Julian Moxon/Paris

The 36-member European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) has recommended action to prevent airlines hushkitting older, noisy aircraft to meet the Stage 3 noise rules.

In a decision taken on 3 July, which is likely to be similar to that expected from the European Commission (EC) in its own forthcoming noise ruling, the ECAC - the European arm of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) - found that hushkitted aircraft which meet the minimum standards only of the Stage 3 rules "-have a disproportionate effect on the noise burden around airports". It says that it "-intends to limit the addition of such aircraft to the ECAC fleet after 1 April, 1999". The body is concerned that, while aircraft originally manufactured to meet Stage 3 rules are well within the legislation, those which are hushkitted "-only just scrape in", according to an ECAC source.

The recommendation, which is not legally binding, has yet to be approved by the ECAC civil-aviation-authority director-generals, but they are understood to have agreed in principle to the move. A meeting in December is expected to approve a "non-addition" law, under which ECAC airlines will not be allowed to add to their registers aircraft, originally certificated under Stage 2 noise rules, which have been upgraded with hushkits to meet Stage 3 regulations.

The recommendations follow ICAO Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 definitions, applying only to aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of 34,000kg or more, or with more than 20 seats, and to aircraft with engines having a bypass ratio of less than three.

The European Union intends to issue a draft directive on noise regulations by the end of July. The directive itself is likely to become law in 1998.

Source: Flight International