Aviation

Is ICAO considering tougher emission standards for aircraft?

The 41st Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will be held from September 27 to October 7 later this year. The UN body is generally expected to adopt a set of emission targets and guidelines for the industry. Given the alarming rate at which the planet is heating up and the contribution of anthropogenic CO2 and other greenhouse gases to the process, UN experts are reportedly seeking to tighten emission standards for commercial aircraft again.


If this happens, it will increase the pressure on OEMs to develop new aircraft models earlier than previously planned. The last time ICAO adopted new emission standards was in 2017. They are valid for new aircraft models from 2020, but still allow older types that do not meet the standard to remain in production until 2028 (unless banned).

However, this was reported by sources close to the case Reuters that the ICAO Aviation Environment Committee (CAEP) agreed on Thursday to begin developing new and even stricter standards for civil aircraft. This will be part of a broader effort to be completed in 2025, updating the rules for both noise and emissions.

It is reported that tougher standards were supported, in particular, by experts from the US and Europe during a virtual meeting of the working group earlier this week. Meanwhile, CAEP also conducted research on the environment and noise of the next renaissance for supersonic flight and airplane.

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ICAO’s environmental department is also studying the impact of future supersonic aircraft. Photo: Boom Supersonic

Finding a consensus that is time consuming

ICAO is not a separate decision-making body. It includes 193 member states, to be exact. It goes without saying that such a bureaucratic pursuit of consensus does not happen overnight. The development of new standards will not only take years, but will require support from a number of countries before they can be agreed.

Meanwhile, they will put more pressure on OEMs to accelerate the development of new aircraft and abandon old models that are still in production. Earlier, Boeing said it could request an exception for its popularity 767-300F from the existing schedule for 2028.

Airbus A380, Emirates, supplies

China wanted a different goal than the one adopted by IATA. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Different views on the timing of carbon neutrality

ICAO it is generally believed that during the assembly at the end of this year adopts a long-term target declaration “clean zero to …”. Although the aviation industry has largely agreed on 2050 as a target, the process of getting ICAO members to support that date is not easy.

When IATA has announced its goal to go to zero until the middle of the century last October it was only because it ignored mainland China’s carriers who wanted to stick to Xi Jinping’s 2060 carbon deadline. This may indicate that China wants to dictate its own decarbonisation agenda, will be reflected in ICAO discussions and the results of the 41st Assembly this fall.

What do you want to see from ICAO after the 41st Assembly? What do you see as some of the potential pitfalls in creating a shared vision of civil aviation and the world’s sustainability goals? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.


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