Certification of an aircraft and airborne surveillance of fuel sulfur content in ships at the SECA border
Rapport, 2017

In 2015 new rules from the IMO and legislation from EU (Sulfur directive) and the US requires ships to run with maximum fuel sulfur content (FSC) of 0.1 % m/m in northern European and North American waters. In order to promote a level playing field within the shipping sector, there is a need for measurement systems that can make effective compliance control and this is the main objective of the CompMon project, funded through the European CEF program (Connecting Europe Facility). As part of this project, a sensor system has been certified for ship surveillance measurements in a Piper Navajo aircraft and it has been demonstrated for airborne measurements of FSC in individual ships on the English Channel.

The measurement system consists of an optical module which measures total emissions of SO2 and NO2 in g/s and a sniffer system by which FSC is retrieved from extractive measurements of SO2 and CO2. It can be used from fixed sites, patrol vessels and from aircraft. The advantage with airborne surveillance is the capability to check ships that are operating in the main shipping lanes, up to 200 nautical miles from shore. The precision of the estimated FSC from the sniffer system is 0.05 % m/m and hence at the 95 % confidence limit, ships above a FSC of 0.2 % m/m can be checked. The sniffer system also has a negative bias in the FSC of approx- imately 0.04 % m/m which is accounted for in the FSC calculations.

The optical system has larger measurement uncertainties than the sniffer but it is intended mostly for guid- ance of other controls.

As part of the CompMon project, a measurements campaign with the Navajo Piper aircraft was carried out at the SECA (Sulfur Emission Control Area) border in the English Channel at longitude 5 W. Six flight missions with duration of 4 to 5 hours were carried out from September 2 to 10, 2016, flying from Brest airport. In this manner it was possible to cover the longitude range 2o - 6o W. During the campaign, 114 ships were measured with the sniffer system, corresponding to 71 ships inside the SECA and 42 ships outside. The level of compli- ance inside the SECA was here 87 % and this is considerably lower than measurements carried out elsewhere within CompMon in other parts of the SECA (95-99 %). Two thirds of the non-complying vessels were leav- ing the SECA. With the optical system 110 individual ships were measured, 42 outside and 68 inside the SE- CA. The measurements show a similar pattern as the sniffer data but with a few false values. Nevertheless it is shown that both low and high FSC ships will be classified correctly with about 80-90 % probability with the optical system and this system is hence very promising as a tool to guide further compliance controls.

EU sulfur directive


Sulfur surveillance





Johan Mellqvist

Mikrovågs- och optisk fjärranalys

Alexander Vladimir Conde Jacobo

Chalmers, Rymd- och geovetenskap, Optisk fjärranalys

Jörg Beecken

Mikrovågs- och optisk fjärranalys

Johan Ekholm

Mikrovågs- och optisk fjärranalys


Hållbar utveckling




Rymd- och flygteknik

Marin teknik






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