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FAA Begins Targeting Aircraft Emissions

Does the rule, aimed at larger commercial and business aircraft, set the stage for stiffer light plane regs?

FAA Begins Targeting Aircraft Emissions

The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a rule that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions among turbine-powered aircraft via new certification standards as of January 2028, should the rule be made into law. The proposal, which is open for public comment until August 15, will bring the US-manufactured airplanes in-line with the ICAO standard.

Aircraft below about 12,500 lbs (the dividing line between “small aircraft” and larger, transport models, would be excluded from the proposal, and the agency also specifically stated that the rule was targeting subsonic commercial and business aircraft, which is a bit of an odd distinction to make, as there are no supersonic business or commercial aircraft in service. The agency stated that civil aircraft were responsible for 10 percent of domestic transportation emissions and 3 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, prior to the pandemic.

The good news for GA, at least for now, is that our niche doesn’t seem to be a big enough emissions offender to bother going after. While the conversation around lead-free avgas seems to be the dominant discussion for improved emissions in piston-powered GA fleet, it has so far remained only a discussion despite the valiant efforts of a few. Given the sheer size and volume of the commercial fleet of airliners, cargo carriers, and bizjets in the US, it makes sense that the FAA will focus near-term legislative efforts on those segments of aviation.

Having said that, the FAA has a sizable volume of “conversation” on its site about taking the lead out of avgas, and states “there are approximately 167,000 aircraft in the United States and a total of 230,000 aircraft worldwide that rely on 100 low lead avgas for safe operation.”

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