David Learmount/LONDON Ramon Lopez/WASHINGTON DC

Consensus on a new Chapter 4 noise standard has been claimed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation's technical advisory group (TAG), but the European Commission (EC) says it is not satisfied with what has emerged.

The TAG says it has agreed that Chapter 4 should be 10dB below current limits, effective from 1 January 2006, and EC officials concur this is "a significant step". They warn, however, that Europe wants agreement on dates for the phasing out, before a final Chapter 4 deadline, of aircraft which only meet Chapter 3 requirements by a marginal 5dB. This applies to hushkitted former Chapter 2 aircraft and earlier widebodies.

It also wants an agreement on a programme for upgrading Chapter 3 aircraft to Chapter 4 standards, which the USA does not want to consider at this stage.

EC officials say the US contingent at the TAG wants a framework agreement forcing airports to consider all other ways of reducing noise nuisance before they act individually or regionally to ban noisier Chapter 3 aircraft. These include methods such as land use planning, noise insulation, land acquisition and changes to operating procedures. Europe points out that airports already do this.

The crux will come at the ICAO Council meeting in June and the Assembly at the end of September, but at the moment the two sides of the Atlantic are poles apart on aircraft noise, the EC admits, saying that mediation by the ICAO's director general is the best hope of reaching a workable solution.

Chairman of the Coalition for a Global Standard on Aviation Noise Gerald Baliles says: "As the ICAO process moves toward its conclusion this year, the question for the manufacturing and airline industries becomes whether they will be willing to submit to a patchwork of individual airport actions, unguided by any international standards or framework elements, or whether they would prefer an ICAO-adopted international framework of basic standards for airports wishing to apply some of these additional measures."

Source: Flight International