The long-term costs associated with environmental legislation could be “detrimental” to the business aviation community, according to Bob Shuter, chairman of IBAC’s environmental issues work group, and a member of Tuesday’s panel session, “Aviation and the Environment, Where Now?”
In particular, owners and operators should be concerned with the high cost of meeting environmental standards; the phase-out of older aircraft that don’t meet those standards; operational restrictions; a disproportionate burden on aviation and certain types of aircraft; and an ongoing, never-ending demand for cleaner, quieter and more efficient aircraft.
“In dealing with environmental issues, we move away from what is logical and technical,” Shuter said. “In many cases, positions are based on politics, on what’s best for one particular member state.” For that reason, the industry needs to find opportunities to market itself and the good work it does, he said. “We’re not sitting around with our heads in the sand, but even so, the next few years are going to be very challenging.”
The main challenge, he said, will be developing an environmental blueprint for the industry that is not only beneficial, but technically achievable, cost-effective and devoid of interdependency concerns.
An example of an interdependency concern is the fact that many fuel-efficient airplanes, such as turboprops, violate noise ordinances. Similarly, more fuel-efficient aircraft (with lower CO2 emissions) can actually cause an increase in NOx emissions. “The combined cost of trying to address each of these issues could be detrimental,” Shuter said. “Each costs a little bit, but it adds up to a large cost.”
The possible phase-out of older, noncompliant aircraft will also affect long-term costs, Shuter said. Owners and operators will either have to send their older models back to the manufacturer to have the necessary changes made, or they will have to buy a new, environmentally compliant aircraft. There is also the possibility that the owners will not be able to sell the older model, if there’s no way to make the aircraft compliant with environmental legislation.
“There is a real concern about phase-outs,” Shuter said. “The costs would be extremely high.”
The upcoming European Union emissions trading scheme is also a concern and “a bit of a mess,” according to EBAA president and CEO Brian Humphries. “We really want common sense to prevail,” he said. “More than 98 percent of the effort is going into 2 percent of the problem. And it’s not that we don’t want to do our bit–we want to play our part. But we want to get the job done affordably, efficiently, and appropriately.”
The business aviation community has a “fantastic record,” he said, adding that it has worked harder than anyone else in the industry.