Unanimous adoption by ICAO Council paves way for introduction of new aircraft CO2 emissions standard
Mon 6 Mar 2017 – The ICAO Council unanimously adopted on Friday (Mar 3) the Aeroplane Carbon Dioxide Emissions Certification Standard that was recommended last year by ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP). After seven years of development, the new standard is part of the ICAO ‘basket of measures’ to reduce aviation emissions and is intended to encourage more fuel-efficient technologies into aeroplane design, covering propulsion, aerodynamics and structures. It has been criticised in some quarters for its lack of stringency as a result of being too heavily industry-driven, but is claimed to be the first global technology standard covering CO2 emissions for any sector. Current ICAO Annex 16 Standards include aircraft noise (Volume I) and engine emissions in respect of local air quality (Volume II), and the new CO2 standard is expected to become applicable as Volume III during the latter part of this year.
The standard applies to subsonic jet aircraft over 5,700kg and propeller-driven aircraft over 8,618kg. It is said to be most stringent for commercial aircraft with a maximum take-off mass (MTOM) of greater than 60 tonnes (typically single-aisle 737/A320 families and larger), which account for more than 90% of international aviation emissions, and will apply to new type (NT) designs from 2020. It will also apply to in-production (InP) aircraft from 2023 that are modified and meet a specific change criteria. This is subsequently followed up by a production cut-off in 2028, which means that InP aircraft that do not meet the standard can no longer be produced beyond 2028 unless the designs are modified to comply with the standard.
According to an article in the ICAO Environmental Report 2016 by Stephen Arrowsmith of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Laszlo Windhoffer of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), fully understanding the contribution of the standard to reducing CO2 emissions from international aviation is complex due to potential unknown market-driven responses to the regulation.
“However, it is clear that the new standard will have direct effects by increasing the importance of fuel efficiency in the design process such that an aeroplane type not just meets the regulatory limit but also has good relative product positioning in terms of a margin to the limit,” they wrote.
According to an analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) after CAEP reached agreement at its meeting in February 2016 (CAEP/10), the standard will on average require a 4% reduction in the cruise fuel consumption of new aircraft starting in 2028 compared to 2015 deliveries, with the actual reductions ranging from 0 to 11%, depending on the MTOM of the aircraft.
Like other safety and environmental requirements, the CO2 standard will be implemented as a new requirement under each National Aviation Authority’s (NAA) aircraft type certification system. The standard will be enforced via a production cut-off for new InP aircraft starting in 2028 when non-compliant models will not be certified for sale in the jurisdiction area of the certification body, for example EASA in Europe and FAA in the USA. In the event that a future aircraft design is less efficient than current new types and therefore fails the standard, it would not be allowed to be type certified and sold internationally, said ICCT.
During the intervening year since CAEP/10, the standard has undergone consultation with ICAO’s 191 Member States and now it has been adopted by ICAO’s 36-State governing Council, it must be implemented by all States under domestic legislation. Those countries with certifying bodies, such as FAA in the US and EASA in Europe, may adopt this standard or impose tighter restrictions on CO2 emissions from aircraft if the standard is deemed to be insufficient, points out ICCT.
Eyes will be on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Endangerment Finding and Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on aviation greenhouse gas emissions (see article), which signaled the agency’s intent to adopt the ICAO CO2 standard provided it is considered consistent with the goal of requiring additional fuel efficiency improvements from domestic aircraft. However, this has now to be seen in the context of the new US Administration’s plans for the EPA, with rumours of savage cuts in the agency and a reining back of CO2 regulatory powers.