skip to content

MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Achieving Sustainable Urbanisation: the Case of Air Pollution from Airports

Sustainable practice regarding the environment in airport design and flight management such as at taxi, take-off and landing etc. is very important. Emissions of pollutants to air and air quality around airports are currently a matter of great interest both to those assessing local developments and to international bodies such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO’s) Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP). Appropriate consideration of these requires a systemic approach and tools for source apportionment and assessment of relative impacts.
While airport expansion proposals attract huge controversy and public debate for many years in the UK, there is almost no assessment of air quality when a new airport expansion is planned or developed in China as a consequence of the rapid urbanisation transformation. This research will attempt to answer the following key research questions: what is the appropriate methodology which can be adopted for compiling emission inventories and carrying out detailed air quality assessments for airports in China.
This study uses internationally accepted methodologies and some case studies which have been carried out in the UK to form a framework for assessing emissions from airports and associated impacts on air quality in China, using Beijing as an example. Potential methodologies for assessing air pollution in the neighbourhood of airports will be discussed. Comparative studies on air quality between airports in UK and China will also be carried out.
A key aspect of the study would be developing a pragmatic/robust ways of calculating airport emissions. An approximate air quality assessment for Beijing for long term average concentrations using flight schedules, airport layout, meteorology and source apportionments is conducted. Finally, suggestions for improving methodology, legislation, practices and information access in air quality assessment for airports in China are proposed.
This study is highly original. This is believed to be the first time such detailed emissions calculated and air quality modelled and assessed for an airport in China.

Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.