AeroMAPS: the reference tool for exploring the possible futures of aviation

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• The AeroMAPS tool, developed by researchers at ISAE-SUPAERO, can be used to assess the environmental impact of air transport and the effectiveness or limitations of levers for decarbonizing the sector.
• Initially designed for research and training purposes, it now serves as a multidisciplinary platform for experts and decision-makers from institutions, industry and associations.
• Through its scientific expertise, ISAE-SUPAERO contributes to the public debate on the place of aviation in our society.

What are the levers for decarbonizing air transport?

AeroMAPS offers a new perspective on this question. This tool, developed by a team of researchers at ISAE-SUPAERO, is designed to explore and assess the effectiveness of strategies to reduce the impact of air transport on international commitments to combat climate change.

By playing on the sector’s transition levers, AeroMAPS users can define the scenarios whose impacts they wish to analyze. For example, the introduction of new aircraft types, the use of new fuels or the rate of growth in air traffic.

"Based on the hypotheses chosen, AeroMAPS evaluates the corresponding CO2 emissions, other climate impacts and associated consumption of energy resources," explains Thomas Planès, lecturer and researcher in sustainable aviation and aircraft design at ISAE-SUPAERO. "We can then compare them with the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.

At a time when air traffic emits 2.5% of CO2 emissions linked to human activities, this platform is proving essential for exploring the possible futures of aviation, in keeping with ISAE-SUPAERO’s commitment to mobilizing its academic and scientific skills in support of the transition to a sustainable society.

Screenshot AeroMAPS

A reference tool for research

AeroMAPS is the first air transport scenario simulation platform built on an open-source scientific methodology. This means that the entire scientific community can appropriate the tool and participate in its evolution. Its development has been integrated into the work of the Institute for Sustainable Aviation (ISA), a collaborative research institute initiated by ISAE-SUPAERO, which aims to address the transition to low-carbon aviation in all its complexity.

"We wanted to build the most comprehensive sectoral assessment model possible, including technological, environmental, economic and sociological considerations," explains Laurent Joly, Director of ISA. "The aim is to make AeroMAPS a reference tool for research."

The platform was initially designed and developed to enable researchers to explore air transport transition scenarios in detail. It was soon integrated into training programs: first as part of the ISAE-SUPAERO engineering curriculum, then as part of continuing education programs.

"For those who work all day on sizing tomorrow’s aircraft architectures, AeroMAPS enables them to step back from the various levers of action, and understand the concrete effect of each lever," emphasizes Thomas Planès.

The AeroMAPS team at ISAE-SUPAER (l. to r.): Scott Delbecq, Antoine Salgas, Thomas Planès and Félix Pollet.

Visualizing CO2 emissions

The potential of AeroMAPS and its uniqueness gradually prompted the two teacher-researchers behind the project, Scott Delbecq and Thomas Planès, to think bigger.

A second thesis, in partnership with Toulouse Business School, was launched to add a socio-economic dimension to the tool. "Decarbonization options, such as new aircraft models and different alternative fuels, do not have the same economic characteristics and will cost more or less," explains Antoine Salgas, recruited as a PhD student on the project.

He then developed an inventory of traffic and emissions, enabling the analyses made with AeroMAPS to be partitioned and regionalized. "I gathered numerous sources and developed models to create an open database, as part of a collaboration with the Dutch university TU Delft."

This work led to the creation of a second tool, AeroSCOPE, aimed at researchers, decision-makers and the general public. "AeroSCOPE visualizes the location of aviation-related CO2 emissions worldwide. Thanks to the combination of the two tools, we can refine scenarios and be much more precise about the decarbonization solutions we can propose by region."

"At the service of society"

Today, AeroMAPS’ comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach is a decision-making aid for the entire aeronautics ecosystem, as well as for institutional, industrial and association decision-makers.

"This methodological, scientific and open basis enables us to reach consensus and respond to a need for transparency", notes Scott Delbecq, lecturer and researcher in aeronautical systems design.

To facilitate use of the tool, a partnership has been set up with the digital services company Sopra Steria. This major tech player built the platform’s new web interface to enhance the user experience and make it accessible to decision-makers.

Set to go online in 2023, AeroMAPS is now "at the service of society, the people who make decisions and the stakeholders in the aviation sector - manufacturers, airlines, airports - as well as the general public, who need to know where aviation is heading", concludes Laurent Joly.


Researchers behind AeroMAPS

Scott Delbecq portrait
Driven by a strong desire to contribute to the transition of the aviation sector, I focus my research on the design of aeronautical systems and their deployment in prospective scenarios. I am also responsible for the software development of two open source platforms: FAST-OAD, dedicated to the preliminary design of aircraft, and AeroMAPS, specialising in the simulation of prospective scenarios. More specifically, I’m developing methods to increase the analysis and optimisation capabilities of these platforms. At the same time, I’m working to integrate these research tools into our teaching programmes. My aim is to provide our students with the skills and knowledge they need to become the leaders and architects of the airline industry’s transition.

Scott Delbecq - teacher-researcher in aeronautical systems design

Thomas Planès portrait
As a researcher working for the transition to sustainable aviation, my research focuses on modeling the air transport system. It involves assessing environmental impacts and analyzing decarbonization solutions. I’m in charge of the AeroMAPS project, launched in 2020 as part of my thesis at ISAE-SUPAERO, to which a number of researchers and doctoral students are contributing. One of the aims is to turn the main AeroMAPS tool into an integrated assessment model for the aviation sector. To this end, the necessary multidisciplinary work is being carried out within the framework of the Institute for Sustainable Aviation. Finally, I’m committed to integrating these various contents into our training courses, to enable our students to be the future players in the sector’s transition.

Thomas Planès - Teacher-researcher in sustainable aviation and aircraft design at ISAE-SUPAERO

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