The European Union is prepared to compromise in its row with the USA over hushkitted aircraft - but only if Washington commits to "key dates" for the introduction of even more stringent noise rules than planned.

The EU is under pressure to push back the May 2000 deadline by which aircraft must be Stage 3 compliant to operate in European airspace beyond the 2002 general ban. It has already put the cut-off date back by a year. A further compromise would require the USA to commit to accelerating the introduction of Stage 4 noise standards.

EU-US talks are continuing, with a 31 October meeting set to draft an agreement in principle on developing a new Stage 4 standard. A transitional plan for its implementation - including interim protection for the existing Stage 3 fleet, is also to be drafted. The White House has assured the EU that it will agree a new International Civil Aviation Organisation standard "as soon as possible, and in any event by September 2001".

Should a deal be struck, fresh legislation will be needed to delay the EU compliancy deadline.

Source: Flight International