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EU To Tighten Aviation Noise Rules

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

11 June 2012

The Council of the European Union has adopted proposals to redraft rules relating to noise levels at European airports, as part of the economic bloc's 'Better Airports' initiative.

The Better Airports programme was adopted by the Commission on December 1, 2011, and included other proposals related to groundhandling (adopted by the Council on March 22, 2012) and airport slots.

Welcoming the Council's decision, Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice-President in charge of transport, said: "Transport ministers have been able to reach a general approach on this politically sensitive issue which is an important step. Decisions on noise restrictions will remain clearly for member states, but I am also conscious of the impact of restrictions on the aviation network. So we have to ensure a process which is fair and which respects international rules."

Under the proposals:

  • New rules will more clearly identify all actors in the noise assessment process with their respective rights and obligations. Citizens living in the vicinity of an airport will become involved in the noise assessment process and will be formally consulted before an authority decides on an operating restriction;
  • Competent authorities should be able to focus on the noisiest aircraft of the fleet (the so-called 'marginally compliant aircraft') and phase them out first, instead of introducing general night flight bans, which would also affect aircraft operators which have been investing in quieter aircraft. Transport ministers have accepted a more stringent definition of such 'marginally compliant aircraft', with step-by-step implementation towards greater stringency;
  • To ensure progress is achieved, the Commission will have a right to review the quality of the decision-making process to ensure that all steps in the process have been respected, in line with international commitments; and lastly,
  • The Commission will be empowered to update the noise standards in view of international developments within the International Civil Aviation Organization, the UN body for international civil aviation responsible for setting noise standards for aircraft.

TAGS: aviation

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