Kevin O'Toole/LONDON

THE AIRLINE industry has won a reprieve from the threat of a stringent new set of noise and emission controls, which risked wiping billions of dollars off the value of the world fleet.

The immediate threat receded as the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), the environmental arm of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), emerged from ten days of discussions on 15 December with a recommendation to retain existing noise standards.

A definitive decision on changes to existing standards on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions will also now be postponed until a meeting of the ICAO Council in mid-1996.

The CAEP recommendations received a broad welcome from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has been lobbying hard against any hurried decisions on costly new environmental rules.

It had calculated that adoption of the most stringent proposals being put in front of CAEP, which would essentially have amounted to a Chapter 4 noise regulation, could have cost the airline industry as much as $50 billion (Flight International, 30 June, 1995).

IATA argues that current technology could only offer "minimal environmental benefit at disproportionate cost". It adds that the scientific case for the benefits of NOx reduction, in particular, has yet to be proved.

"IATA's policy is that there is no justification on environmental, technical or economic grounds, to increase stringency at this time," says IATA director-general Pierre Jeanniot, adding that "...much more work needs to be done".

The Association admits, however, that pressure for tighter noise and emission controls will remain on the agenda, with the threat of regional legislation within Europe or the USA a potentially more damaging possibility.

Source: Flight International