When the European Union (EU) banned the addition of Chapter 3 hushkitted aircraft to the region's airline fleets, it hoped to push the USA into backing new, lower noise limits. Instead, the ban was interpreted as a trade barrier and a challenge to the existing global standard.

Now, more than 50 of the world's airlines have joined forces with aircraft and engine manufacturers, airports and pilots' unions to push for the development of a single global standard for noise reduction. They are motivated by fears that failure to reach a global agreement on lower noise limits will fragment the framework of international standards that has enabled the rapid, safe growth of air transport over the past 50 years.

The Coalition for a Global Standard on Aviation Noise will work to forge a consensus that will enable the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to adopt a feasible and effective Chapter 4 noise standard in September 2001, says chairman Gerald Baliles. "The failure of ICAO to adapt Chapter 4 would put at risk the stability of the entire aviation system," he says.

Daunting task

The Coalition's task looks daunting. The US-EU dispute over Chapter 3 hushkits has polarised political opinion, while the Chapter 4 stringency options identified by ICAO's Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection have failed to unite the industry. Now ICAO finds itself trying to resolve the dispute as it works to develop a new global standard.

"Without a consensus, ICAO cannot operate," says Baliles, who warns: "The number one issue facing aviation today is -the proliferation of local and regional noise regulations that will literally destroy the network of aviation services we have become so reliant on."

Coalition members, which include all major North and South American carriers and a growing number of European, Asian and African airlines, have signed up to support three principles, says Baliles - preservation of a single global noise standard, protection of airline investment in Chapter 3 aircraft, and development of an effective and technically feasible Chapter 4 standard.

Source: Flight International