The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday proposed new regulations to stem aircraft emissions. EPA’s proposal would adopt emissions standards from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from new aircraft by 4 percent over 12 years.
According to the EPA, the proposed standards would harmonize with the international standards and provide global consistency, ensuring all the world’s manufacturers meet the same standards.
The proposed rule, if adopted, would help U.S. manufactured airplanes and airplane engines be accepted by nations and airlines around the world, since nations may ban the use of any airplane within their airspace that does not meet ICAO standards.
Also, if the EPA were to adopt no standards or standards that were not as stringent as ICAO’s standards, U.S. airplane manufacturers could be forced to seek CO2 emissions certification from an aviation certification authority of another country (rather than the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)) in order to market their airplanes for international operation.
Aircraft that are covered proposal are subsonic jets with a maximum takeoff mass (MTOM) greater than 5,700 kilograms and subsonic propeller driven airplanes (e.g., turboprops) with a MTOM greater than 8,618 kilograms. Examples of aircraft types covered by the international aircraft CO2 standard include larger business jets such as the Cessna Citation CJ3+, the larger commercial jet aircraft – the Boeing 777 and the Boeing 787, and larger civil turboprop airplanes such as the ATR 72 and the de Havilland Dash 8.
The proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) standards would apply to new type design airplanes on or after January 1, 2020 and to in-production airplanes on or after January 1, 2028. They would not apply to already manufactured airplanes that are currently in-use. New type design airplanes are newly developed airplane designs that have not previously been type certificated by the FAA and are not yet being built or flown.
In-production airplanes are new airplanes with designs that have already been type certificated by FAA and are already in production, and these airplanes will continue to be produced and sold after the effective date of the standards.
The EPA and FAA have long cooperated in regulating airplane emissions, by first helping ICAO develop international emission standards and then issuing rules under Clean Air Act (CAA) to establish domestic standards and ensure compliance with the standards.
The U.S. transportation sector is a significant contributor to total U.S. anthropogenic GHG emissions. Aircraft remain the single largest GHG-emitting transportation source not yet subject to GHG standards in the U.S.
U.S. aircraft covered by the proposed rule emit 10 percent of GHG emissions from the transportation sector in the U.S.; and 3 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions.
Critics say that the EPA standards would do little to improve emissions as they mirror advancements the industry is already making.
In 2017, ICAO adopted the first-ever international standards to regulate CO2
emissions from airplanes.
The EPA’s CO2 standard for aircraft is a major step forward for protecting the environment and supporting sustainable growth of commercial aviation and the United States economy.
Aircraft operators need certainty that their new airplanes will be certified to the International Civil Aviation Organization CO2 requirements. The aviation industry has increased fuel efficiency by 50% since 1990, and this regulation will help ensure airplane manufacturers continue to advance technology for greater fuel efficiency.
These efforts are part of the industry’s strategy to cut net global aviation emissions to half of what they were in 2005 by 2050. Aviation is one of only two industrial sectors that have global CO2 goals and standards to meet them, underscoring our steadfast commitment to our communities and planet.
Airlines for America Response
Airlines for America (A4A) applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to adopt the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions standard for future aircraft.
The rigorous global standard, which was the culmination of six years of rigorous assessment by government, environmental and industry experts, was agreed to by the Governing Council of ICAO in 2016 and endorsed by all ICAO Member States for codification as an international standard in early 2017.
Adoption of the internationally agreed aircraft certification standard is also critical to further enable U.S. aviation, as U.S. aircraft manufacturers need to have their aircraft certified to the standard to be able to sell their aircraft in the international market and for U.S. airlines to be able to deploy those aircraft in international service.
“EPA’s proposal to adopt ICAO’s fuel efficiency and CO2 certification standard for newly manufactured aircraft is good for our industry, for our country and for the world,” said Nancy Young, A4A Vice President, Environmental Affairs. “Although the U.S. airlines are already driven to be highly fuel- and carbon-efficient, this stringent new emissions standard will help U.S. airlines make a green industry even greener.”