Countries move to adopt aircraft emissions standard at varying pace

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European regulators have set the wheels in motion to incorporate the new global aircraft CO2 emissions certification standard, adopted earlier this year by the ICAO Council, into EU law.

Similar action is also being taken in Canada, the home of Bombardier. Meanwhile, the process of implementing the new standard on Boeing’s turf appears to be underway, albeit at a slower pace.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced earlier this month that following a stakeholder consultation period, during which state and industry groups provided “generally positive” comments, it had submitted an ‘Opinion’ on the proposed measure to the European Commission.

“The main objective of this Opinion is to reduce aviation’s climate change and local air quality impact by introducing the new ICAO aeroplane CO2 standard and aircraft engine non-volatile particulate matter (PM) emissions standard into European Union (EU) legislation,” says EASA.

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EASA’s input will form “the technical basis to prepare the proposed new EU legislation” for adopting the standard.

The measure, as proposed by ICAO, would apply to all new aircraft types certificated after 1 January 2020. All aircraft currently under production would be expected to comply after 2023, but only if they undergo modifications that require re-certification. All remaining in-production aircraft would have to comply by 2028.

It is calculated using a metric system agreed in 2013 by ICAO’s Committee on Environmental Protection (CAEP). The standard is based on an aircraft’s performance during the cruise phase of flight, expressed in kilograms of fuel per kilometre of flight. This is then adjusted to account for the size of the fuselage.

For each aircraft type, the proposed measure defines a maximum metric value (fuel burn per flight kilometre) that may not be exceeded. It would apply to all commercial jet aircraft, with the exception of very small business jets.

For a global standard to be effective it needs to apply to all aircraft manufacturers, and this requires buy-in from the countries in which those manufacturers are based.

The proposed measure was recommended in early 2016 by the CAEP and adopted in March of this year by the 36-state ICAO Council – which includes aircraft manufacturing nations Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S.

Like Europe, Canada has also begun the regulatory process of adopting the new standard. A Transport Canada spokeswoman says: “The Notice of Proposed Amendment related to the new CO2 standard for airplanes has been drafted and is expected be published for stakeholder consultation in 2018.

“The CO2 standard is expected to come into effect in Canada in time for the 2020 applicability date.”

However, a spokeswoman for the US FAA tells Runway Girl Network that initiating the regulatory process in the United States falls under the remit of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which “has not yet completed the work to publish a rulemaking action”.

“The EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to put into effect or promulgate the aircraft CO2 standard into 40 CFR Part 87. Once that is completed then the FAA can put into effect or promulgate the standard into 14 CFR Part 34,” says the FAA spokeswoman.

An EPA spokesperson confirms to Runway Girl Network that the agency “is developing a proposed CO2 emission standard for commercial aircraft” that is “consistent with the standard adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization”. However, the spokesperson adds that “we do not have a timeline to share at this point”.

Representatives from aviation regulators in other aircraft-manufacturing nations could not immediately be reached for comment on the status of signing the proposed measure into their countries’ laws.

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