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September 30, 2008
Aviation is a global industry, and climate change is a global problem. However, while business aviation provides significant economic benefit on an international scale, it is responsible for only a fraction of the transportation sector emissions contributing to climate change.
NBAA recognizes that to foster the worldwide growth of business aviation, it has a social and business responsibility to address environmental issues and develop an environmental strategy on behalf of its Membership. NBAA resolves to be a leader in addressing environmental issues, establishing environmental best practices for its Members and increasing the environmental credibility of business aviation.
NBAA will continue to partner with aviation industry stakeholders to develop guidelines to help limit or reduce environmental impacts from business aviation activities, specifically aircraft noise and fuel emissions that may affect local air quality and global climate change.
Summary of Past Action
Since the late 1960s, NBAA has been actively engaged in reducing business aircraft noise emissions through efforts such as is Noise Abatement Program. More recently, the Association has promoted environmental protection and fuel efficiency through its involvement in industry work groups and government initiatives.
Specifically, NBAA has addressed global environmental issues through its participation on the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (ICAO CAEP) as an International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) representative, and it has addressed domestic environmental issues through its participation on the U.S. Joint Programs Development Office’s (JPDO) Next Generation (“Next Gen”) initiative.
Most recently, NBAA has created an Environmental Issues (EI) Focus Group composed of both staff members and external stakeholders (representing both industry groups and aircraft/engine manufacturers) to develop specific guidance for its Members and the industry.
NBAA Environmental Issues Background
NBAA Action on Environmental Issues to Date
Since the late 1960s, NBAA has been actively engaged in discussions at the regulatory and local community levels to develop policy to mitigate concerns about business aircraft noise emissions. The Association’s Noise Abatement Program was launched in 1967 and is still widely known and supported by the business aviation industry today as a standard for all operations where aircraft manufacturers have not recommended specific procedures.
Aircraft noise emissions issues currently are well understood, with many industry programs already put in place by NBAA, manufacturers and airports to promote noise abatement and reduce community exposure to aircraft noise. In addition to NBAA’s Noise Abatement Program, the Association promotes “quiet flying” by business aircraft operators through materials such as its Airports Handbook.
NBAA also has existing resolutions in place that recommend the phase-out of Stage 1 aircraft by 2005; recommend the phase-out of Stage 2 aircraft consistent with the pending FAA Reauthorization legislation and support the transformation of Stage 2 aircraft to Stage 3 via technology upgrades and modifications; and support ICAO’s stringent noise standards for Stage 3.
Additionally, since 1999, NBAA has partnered with ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (ICAO CAEP) as an IBAC representative to address at a global level the issues of noise and fuel emissions and how they may affect local air quality and climate change. The CAEP provides opportunities for enhancing global environmental protection by sharing expertise, resources and data in an international forum.
Since 2006, NBAA also has partnered with the U.S. JPDO to help develop design and implementation strategies for the FAA’s Next Generation Air Traffic System, which will introduce new technologies that will promote fuel efficiencies. Next Gen success will result in preventing or reducing significant environmental impacts – especially as aircraft noise and local air quality emission concerns remain strong constraints on system capacity – while proactively addressing other important environmental issues, such as water quality, energy use, global climate change and protection of noise sensitive areas.
More information about aviation emissions is available than ever before, which puts NBAA in a better position to deliver relevant information to its Members and suggest activities to reduce aviation emissions.
Most recently, NBAA has created an EI Focus Group composed of both staff members and external stakeholders (representing both industry groups and aircraft/engine manufacturers) to develop future guidance for its Members and the industry. (EI Focus Group members are listed later in this document.)
Aviation Emissions and Their Effects
The science on aviation fuel emissions and its effect on local air quality and climate change is complex, with far-reaching implications on a global level, but until more recently, statistics about aviation emissions and their effects were not widely known or well understood.
Because of uncertainties surrounding aircraft emissions, a special report on Aviation and the Global Atmosphere was published in 1999 by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIPCC), which found that air transport contributes to 2 percent of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, and up to 3.5 percent of the total human-induced radiative forcing of climate change. (Simply put, the concept of radiative forcing has been used as a tool to analyze changes in the earth’s surface temperature.) According to the UNIPCC study, the latter statistic is subject to uncertainties and may continue to evolve.
In the immediate vicinity of airports, emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) 7, carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter (PM) 8 are considered contributors to local air quality concerns. Each of these is thought to have potentially hazardous health effects at defined ambient concentrations. The contribution by aviation of other, minor trace species – such as sulphur dioxide (SO2), hydroxyl radicals, nitrous and nitric acids – still requires a better understanding but is currently believed to be negligible.
Emissions of NOx and VOCs play a role in the formation of ground-level ozone through a chemical reaction with oxygen in the presence of sunlight. Studies have linked NOx and ground-level ozone, the major component of smog, to increased respiratory problems among certain sectors of the population. Although the aviation industry has achieved significant reductions in VOCs and CO, for some airports, “odor nuisance” is becoming a common source of complaints by local residents. At a regional level, emissions of NOx, together with SO2, may also contribute to acidification and eutrophication (an increase in chemical nutrients) in ecosystems.
Climate change can be described as the perturbation of the earth’s energy balance through natural or manmade emissions of so-called greenhouse gases, mainly consisting of carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and halocarbons (or “CFCs,” including HCF, PCF and SF6). According to experts, consequences of climate change could include changes in global average surface temperatures (commonly referred to as global warming), local changes in average precipitation or the frequency and intensity of heat waves. Many scientists agree that human activity over the past 150 years has led to a discernible increase in greenhouse gas emissions, mostly in the form of CO2 (about 60 percent).
At present, CO2 emissions from aviation are thought to represent roughly 2 percent of total CO2 emissions arising from the burning of fossil fuels and 13 percent arising from all transport sources. CO2 emissions (like water vapor) are a natural product of fossil fuel combustion and are believed to remain in the atmosphere for more than 100 years. Aircraft emissions of water vapor have been shown to have a positive, albeit insignificant, direct effect on climate change; they add little to the naturally present water vapor concentrations in the troposphere and have a lifetime of only several days.
Aviation Emission Reduction Methods
One focus of aviation efficiency gains is to achieve reduced fuel consumption, which translates to reduced emissions and a reduction in the greenhouse gases that have a direct effect on climate change. General aviation, which includes business aviation, is a relatively small contributor to greenhouse gases, with .6 to .8 percent of the air transportation total. Nevertheless, aviation as a whole has made great strides in using advanced technology to achieve efficiency gains and the accompanying emissions reductions.
All cost-effective means to improve air transport growth and environmental protection should be explored and implemented, including improvements to:Technology Operating procedures Land use management Airport infrastructure and equipment Ground systems Air traffic management
The most significant fuel saving is likely to come from improvements to air traffic management and communications, navigation and surveillance (ATM/CNS) systems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that ATM/CNS enhancements worldwide could lead to possible savings of between 6 and 12 percent in fuel use and CO2 emissions. In addition, other possible operational improvements would lead to a 2 to 6 percent savings, resulting in a possible combined saving of 8 to 18 percent.
Economic incentives such as emission trading schemes are designed to cap and reduce emissions to predetermined targets. While effective as a short-term solution, the trading schemes must participate in an open market, and must consider thresholds to distinguish between high and low utilization activities and the onerous processes potentially proposed with little gains.
In order to realize and preserve the benefits of efforts invested by aircraft and engine manufacturers in the development of emissions reduction technologies (both noise and environmentally friendly designs), it is essential that these efforts be integrated with those of all industry stakeholders, working together in a global system approach, to define globally optimized solutions that take into account all interdependent factors. This requires a permanent productive dialogue and extensive cooperation between stakeholders, such as that currently found on ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection.
The industry’s goal should be to develop a systems approach to emissions management, eventually leading to the management of all environmental aspects, which will require the definition of proper criteria and weight factors and the development of proper methodologies to analyze interdependencies.
NBAA EI Focus Group
NBAA has created an EI focus group composed of both staff members and external stakeholders (representing both industry groups and aircraft/engine manufacturers) to develop specific guidance for its Members and the industry. The goals of this group will include:
- Outlining an environmental issues policy for general aviation
- Developing a mission and vision statement
- Outlining and validating practical short- and long-term steps for operators and manufacturers to implement
- Developing market-based measures on an international scale
- Translating international-level activities to domestic implication and application
- Communicating general aviation’s preferences and initiatives to external audiences
Current EI Focus Group members and their areas of responsibility/focus are:
- Steve Brown – NBAA senior vice president, operations & administration
- Ed Smith – General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) vice president, operations
- Melissa Rudiger, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
- Eli Cotti – NBAA director, technical operations (representing emissions concerns), and NBAA representative on the following industry working groups: IBAC EWIG, ICAO CAEP WG3, JPDO NextGen EWG ExComm
- Jeff Gilley – NBAA director, airports & ground infrastructure (representing noise issues), NBAA Access Committee liaison and NBAA representative on the following industry working groups: IBAC EIWG, ICAO CAEP WG2, JPDO EWG
- Bob Lamond – NBAA director, air traffic services & infrastructure (representing NAS issues), NBAA Access Committee liaison and NBAA representative on the following industry working groups: JPDO NextGen
- Bill Stine – NBAA, director, international operations, and IBAC corporate secretary
- Dr. Fassi Kafyeke – Bombardier Aerospace
- Lorraine Rouisse – Bombardier Aerospace
- Charles Etter – Gulfstream Aerospace
NBAA Evironmental Issues Strategic Action Plan
NBAA’s EI Strategic Action Plan will have two broad goals:To monitor, assess and respond to environmental developments, policies and regulations of concern to NBAA Members To advise and implement strategies to promote NBAA positions among regulatory bodies and stakeholders at local and international levels
Near-term objectives that NBAA proposes to undertake in service to its long-term goals include:Implementing a sustainable management system Creating industry alliances Conducting Member outreach surveys Creating Member outreach products, i.e., “best practices” guidance Implementing Member recognition programs, i.e., public recognition for voluntary participation Developing NBAA Information Sessions Launching a policy campaign Creating an aircraft efficiency index
These items are defined as follows:
Implement a Sustainable Management System
NBAA will utilize a sustainable management system approach to develop and implement an NBAA EI policy, facilitate data collection and exchange, conduct policy/program reviews and ensure continual improvement based on results. NBAA also proposes acquiring additional resources, such as EI consultants, to assist NBAA in developing tools and operational best practices.
Creating Industry Alliances
NBAA will work to build and strengthen industry alliances with the following stakeholders:IBAC members Relevant environmental committees/workgroups within the business aviation community General aviation associations, such as GAMA, AOPA, NATA Other aviation association, such as IATA, ATA
Conducting Member Outreach Surveys
NBAA will conduct Member surveys to learn information such as:What’s currently being done about environmental issues by NBAA Members Existing Member best practices, such as fuel conversion programs, that translate into emission reduction benefits
Creating Member Outreach Products
As a low cost/high yield effort, NBAA will create/recommend EI products for Members, such as:Voluntary operational best practices guidance Dedicated EI web site with links to aviation resources OEM model-specific operating efficiency handbook Reports of ongoing regulatory efforts
Implementing Member Recognition Programs
NBAA will develop an award or other method to publicly recognize Members following a voluntary, measurable EI program. The voluntary program would promote:Operational best practices in the following areas: Flight (performance optimization/fuel conservation programs) Ground Operations (while on the ground and at FBOs) Business/Corporate (office environment) Operating to OEM efficiency and optimization performance standards to achieve: Emission reduction Carbon offsets (reducing carbon footprint, i.e., CO2, NOx emissions Noise abatement (“quiet flying”): NBAA’s Noise Abatement Procedures would be updated to include environmental considerations
Operational best practices/actions can consist of:Flying the most fuel-efficient aircraft type Taxiing via the most fuel-efficient route Flying the most fuel-efficient routing Operating at the most fuel-efficient speed Operating at the most economical altitude Maximizing the aircraft’s CG and load factor Loading the minimum fuel to safely complete the flight Maintaining clean and efficient airframes and engines Ensuring the efficient use of aircraft power generation units, towing equipment, etc. at FBOs (develop FBO best practices in coordination with NATA)
Note: Four major factors restrict operational decisions or procedures: safety, legal constraints, environmental trade-offs and specific situations. Operational opportunities and techniques can only be considered in the context of airport and air traffic constraints, operational requirements and individual circumstances related to a given flight. The overriding consideration should always be that safety standards must not be compromised in the interest of fuel conservation.
Developing NBAA Information Sessions
NBAA will develop Information Session presentations on EI topics for use at NBAA events such as the Annual Meeting & Convention and Regional Forums. To provide supporting data for such presentations, NBAA should develop comparisons of key indicators for environmental issues, such as a list of emissions ratings for various aircraft models, and efficiency vs. consumption comparisons.
Launching a Policy Campaign
NBAA should develop messaging to communicate its stance on EI issues to Members, the public and the media. Message themes could include:“Going green” is both a social responsibility and a strategic imperative for NBAA Members NBAA Members should think globally: Aviation is a global industry Climate change is a global problem A global approach is critical ICAO’s global policies are the answer NBAA Members need to become informed participants in the sustainable aviation discussion NBAA must refute smear campaigns by the commercial airlines, including the notion that the more passengers carried per aircraft, the greener the operations (piting commercial airlines vs. business aviation)
Creating an Aircraft Efficiency Index
NBAA will expand its traditional range formats to include aircraft efficiency performance.