Introducing tighter regulations could force up to 150 aircraft into early retirement,airline associationestimates

Major European airports are expected to finally be given the go-ahead to restrict noisier aircraft later this year following the European Commission's (EC) abortive attempt to ban hushkitted aircraft as part of last April's implementation of International Civil Aviation Organisation Chapter 3 noise standards.

The Association of European Airlines (AEA) predicts the introduction of noise reductions of up to 5dB compared with Chapter 3 standards, well ahead of any planned Chapter 4 implementation, will lead to up to 150 aircraft being retired early from European fleets. The EC is working on a proposal to take to the International Civil Aviation Organisation on Chapter 4 regulations, and could recommend an accumulated reduction of 14dB.

Last March, the EC was forced to pass an emergency amendment to its hushkit regulation to avoid retaliatory measures by the USA. In place of a ban on all aircraft within 8dB of Chapter 3 limits, the directive permits individual airports to limit noise by whatever means necessary, including locally banning aircraft within 5dB of Chapter 3 limits.

The new directive will come into force by September, and the AEA expects the first airports to start implementing the measures by the end of the year. Brussels has long made it plain that it wants such aircraft phased out before 2006 and a ruling by ICAO gives individual airports decision-making power, provided they have tried to curtail noise nuisance by all other reasonable means.

Le Thi Mai, AEA general manager infrastructure and the environment, says around 20% of operations at some major hub airports could fall within the new noise level restrictions. "The major airports come under a lot of pressure from their neighbours to reduce noise and so are likely to implement the new restrictions," she says. The impact will be less disruptive than it would first appear, however, as many European airlines have already grounded older aircraft, and aircraft and engine manufacturers are anticipating that Chapter 4 will require reductions of at least 10dB.

Source: Flight International