Transatlantic Plan to Cut Aircraft Emissions Lifts Off

LE BOURGET, France, June 18, 2007 (ENS) - Over the roar of planes at the Paris Air Show here, U.S. and European Union officials today announced a joint action plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft.

In the presence of aircraft industry representatives, European Commission vice president responsible for transport Jacques Barrot and Marion Blakey, administrator of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, launched a emissions and noise reduction policy called AIRE.

"The future of the aviation industry depends on its ability to combat climate change through innovation and greater efficiency," said Barrot, "and this initiative will enable us to speed up the application of technologies and procedures having a direct impact on greenhouse gas emissions."

AIRE - the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions - is the first large-scale environmental initiative bringing together aviation players from both sides of the Atlantic.

AIRE will make it possible to speed up the application of new technologies and operational procedures which will have a direct impact in the short and medium term on greenhouse gas emissions, the officials said.

An Airbus A380 flies above the crowd at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport. Photo by Alain Gillet.
Blakey said AIRE will be based on "gate to gate" test campaigns and experiments. The tests will make it possible to assess the environmental benefits and operational and technical feasibility of the new measures.

Blakey indicated that AIRE could reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by as much as one million tons per transatlantic flight.

AIRE's new measures include "smooth" or "reduced engine" approaches, which will enable noise and exhaust gas emissions to be reduced during landing.

Experiments already carried out with these approaches at Stockholm, Sweden; Louisville, Kentucky; and Atlanta, Georgia have shown substantial savings in fuel and emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

"Our AIRE initiative is only one part of our three measures to make aviation greener," said Barrot.

"It supplements our proposal to include aviation in the emission rights trading system and the Clean Sky initiative launched by the Commission last week to support the development of the next generation of clean aircraft," he said.

The Commission and the FAA say the industry is behind AIRE, citing the aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing, the operators Air France KLM, SAS, Delta and FEDEX, and providers of aviation navigation services such as IAA of Ireland, LFV of Sweden, and NAV of Portugal.

Air France KLM said in a corporate statement today that it endorses the new AIRE initiative.

Air France KLM would like to take part in evaluating "green routes" between its home bases in Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Schiphol and the North American destinations its airlines serve, in conjunction with the air navigation authorities and services on both continents," the Group said.

"The prime aim of these measures is to guarantee optimum en route flight paths, in complete safety, in order to minimize CO2 emissions on all transatlantic flights."

Air France KLM is investing "between 1.1 and 1.5 billion euros a year from 2007 to 2011 to improve the energy efficiency of its fleet and reduce its fuel consumption, "which is the direct cause of its CO2 emissions, as well as its noise energy levels," the Group stated.

The AIRE initiative fits in with the cooperation protocol signed by the FAA and the Commission to coordinate two major programs on air traffic control modernization, NEXTGEN in the United States and SESAR in Europe.

The initial partnership will be expanded as best practices and new technologies spread in Europe and the United States.

"Following the major success of our open skies agreement, this is further proof that the European Union and the United States benefit from working together in the aviation sector," said Barrot. "We both want a sky open to aircraft but not to emissions."

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.