Jun 15, 2022 - Energy & Environment

FAA unveils climate rules for commercial planes

United Airlines Boeing 787-10 takes off.
United Airlines Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft departs Brussels International Airport on Jan. 30, 2022. (Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday proposed a new rule in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions from new aircraft manufactured in the U.S. after Jan. 1, 2028.

Why it matters: Aviation is a rapidly growing source of greenhouse emissions, including carbon dioxide, and has not been subjected to federal regulations under the Clean Air Act or other statutes.

Zoom in: The proposed rule would impose efficiency requirements for new subsonic jet aircraft and large turboprop and propellor planes not yet certified by 2028, and for those that are newly manufactured after the start of that year.

  • The rule would not apply to planes that are already in service.
  • In a statement, the FAA said the proposed regulations would bring the U.S. in line with rules developed under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), of which the U.S. is a member.
  • The EPA developed the efficiency standards under the authority of the Clean Air Act.
  • Commercial aircraft such as the upcoming Boeing 777-X and future versions of the 787 Dreamliner would come under this rule, the FAA said, along with certain business jets and commuter aircraft.
  • According to the statement, the EPA estimates these types of aircraft are responsible for about 10% of domestic transportation emissions.

What they're saying: “Today is an important step forward in reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released by our nation’s airplanes and ultimately reaching President Biden’s ambitious goal of net-zero emissions by 2050,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, in a statement.

What's next: The Biden administration is aiming to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector by 2050.

  • The rule would allow manufacturers and airlines to improve aerodynamics, the efficiency of engines and other steps to comply with the proposed rule. It uses a metric that equates fuel efficiency and consumption with emissions of CO2 and nitrous oxide.
  • The period for public comment would end on August 15, 2022.
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