Julian Moxon/PARIS

The European Union (EU) is on a collision course with the USA over noise regulations after the European Parliament voted on 30 March for a proposed ban to go ahead on limiting the operation of hushkitted aircraft.

Last-minute talks between senior European and US officials failed to reach a new compromise, resulting in the Parliament endorsing the European Council's April 1999 ruling banning hushkitted aircraft from being imported on to the register of European Union (EU) member states from 4 May. Hushkitted aircraft registered in non-EU countries will be allowed into the EU up to April 2002 - but only if they were already operating into the area at 4 May, 2000.

A further suspension of the ban, which was put on hold for a year pending discussions with the USA on new Stage 4 regulations, would be "totally unacceptable", says the Parliament.

In its resolution, the Parliament said it would consider a "limited review" of its ruling on hushkitted aircraft registered in third countries, which are to be banned from April 2002. This, however, is only "on condition that the US Administration makes a written, binding commitment, including a timetable not exceeding the end of 2001, to attain worldwide [noise-reduction] standards similar to or more stringent than those laid down in the [original] ruling".

The USA has instituted an arbitration procedure with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) questioning the legal basis for EU action. The European Parliament has asked it to withdraw this "pending a global agreement". It says it wants the USA to take a "constructive approach" to negotiating a new noise standard.

The European proposals have drawn the threat from US Congress of a ban of British Airways and Air France Concorde services to the USA. Washington claims the plan does little to reduce noise and is aimed at damaging the US hushkitting industry and the value of older airliners.

The Parliament says that the ICAO Stage 3 noise standards have not been updated since 1977, adding that "it seems unlikely that the progress made so far will, in the foreseeable future, lead to a global agreement at international level" on tougher noise standards. So the hushkit ban is "the only means to prevent a deterioration in the overall noise situation in the EU".

Source: Flight International