The Clinton Administration's rejection of the latest European Union (EU) proposals on Stage 3 hushkitted aircraft operations last month has again put the two parties at loggerheads in the long-running dispute.

At a meeting between EU Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio and US Under Secretary of Commerce David Aaron on 28 October, the EU offered to extend next May's deadline by two years. This will affect Stage 3 hushkitted aircraft operations in Europe, says Michel Ayral, air transport director of the European Commission's directorate general for transport. It was the second time the EU had offered to postpone the regulation.

The new offer was tied to Washington's unequivocal commitment to "key dates" for the introduction of even more stringent International Civil Aviation Organisation Stage 4 noise standards.

The EU had hoped that the offer would open the door for dialogue and end the transatlantic skirmish. Aaron insisted at the meeting in Strasbourg, France, that the USA would only accept total withdrawal of the regulation, claiming the ban would cost the US aerospace industry $2 billion.

It had also been hoped that the meeting would produce a joint-declaration with agreed principles for accelerated development of Stage 4 standards and appropriate protection for the Stage 3 hushkitted fleet. The White House says it will agree to a new international noise standard "as soon as possible", certainly by September 2001.

Ayral says the US position remains unacceptable for "political reasons" and insists on retaining a deadline should ICAO stumble in reaching Stage 4 noise rules. The issue will not be resolved while the USA insists on the withdrawal of the regulation, he says.

The USA and EU agreed that discussions would continue "in search of a solution that fits with the objectives of both parties".

Source: Flight International