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Towards global environmental regulation of supersonic aviation


Proposals should timely assess the holistic environmental impact of potential supersonic aviation and provide evidence for public acceptance long with suitable international high environmental standards. Proposals should take into consideration the results achieved within the EU projects FP6 HISAC[[]] (Environmentally friendly high-speed aircraft) and Horizon 2020 RUMBLE[[]] (Regulation and norm for low sonic boom levels). Proposals should also include the latest technological developments and explore potential solutions beyond the state-of-the-art, contributing to two or more of the following areas:

  • Advance further high-fidelity environmental modelling integrated into multi-disciplinary optimization of supersonic aircraft, trajectories and operations.
  • Assess and explore physics-based pathways to decrease noise and emissions at airport/local and global level (i.e. CO2, NOx, water vapour as well as their impact to ozone concentration in the stratosphere). Assess their impacts to trajectory optimization and aeropropulsion technologies to further reduce sonic-boom level and emissions.
  • Quantify the efficiency of sonic boom shaping in terms of various boom effects, and not only in terms of noise (e.g. sleep disturbance).
  • Explore further the characterisation of indoor boom annoyance (relevant metrics, measurements devices and locations), in collaboration with EASA and other national and international agencies.
  • Quantify sonic boom variability due to meteorology, turbulence, urban environment and buildings and address the development of certification processes that take into consideration the stochastic nature of sonic boom.
  • Develop at European or International level, accepted and validated modelling tools that capture the physics of the generation and propagation of sonic booms, towards further contributing at ICAO level, according to the CAEP work programme and agenda.

The proposals may include the commitment from the European Aviation Safety Agency and European national civil aviation authorities to assist or to participate in the actions. In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged, in particular with countries such as the Russian Federation, United States of America, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Australia and South Africa. International cooperation can include work towards the development of enabling technologies, joint tests, standards and certification, taking into account bodies such as United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Where applicable, proposals are encouraged to join international demonstration campaigns for noise and emissions assessments at all phases, including take-off and landing, provided that meaningful outcomes can be delivered according to CAEP work programme and agenda.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 3 and 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting lower or higher amounts.

This action is part of the Aviation International Cooperation Flagship called ""Safer and Greener Aviation in a Smaller World"" mentioned in the introduction to this work programme 2018-2020.

Accelerated public and privately-funded development and demonstration efforts in the US, over the last years, aim towards the introduction of new commercial supersonic aircraft as early as 2020-2022. In parallel, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 directs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to take a leadership role in creating federal and international policies, regulations, and standards to certify safe and efficient civil supersonic aircraft operations. Other countries such as Japan and Russia are also investing in research on commercial supersonic aircraft.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly Resolution A39-1 instructs the Council to review its Annexes so as to ensure that they take due account of the problems that the operation of supersonic aircraft may create for the public. In response to this Resolution, the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) is in the process of developing environmental standards and recommended practices (SARPs) under Annex 16. In October 2018 Austria on behalf of the European Union, of all EU Member States, of other Member States of the European Civil Aviation Conference and of Eurocontrol, submitted a working paper at ICAO (AN-Conf/13-WP/211)[[]]. This European working paper presents the European views on the subject and urges a holistic environmental approach (noise and emissions) before considering the introduction of supersonic aircraft into the global air navigation system.

In response to this European working paper, the challenge for the EU is to act promptly and shape together with the International community high environmental standards in line with ICAO Assembly Resolution A39-1. Research is needed for better understanding the combined and interdependent environmental impacts of potential supersonic aviation on citizens, as well as on the European and international regulatory and certification processes.

The EU should remain a decisive player for thorough development of ICAO noise and emissions standards setting (CO2 and air pollutants). This topic supports this objective by developing expertise at European and international level.

Leveraging resources with international partners can help, on the one hand, in shaping the new global regulations in line with EU’s climate change Long Term Strategy, and on the other hand, in sharing costs, risks and benefits, as well as in ensuring a level playing field.

  • Maintain high level of environmental protection, especially in terms of global and local emissions and noise.
  • Ensure suitable global regulations, standards, operational procedures and recommended practices for the protection of the citizens and of the environment.
  • Contribute to maintain world-class knowledge and skills in Europe in the field of civil supersonic aviation.
  • Contribute to stimulate disruptive innovation in civil aviation with spin-offs into other civil aerospace segments and other civil sectors.
  • Contribute to inspire and engage new generations of students and engineers.