EU to push ahead with hushkit jet regulation

Kinnock warns USA not to take retaliatory action against new EU aviation noise rule

An EU regulation restricting "hushkitted" aircraft will definitely come into force on 1 May, despite protests from the USA, the European Commission's acting transport chief Neil Kinnock announced today. His statement follows EU transport ministers' March decision to delay the new legislation by one month while the Commission negotiated with US authorities to try to allay their misgivings (ENDS Daily 29 March).

The regulation will ban any further registration in the EU of older jets that have been fitted with noise mufflers because they are noisier than aircraft built to modern specifications as well as more polluting, the Commission says. Third party countries will still be entitled to use hushkitted aircraft after May 2002, if they were operating in the EU until the start of this month. Unlike the EU, the USA has many aircraft of this kind which its companies are likely to want to sell off second hand in coming years.

The trans-Atlantic dispute has come about because the USA claims the EU regulation is a trade barrier which would restrict the market for US-made equipment, rather than a genuine environmental measure. The US Congress is threatening to ban the supersonic jet Concorde from landing in the USA as retaliation if the EU regulation goes ahead.

Mr Kinnock told the committee that he had made it clear the regulation could not be substantively amended because it had already passed through the legislative process. He said discussions with American negotiators would continue, however, to see if any acceptable technical changes could be made to the regulation once in force. At the same time both parties agreed to work together to get new stricter aircraft noise standards agreed by the international aviation body ICAO.

Warning the US not to take unilateral action against the EU, Mr Kinnock said that a ban on Concorde would be in breach of World Trade Organisation rules. "That kind of measure can provoke reactions - both formal and informal - and I don't think anyone wants to see that kind of spiral start," he told ENDS Daily.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 295 1111.

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