of wildfires and urban pollution, the additional impacts of climate change on these processes, and to evaluate the success of emissions reductions."

Air Canada has set an ambitious goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) throughout its global operations by 2050. To reach this, the airline has set absolute midterm GHG net reduction targets by 2030 in its air and ground operations compared to its 2019 baseline and has committed to investing $50 Million in Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), and carbon reductions and removals research and development.

"Air Canada is committed to full-scale sustainability and working with IAGOS is a meaningful way we can contribute to the collection of valuable, global data on climate parameters for further science research," said Valerie Durand, Head of Investor Relations and Corporate Sustainability at Air Canada. "The information gathered will also help provide more accurate weather data crucial for airline operations, and will enable a more in-depth understanding of changing weather dynamics."

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