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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System G Draft Plans by the Environmental Integrated Product Team FY 2007 TO 2011 PLANS AND BUDGET REQUIREMENTS FOR DEVELOPMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION THAT ALLOWS SUSTAINED AVIATION GROWTH Background In developing the initial plans, policies, and resource estimates for the environmental portion of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) plan, the following are the initial goals identified by the Environmental Integrated Product Team (EIPT): Reduce the impacts of significant aviation noise to community well-being in absolute terms, notwithstanding the growth in aviation. Reduce the significant local air quality impacts of aviation on local communities in absolute terms, notwithstanding the growth in aviation. Develop the appropriate metrics and models to measure aviation’s environmental impacts for the system of 2025. Gain sufficient knowledge of the particulates and hazardous air pollutants effects of aviation to determine significant impact. Gain sufficient knowledge of climate change effects of aviation to enable appropriate means to mitigate these effects. Reduce significant levels of water runoff from airports to minimize impacts on local community water resources. Foster communication, ideas, and joint action between the EIPT and communities around airports. Facilitate global leadership in developing operational, technology, and policy options to address mobility and environmental needs. Advance capacity growth at the key airports by fostering capabilities and processes to streamline environmental reviews. Ensure standards exist in a timely fashion to enable new operations, such as domestic supersonic flights, space launches, low-altitude reconnaissance, alternative-fuel air vehicles, etc. In assessing the ability to deliver on these outcomes, the EIPT understands that the initial national air transportation system architecture for the system of 2025 proposes an approach that relies on net-centric information services available both nationwide and globally that ensure real-time information flows from a variety of governmental and nongovernmental sources. To achieve threefold capacity growth in the next 20 years, the air traffic system architecture would allow dynamic airspace configuration management and differentiated service levels aligned with user abilities, would rely on management by trajectory, with block-to-block coverage and NAS (National Airspace System)-wide, time-based metering, and would develop superdense operations at selected airports. Critical to achievement of this plan is reducing environmental impacts, especially as aircraft noise and local air quality emission concerns remain strong (and growing) constraints on system capacity. Over the past decade, such issues have caused plans to expand airport capacity to be canceled, delayed, and downscaled. “Air portals”—whatever the eventual number developed in NGATS—will need to deal with the current environmental concerns of the communities surrounding them. Further, depending on ongoing research, additional local air quality and climate change issues could NOTE: This information was provided to the assessment committee by Carl Burleson, Director, Office of Environment and Energy, Federal Aviation Administration, who is head of the Environmental IPT.
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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System surface that pose additional challenges to capacity expansion. Finally, this is not only a commercial aviation issue, as military readiness is also being challenged by restrictions on training and operations. These effects will be exacerbated by aviation growth. Compounding the environmental issues is the fact that aviation has features that distinguish it from other transportation modes and industries. The high premium placed on safety demands the incorporation of only proven and technically sound environmental technologies in aircraft, as well as on the ground (e.g., deicing for aircraft and airport runways). Aircraft are expensive and have a long life span, requiring long lead times for new technologies to be widely incorporated in the fleet and close attention to financial feasibility. Airborne systems must be lightweight and fuel-efficient. Noise, local and regional air quality, and potential climate effects are engendered by an interdependent set of technologies and operations, so that action to reduce impacts in one area (e.g., aircraft engine noise) can increase the impacts in another (e.g., nitrogen oxides emissions). All these factors combine to make it challenging to quickly incorporate new technologies, rapidly change fleets, or manage multiple environmental impacts without trade-offs. Key Uncertainties in NGATS Architecture In developing the environmental roadmap for implementing the draft NGATS architecture, a number of uncertainties remain that will have a large influence on the success of tackling the environmental dimension in delivering the NGATS plan. Some critical ones include: Capacity results. It is uncertain whether the draft architecture will produce the targeted three times growth in capacity of the NGATS endeavor. Further, it is not clear what the definition is for capacity—whether it’s measured in passengers or operations. Both these factors will have a large influence on potential environmental impacts and whether the current plans and initiatives have any prospect of success. Number and location of “air portals.” It is not clear at this juncture whether NGATS will be delivering aircraft in the same airport patterns of today or something vastly different. Will the majority of traffic involve the top 50 airports, or will it spread to hundreds or thousands of air portals? The potential environmental footprint of aviation—and hence the investments required to shrink that footprint—will be vastly different depending on this number. Required environmental performance. It remains to be developed how to work in the environmental performance requirements for air traffic services, aircraft, and airports in a system that operates on multiple, differentiated service levels aligned with each user’s ability to meet different levels of Required Total System Performance. Further, given the capabilities that new technologies may offer, a balance between applying these abilities in expanding capacity versus minimizing environmental impacts will need to occur. Cost and timing of delivery. There are (understandably) significant gaps in information on the costs of implementation and timing of delivery of capabilities in the transition from the existing mode of NAS operations to the planned architecture. Both the scale of costs, especially in terms of enabling technology—e.g., GPS overlay procedures and fleet retrofitting—and timing issues will have large potential impacts on the ability to manage the resulting environmental impacts. Identification of choke points in the system. The initial architecture has focused on managing traffic through the sky. Given the early stage of development, it is not surprising that the key choke points have not yet been identified. However, just as important will be identification of the choke points in NGATS, to ensure correct targeting of investment in different aspects of the plan to provide the necessary capacity growth. Other Key Uncertainties Environmental targets for 2025. The required scope of reduction in both noise and local air quality emissions for the system of 2025 has yet to be determined. While we have committed to absolute reductions in both areas, the investments actually required will again depend on how aggressive we are in changing these metrics. It is also unclear what additional impacts may arise from improved scientific understanding of aviation’s influence on climate change. Finally, it is uncertain what new requirements may arise from potential introduction of new aircraft types—for example, supersonic business jets—or new environmental concerns—for example, high-altitude noise over national parks. Composition and environmental performance of the aircraft fleet. The large, subsonic commercial aircraft fleet we have today will—without intervention—in large part be the fleet we have in 2025. This poses a significant obstacle to improved environmental performance, especially for a system that expands threefold. For example, while navigation capabilities can be upgraded relatively quickly and cheaply through plug and play, changing the environmental performance of an aircraft is a more costly and difficult task given the safety and operational issues. Further, the role and size of other aircraft—very light jets, very large jets, UAVs, supersonic business jets, etc.—in the system of 2025 are unclear. Technological research funding gap. The next 5 to 7 years of research and development are critical for the fleet of 2025 given the long lead times involved in
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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System maturing and incorporating technological innovation in the U.S. fleet. The reduction in NASA’s aeronautics budget, especially in the vehicle systems program, undercuts the ability to deliver near-term noise and emissions innovations in airframes and engines. This, in turn, will hamper the ability to meet any increase in the stringency of noise and emissions metrics. Plans and Priorities for 2007-2011 Pursue aviation operational changes to reduce environmental impacts: Implement pilot programs in improved air traffic procedures to reduce aircraft noise and fuel burn/emissions to mitigate environmental impacts on communities around airports. Implement programs to improve airport and taxiing operations to reduce aircraft noise and fuel usage in airport operations. Continue near-term mitigation strategies to reduce environmental impacts: Foster voluntary efforts to accelerate conversion of airport ground support equipment to alternative and low-emission fuels to reduce emissions in air quality nonattainment areas. Explore development of new technologies and procedures to minimize deicing runoff into local watersheds. Initiate a process to develop land use approaches in communities around airports that would improve compatible land use and reduce future encroachment. Carry out noise reduction activities such as the soundproofing of residences and buildings used for educational or medical purposes near airports, the purchase of buffer zones around airports, residential relocation, and noise reduction planning. Facilitate communication with community roundtables to better educate the public on noise and emissions issues. Develop the analytical tools to address impacts, interrelationships, and cost-effectiveness: Develop databases and modeling to obtain a baseline for understanding the impacts and interrelationships of aviation environmental factors with emphasis on noise criteria, pollutants that impact local air quality, and emissions from aircraft operations during cruise that correlate with existing scientific information on climate change. Develop models to allow the cost-effective management of aviation’s environmental impacts by establishing a portfolio of policy, technological, and market-based options. Foster acceptance of improved models and tools within the international community. Foster research to mature near-term technologies and develop future technologies: Foster the maturing of near-term technologies in engines and airframes that could be readily incorporated and retrofitted in the existing commercial and military aircraft fleet to reduce noise and emissions over the next 5 to 7 years. Foster sufficient and targeted investment in long-term research in technologies for airframes, more efficient engines, advanced propulsion concepts, and new fuels and materials to reduce source noise and emissions. Invest sufficiently to advance these technologies to the maturity level necessary for incorporation into the fleet. Develop and incorporate new policy approaches: Explore the use of environmental management systems as an overall approach. Develop key policy proposals for FAA reauthorization in 2007. Recognize and develop ways to incorporate environmental interrelationships in policies and approaches based on new models and tools. Consider use of market-based options, incentives, and other policy approaches to reduce environmental impacts. Investigate new financing schemes to develop and implement noise and emissions abatement technologies and operational measures. Develop more effective metrics and methods to communicate aviation’s environmental impact to communities. Develop a U.S. aviation environmental policy document. Provide the best science-based information support to assess aviation’s environmental impact and critical metrics: Provide science-based knowledge to develop metrics that better represent the health and welfare impacts of NGATS on the environment. Provide science-based knowledge to the other EIPT panels to create an integrated environmental and cost/ benefit analysis of all mitigation activities, including technology, policies, and operations. Funding Requirements The estimated investment profile for the environmental plans and initiatives is contained in the attached charts.1 Information has been provided to date only by FAA and NASA. The committee is still awaiting information from the 1 The IPT estimated funding requirements for FY 2007 to 2011, but that information was not provided to the committee and the charts referred to do not appear in this appendix.
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Technology Pathways: Assessing the Integrated Plan for a Next Generation Air Transportation System Department of Commerce (NOAA), the Department of Defense, EPA, and the National Park Service. Resource estimates are provided based on current plans as well as on the above estimated investment profile, which reflects the needs identified by the various agencies but not currently programmed by them over the FY 2007-2011 time period. Key Risks Failure to agree on metrics. There is a wide diversity of perspectives today on what the right metrics should be for both noise and emissions. There is no guarantee—even with the additional research under way—that a very diverse group of stakeholders will be able to translate general agreement on direction (absolute reductions) into quantitative targets. Further, any agreement among stakeholders will only be the first step, as changes in legislation will be required. Legislative risks. Beside metrics, a number of potential issues could come up requiring legislative changes or mandates, especially in the policy area. New environmental impacts. There are three potential categories of risk in this area. First, current research in local and global emissions may provide information that dramatically changes the current view of the risks—and need for mitigation—of particular environmental impacts. Second, new kinds of aircraft—UAV or supersonic—could introduce new types of environmental impacts and issues in the national system. Finally, new sets of expectations for environmental improvements—e.g., “natural quiet in national parks”—could give rise to pressure for significant changes in how aviation’s environmental impacts are managed. Federal research and development funding. As this paper has highlighted, large increases are required, especially for NASA, if technology is to be developed, matured, and incorporated into the U.S. fleet in a manner to meet likely environmental performance requirements. The trends in NASA’s aeronautics budget, especially in the vehicle systems program, makes this significantly more challenging. Failure to deliver environmental technology innovation. Funding is not equivalent to delivery of innovation and its implementation in the system. The next 5 to 7 years of environmental technology innovation is critical if we are to make a difference in the fleet of the next 20 years. Industry financial pressure. The industry is headed to losing $35 billion since 2000, remains financially fragile, and has continuing pressures for regulatory spending, especially security. Environmental spending tends to take a back seat to spending on both safety and security. Even if new technology is developed, the industry may not be in a position to make a rapid incorporation of these technologies—through purchase of new aircraft or through retrofitting of existing aircraft—due to weak balance sheets and operating prospects as well as competing federal requirements.
Representative terms from entire chapter: