Europe is to replace its controversial hushkit non-addition rule with legislation allowing individual airports to introduce operating restrictions aimed at phasing out marginally compliant Chapter 3 aircraft. The move comes as the European Union (EU) resolves its long-running disagreement with the USA concerning banning the addition of hushkitted aircraft from April.

A "balanced approach" to noise reduction was agreed at last month's assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The noise resolution adopted by the ICAO was intended to defuse the US/EU row.

The new directive drawn up by the European Commission (EC) will allow "noise-sensitive" airports to introduce the operating restrictions if such measures are shown to be the only realistic option for reducing noise. Two years after the directive comes into force, an airport will be able to ban operators from introducing new services using hushkitted aircraft. A year later, airlines will have to begin reducing operations with marginally compliant aircraft. Operators may be required to remove aircraft from the marginally compliant fleet at that airport at a maximum rate of 20% a year.

The EC directive appears to adhere to guidelines adopted at the ICAO assembly, which urge states to adopt local operating restrictions only where supported by an assessment of the benefits and costs, and after fully assessing available measures to reduce noise. They are also being encouraged to use partial restrictions where possible.

The European Parliament will consider the new directive from January, with the aim of adopting the legislation to replace the non-addition rule by 1 April. It is expected to come into force by next June, with some noise-sensitive airports being able to ban the addition of marginal Chapter 3 aircraft from June 2004, and to enforce the withdrawal of aircraft from June 2005.

Source: Flight International