Ramon Lopez/WASHINGTON DC Julian Moxon/PARIS
The US House of Representatives is expected to vote to join the US Senate in adopting a resolution pressuring the Clinton Administration to complain to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) about European Commission policy on hushkits. ICAO would then rule on whether that policy complies with international standards.
The House transportation panel says the EC's "offensive" regulation has no "scientific basis" and "has been carefully crafted to protect European aviation interests while imposing arbitrary, substantial, and unfounded cost burdens on US aeronautical industries".
The transportation committee's attack follows an onslaught from the House aviation subcommittee, after which the EC indicated that it was "prepared to be flexible" - but only if there is progress on introducing a new international noise standard.
The EC reports to the European Council of Ministers on the state of negotiations on 6 October, and says that, while it is "optimistic", it will "stick to the principle" of the hushkit regulation, which takes effect next May after being delayed for a year following earlier US objections. In return, the USA said it would join with the EC to speed implementation of stricter noise regulations through ICAO.
The new rule outlaws the operation in Europe after April 2002 of airliners hushkitted to Stage 3 standards after next May's cut-off. The EC claims the USA has overestimated the impact of the hushkit law, and points out that it "requires only a freeze", rather than a ban.
US legislators have demanded retaliatory measures including a ban on Concorde flights to the USA, a complaint to the World Trade Organisation and legal action. The White House wants a negotiated solution and is working with the EC on a joint declaration hastening the transition to a new Stage 4 standard.
Source: Flight International