NBAA Environmental Policy

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September 30, 2008

NBAA believes that when it comes to general aviation operations, environmental stewardship is an imperative. The Association continually works to develop reasonable and balanced policies that support the industry’s twin goals of promoting the mobility and growth of business aviation while minimizing its environmental footprint.

General Aviation’s Environmental Impact

General aviation airplanes account for 0.6 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the U.S. transportation sector and 0.2 percent of total global GHG emissions1. The business aviation community is focused on efforts to reduce emissions and minimize the industry’s environmental impact in the future through new technology, alternative fuels, efficiencies gained through air traffic modernization, and voluntary carbon off-set programs.

An Industry Record of Continuous Improvement

Ongoing improvements to aircraft and operational technologies and procedures for business aviation have resulted in efficiencies that help the environment.

  • The aircraft used in business aviation have an outstanding record of continuous improvement on emissions reduction, and today are among the most fuel-efficient aircraft in production – in fact, the average turbine engine certified in 2006 was 30-percent more fuel efficient than those certified in 1976. These advances are thanks to continuing technological innovations including engine design, improved aerodynamics and lighter, more efficient materials, such as composites.
  • Over two years ago, NBAA Members began equipping aircraft – at their own cost – with cockpit technology allowing for Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums, or RVSM, which effectively doubled the system’s airspace capacity.
  • Business aviation was also at the forefront of the development of ADS-B, the cornerstone for aviation system modernization and capacity expansion, because it allows for optimal efficiencies in routing, approaches and other uses of the aviation system.
  • NBAA Members also supported the development of precision-approach procedures (like RNP and SAAAR), which likewise produce efficiencies by enabling operators to custom-tailor flight paths, minimizing fuel burn and noise, while preserving operational safety.

NBAA’s Commitment to Effective Environmental Policies

NBAA recognizes the imperative of addressing environmental issues related to climate change, aircraft emissions and noise, and local air and water quality, and the Association’s work on environmental policy reflects the industry’s leadership on these issues.

  • For nearly forty years, NBAA has been actively engaged in policy development at the federal, state and local levels to address environmental concerns related to the industry. 
  • Today, NBAA is a lead participant in the work being done by the U.S. Joint Planning and Development Office to shape the implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or “NextGen.”
  • The Association also actively participates in multi-national efforts with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (ICAO-CAEP), the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), and our partner business aviation organizations from around the world to address noise, air and water quality and aircraft emissions on an international level.

The Need for a Smart, Balanced Approach to Environmental Policy

While the industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship is clear, so to is its central role in the nation’s economic well-being. General aviation contributes approximately $150 billion to the U.S. economy annually,  and aircraft manufacturing companies directly support more than 100,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs, with domestic industry billings for 2007 totaling $12 billion, including $4.6 billion in exports2. In order to ensure that environmental progress and industry growth can continue simultaneously, it is very important to continually enhance the scientific understanding of the atmosphere, the impact of aviation on the climate and the benefit of actions intended to reduce emissions.

Going Forward: An Action Plan for Continued Improvement

As a demonstration of the industry’s commitment to taking a leading role on environmental policies, NBAA has developed an Environmental Action Plan (EAP), defined with measureable elements for minimizing the industry’s climate impact. By design, the NBAA’s EAP is a resource for NBAA Members of all types and sizes. The plan is primarily focused on the use of operational best practices and access to voluntary carbon offset programs. NBAA’s EAP is focused specifically on environmental and climate-change policies that directly impact aviation, such as those covering aircraft noise and carbon emissions, and air and water quality.

The objectives included in the EAP are as follows:

  • Work with both government and industry leaders on climate-change improvements;
  • Strengthen emphasis on operational measures and best practices, while supporting efforts to develop improved engine and airframe technologies;
  • Support enhanced research on the actual impact of aviation on the environment;
  • Continue the work already done to transition the nation's aviation system to a more efficient Next Generation, or “NextGen” system based on satellite technology. The Government Accountability Office has cited FAA data showing that “the full implementation of NextGen could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft by up to 12 percent by 20253. ”Improve policies, controls and accountability for market-based approaches;

The specific approaches NBAA will pursue, in line with the objectives listed above, are as follows:

Climate Change - NBAA’s EAP articulates business aviation’s recognition of the importance of climate change, as well as the industry’s record on environmental stewardship, and its ongoing focus on reducing emissions through efforts with international, federal, state and local policy bodies. The focus of NBAA's EAP will be to continually reduce climate impacts from flight operations.

Aircraft Emissions - NBAA’s EAP supports exploration of initiatives to limit emissions, including research into alternative fuels and technology (like those being conducted by NASA), development of renewable energy alternatives like solar and wind power, and other strategies for minimizing emissions.

Aircraft Noise - NBAA has been a leader in aircraft noise-abatement programs, encouraging its Members to be good neighbors by developing voluntary programs for “quiet flying.” The Association’s EAP addresses the following with regard to specific types of aircraft noise:

  • Stage 2 – NBAA supports the phase-out of Stage 2 aircraft within the next five years, as proposed in FAA reauthorization legislation.
  • Stage 3 – NBAA will continue to support the Stage 3 certification efforts that have been highly successful in reducing noise around airports, complementing the fly-quiet policies developed by the Association and industry.
  • Stage 4 – NBAA supports the noise standards set forth by ICAO. The next generation of quieter Stage 4 aircraft already are already being introduced, and the ICAO standard would ensure continued uniformity on a global basis.

Local Air and Water Quality - Concerns over local air and water quality vary with geographic locations, and local government priorities. To address these concerns at airports, NBAA’s EAP promotes best practices specifically with regard to ground operations for business aircraft in conjunction with fixed base operations.


In summary, NBAA’s Environmental Action Plan is an Association-wide program focused on advocacy, legislative efforts, operational best practices and voluntary carbon-offset programs to minimize the industry’s environmental footprint.

1. Inventory of U.S. EPA Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, 1990-2006, .2 percent GAMA extrapolation.

2. MergeGlobal study commissioned by GAMA in 2005.

3. GAMA sales figures, presented publicly on February 12, 2008.