The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) today announced its support of federal legislation sponsored by US Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, to phase-out and eventually prohibit the use of aircraft that do not comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Stage 3 noise emission standards. These aircraft, known as Stage 2, are primarily older business and corporate jets that weigh 75,000 pounds or less. At Massport's L.G. Hanscom Field in Bedford, MA, these aircraft accounted for less than one percent of the airport's annual traffic in 2005, yet were responsible for 23 percent of the noise energy produced by civil aircraft. Although stage 2 aircraft rarely use Boston Logan, the proposed ban will also benefit communities impacted by Boston Logan overflights.
In 1990, Congress mandated the phase-out of non-stage 3 aircraft over 75,000 pounds by December 31, 1999 and to comply with the regulation, many airlines and owners of large aircraft purchased new quieter Stage 3 aircraft and retired or modified their aging Stage 2 fleets. However, the legislation omitted non-stage 3 aircraft weighing 75,000 pounds or less that contribute disproportionately to airport noise levels. Senator Lautenberg's proposed legislation would close the omission from the 1990 law.
"Airports throughout the country struggle to balance the needs of the traveling public with the effects of air traffic noise on surrounding residential communities," said Thomas J. Kinton Jr., CEO and Executive Director of Massport. "Federal legislation to reduce noise and emissions levels is critical to ensure that the aviation industry continues to thrive as well as accommodate the current and future needs of the air traveling public and aviation-dependent commerce."
Boston Logan International Airport is New England's largest commercial airport and its only major international gateway. L.G. Hanscom Field accommodates the second highest number of takeoffs and landings in New England and is a valuable general aviation and corporate reliever to Boston Logan. Both airports are operated by Massport and are located in noise sensitive areas. Over the years, Massport not unlike many other operators of the nation's airports has worked hard to address environmental concerns so that its airports can continue to accommodate the region's aviation needs, and at the same time minimize its impacts on the surrounding communities.
The proposed legislation provides owners and operators of Stage 2 aircraft weighing 75,000 pounds or less with three years to either discontinue their operations or retrofit them to meet Stage 3 standards, while providing airports that are located in less densely populated areas with the option of continuing to serve non-complying aircraft. Industry and government estimates indicate that there are approximately 1,300 such aircraft in the United States, or about nine percent of the business/private fleet.