Airports seek environmental initiatives as FAA reauthorization stalls

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Airport pilot programs and environmentally tailored research and development funding are among the provisions tucked into US FAA reauthorization legislation.

While US FAA reauthorization remains questionable this year - a house version of the bill passed but its senate counterpart failed again last week - environmental projects could be included in future initiatives.

If reauthorization remains in limbo, the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) will continue to promote the inclusion of airport environmental issues in other legislation, ACI executive VP policy and external affairs Deborah McElroy says.

Both House and Senate reauthorization proposals allow airports to use Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding to review flight procedures used in noise abatement programs. The House version specifies that airports may also use AIP money to hire staff or consultants to conduct such reviews.

The House and Senate also allocate funding for the development of continuous lower energy, emissions and noise (CLEEN) engine and airframe technology.

In its reauthorization bill, which allocates $111 million to CLEEN, the House stipulates that certain research goals should be met by 30 September 2015 including increasing aircraft fuel efficiency by 25% relative to 1997 technology, and developing certifiable engine technology that reduces landing and takeoff cycle nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 50% from 2004 ICAO standards without increasing other emissions.

Other goals in the House version include developing certifiable aircraft technology that reduces noise levels by 10 decibels at each of the three certification points relative to 1997 technology, determining the feasibility of alternative fuels in aircraft systems and determining the extent to which new engine and aircraft technologies may be used to retrofit aircraft.

Both House and Senate reauthorization bills allow FAA to fund projects at public-use airports that “reduce or mitigate aviation impacts on noise, air quality, or water quality in the vicinity of the airport”.

The House specifies six such projects could be funded, with each project eligible for up to $2.5 million.

Additionally, the House bill allows FAA to test air traffic flow at up to five public-use airports so that air traffic controllers can better manage the flow of aircraft on the ground and reduce the length of ground holds and idling time for aircraft. Each project would be eligible for up to $5 million in funding.


Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news