Stage 2 Challenges
NBAA shares its perspective on recent airport noise initiatives
By Jeffrey H. Gilley, Manager, Airports & Ground Infrastructure, NBAA
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) prides itself on its ability to work with communities and airport proprietors to develop reasonable solutions to noise-related problems. Recent local initiatives, however, have required NBAA to take a more adversarial role to preserve business aviation access to the national aviation system.
The federally mandated phase-out of transport
category Stage 2 aircraft in the United States was accomplished effective
December 31, 1999. Stage 2 business jets have now gained visibility as
the only privately owned Stage 2 aircraft operating in the U.S. Even though
many Stage 2 executive jets are quieter (in terms of absolute noise) than
certain Stage 3 transport category aircraft, we have recently seen increased
focus on restricting Stage 2 business jet access by certain noise-sensitive
communities and by certain communities for whom aircraft noise is a political
In recent months, two communities — Los Angeles and Naples, FL — have embarked on concerted efforts to restrict Stage 2 business jet operations. With respect to Los Angeles, which adopted a "non-addition rule" for certain Stage 2 aircraft at Van Nuys Airport (VNY), NBAA and seven other business aviation entities (including the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and the National Air Transportation Association) have filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the legality of the rule and seeking to have it enjoined. With respect to Naples, which has proposed an outright ban on Stage 2 operations effective January 1, 2001, NBAA has filed comments with FAA challenging the methodology and conclusions of the consultants’ report supporting the proposed ban.
THREAT TO THE SYSTEM
Why is the issue of Stage 2 access so important to NBAA? We believe that it is well-recognized in the U.S. that a patchwork quilt of local aviation noise rules would damage the effectiveness and efficiency of the national aviation system. While aviation noise unquestionably has local implications, both environmentally and politically, the issue of access to airports is properly viewed as a national issue, subject to federal standards, particularly since so many airports have received federal grants and subsidies. Moreover, Stage 2 business jets are valuable economic assets, many of which have perhaps as much as 20 years of remaining useful life. For example, there are hundreds of Stage 2 Gulfstream executive jets operating in the U.S.; the combination of mission capabilities and modest prices of these aircraft makes them an important component of the national business aviation fleet.
Prior to 1990, the role of localities in regulating aircraft noise was limited by federal constitutional principles and, at many airports, by federal grant assurances; to the ability of a local airport proprietor to enact only those airport noise and access rules that were reasonable, non-arbitrary, and non-discriminatory; and that would not unduly burden interstate commerce. Any new proposal for local aircraft noise restrictions must still meet these "traditional" standards.
In 1990, Congress enacted the Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA), which had two primary components: (1) A phase-out of all transport category Stage 2 aircraft (i.e., aircraft with maximum weight of greater than 75,000 lbs.) in the U.S. by December 31, 1999; and (2) a requirement that any proposed local action restricting airport access by Stage 2 or Stage 3 aircraft be subject to mandatory federal review. Under the procedures set forth by FAA in its regulations implementing ANCA (49 CFR Part 161), a proposed restriction must, generally speaking, be supported by analyses of a number of issues and alternatives and by a benefit/cost study, and must be made available for public comment. Stage 2 restrictions must be submitted to FAA for review, but FAA approval of the restrictions isn’t required. Stage 3 restrictions, by contrast, can’t be implemented unless FAA reviews and then approves them.
As long as transport category Stage 2 aircraft were permitted to operate in the U.S., airport proprietors seemed unwilling to "test the waters" with proposed Stage 2 restrictions. At Van Nuys and Naples, we see such caution being abandoned, inappropriately.
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