TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE AIRCRAFT NOISE
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1997
U.S. House of Representatives,
Committee on Science,
Subcommittee on Technology,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:05 p.m., in room 2318, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Constance A. Morella, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee, presiding.
Mrs. MORELLA. I'm going to call to order the Technology Subcommittee of the Science Committee, and today I'm pleased to welcome everybody to this Technology Subcommittee's hearing on aircraft noise.
Aircraft noise is a problem that affects millions of Americans. For some, the noise emitted from aircraft is simply an unwanted nuisance that intrudes on their everyday life. For others, however, aircraft noise is a factor that's been found to cause psychological and physiological damage to their health and well-being. Some of the documented harmful effects of aircraft noise include the loss of hearing, nausea, sleep deprivation, and stress.
Each day over 30,000 flights are completed within the United States. With air traffic in the United States projected to double in the next 15 to 20 years, it is critical that we take immediate steps to address current aircraft noise problems. We need to research and develop improved methods and technologies that will assist us in facing future aircraft noise challenges.
Today, we will learn more about our Nation's current approach to reducing aircraft noise from our distinguished panel of witnesses.
The FAA and NASA work cooperatively with the aviation
industry to conduct aircraft noise reduction research. The current federal approach to noise
abatement is two-fold: first, it supports research and development of new technologies to
reduce aircraft noise at its source; and second, it assesses and develops effective methods for
reducing the impact of aircraft noise on communities.
A key part of the joint FAA and NASA noise reduction effort has been the development and introduction of new aviation technology. Through various design changes, airframe manufacturers have successfully reduced the noise created by jets traveling through the skies at high speeds. Engine manufacturers have also made great strides in reducing noise by reducing the temperature and velocity of engine exhaust.
As technological breakthroughs have occurred, airlines have replaced the oldest, noisiest jets with more modern models that incorporate quieter technology. The first generation of jets were replaced in the 1970's with quieter Stage 2 aircraft. The Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 requires all Stage 2 aircraft to be replaced by even quieter Stage 3 aircraft by the Year 2000. All commercial airlines and cargo carriers must replace their fleets with Stage 3 aircraft, or retrofit their aircraft to meet the new Stage 3 noise levels.
While the transition to Stage 3 aircraft is a necessary step in the right direction, it's important to point out that it won't solve all our aircraft noise problems. The size of commercial aircraft has been increasing, requiring the use of larger and more powerful engines. This use of larger aircraft has offset some of the noise reduction achieved through the transition to Stage 3.
Reducing aircraft noise at its source is important, but it is simply one way to lessen the impact of aircraft noise on communities. The FAA provides grants to airports for soundproofing homes, businesses, and schools located near busy airports. In some cases, grants are used to purchase residential property for commercial redevelopment that is more compatible with airports. The FAA also works with airports, airliners, and communities to route aircraft away from residential areas and to develop flight operations that are less intrusive.
There is little doubt that we have made progress in addressing
the problems associated with aircraft noise since the advent of jet aircraft over 30 years ago.
However, it is critical that we continue to develop new aircraft technologies and methods to
abate aviation noise as the number of flights and the size of aircraft continue to increase.
The purpose of today's hearing is to review current federal research and technology activities
in this area and to ensure that we are adequately prepared to meet future aircraft noise
As a Member who represents aircraft corridors for both Washington National and Baltimore/Washington International airports, I have been working to try and reduce aircraft noise since I first came to Congress. And, today's hearing is, therefore, of particular interest to me and my constituents.
We are fortunate today to have a distinguished panel of experts with us to discuss the important issues of aircraft noise reduction. Mr. James Erickson is testifying on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration. Mr. Erickson is the Director of the FAA's Office of Environment and Energy.
Dr. Robert Whitehead is representing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Dr. Whitehead is NASA's Associate Administrator for Aeronautics and Space Transportation Technology.
Dr. Wesley Harris is representing the FAA Research, Engineering, and Development Advisory Committee. Dr. Whitehead [sic] formerly served as the Associate Administrator for aeronautics at NASA when he was my constituent, and is currently a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Next, Mr. Robert E. Robeson is testifying on behalf of the Aerospace Industries Association. Mr. Robeson is the Vice President for Civil Aviation at AIA.
And finally, Mr. Donald W. MacGlashan is with us today to testify on behalf of the Citizens for the Abatement of Airport Noise. Mr. MacGlashan has worked as an engineer in the aviation field for over 20 years, has been a strong advocate of responsible noise reduction measures, and, on a personal note, I have worked with Mr. MacGlashan on this important issue for many years since he's a constituent of mine from Montgomery County Maryland.
And, it's now my pleasure to recognize the distinguished
Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Mr. Gordon.
Mr. GORDON. Thank you, and I want to join the Chair in welcoming everyone to the hearing today.
The revolution in transportation technologytrains, cars, and airplanesdramatically changed our society. New modes of travel increased economic growth, improved the quality of our lives, and reshaped our society. However, modern transportation also made our world a much noisier place to live. Nowhere is this more apparent than in and around airports.
The subject of today's hearing focuses on just this issue: noise and how to reduce it in the face of increasing demand for air travel, even as the noise generated by individual aircraft goes down in response to more stringent noise regulations. Current federal regulations have set in motion a process that will reduce by 80 percent by the year 2000 the actual number of people subjected to air traffic noise. This is a result of the mandated transition to Stage 3 aircraft. However, this reduction in noise impact will not have a lasting effect unless new technologies are developed to reduce aircraft noises even more because the number of flights are projected to expand faster than the decrease in noise levels for individual aircraft.
A strong, focused R&D effort is necessary to develop new technologies that hold promises for reducing the sources of aircraft noise. In addition, research is needed to devise improved operational procedures and optimized flight paths to reduce the noise footprints of existing aircraft on populated areas.
Today's hearing will center on current NASA and FAA noise reduction programs. We're interested in exploring the scope of this program and its priority relative to the overall aviation research effort. Of particular interest is the nature of the collaboration between the FAA and NASA.
There are two other important issues as well. The current
FAANASA joint program is scheduled to end in the year 2000. However, the issue
of noise will not simply disappear in 2000 so a long-term plan for noise reduction, research
and development, and technology is needed. In addition, the airline manufacturers and
carriers operate in an international environment. Are other countries, particularly Europe,
likely to adopt more stringent noise reduction standards, and how will this impact the
international competitiveness of U.S. aircraft and engine manufacturers?
I want to thank our witnesses for appearing before the Subcommittee today and I look forward to hearing your comments.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Mr. Gordon. I would now like to recognize Mr. Cook, a very prominent Member from Utah, if he has any opening statement.
Mr. COOK. Well, thank you, Madam Chairwoman. I have no opening statement.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Mr. Cook.
You know, it's a policy of this Committee and the Subcommittee to swear in our witnesses, so if our witnesses would stand and raise their right hand.
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony that you're about to give is the truth and nothing but the truth?
Mr. ERICKSON. I do.
Mr. WHITEHEAD. I do.
Mr. HARRIS. I do.
Mr. ROBESON. I do.
Mr. MACGLASHAN. I do.
Mrs. MORELLA. Let the recorder demonstrate that the response is in the affirmative.
And, now, gentlemen, we'll proceed in the order in which I
introduced you, and I would like to ask you, if you would try to confine your comments to 5
minutes so that we have an opportunity to question all of you. The statements that you have
submitted in writing will be in the record in their totality, verbatim.
And so, we'll start off with you now, Mr. Erickson, thank you.
TESTIMONY OF JAMES D. ERICKSON, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
Mr. ERICKSON. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman and members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for this opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee to discuss the FAA noise research program and our cooperative effort with NASA on the Subsonic Noise Reduction Technology Program. I would like to summarize my remarks and submit my full statement for the record.
Mrs. MORELLA. Mr. Erickson, before you do thatand indeed, without objection your remarks will be in the recordI did not notice that I have two other very important members of this Subcommittee who are here. I would like to recognize them and ask them if they have any opening comments they'd like to make. Ms. Rivers from Michigan?
Ms. RIVERS. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. This was a very timely hearing for me in that just a week ago, the day before this hearing was announced, I spent the evening with a large number of my constituents who live within the noise contour of Detroit Metro Airport. It is a continuing problem for millions of Americans all over this country and I am very, very interested in what you have to say, particularly in the issue of where we may or may not be in terms ofin comparison toEurope and other parts of the world. And, I look forward to hearing your comments. Thank you.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Ms. Rivers. I'd now like to recognize from the great State of Texas, Ms. Johnson.
Ms. JOHNSON of Texas. Thank you,
Madam Chairwoman. I appreciate you calling this hearing. Clearly, I'm interested. I have
four airports in my district consisting of Littlefield, BFW, Redbird, and Lancaster, and
more, especially since we just passed legislation that allows Littlefield to entertain more
traffic. The citizens are extremely upset in the area. So, I will simply ask unanimous
consent to place my formal remarks in the record. Thank you very much.
Mrs. MORELLA. Without objection. Thank you, Ms. Johnson. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Johnson follows:]
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Mrs. MORELLA. Mr. Erickson, It's all yours now.
TESTIMONY OF JAMES D. ERICKSON
Mr. ERICKSON. I was about to mention, my colleague from NASA, Dr. Whitehead, provides a detailed description of our joint program in his testimony, therefore, what I would like to emphasize and concentrate on is a brief description of FAA's role in this very successful partnership with NASA.
Let me begin by pointing out that noise continues to be the number one environmental issue facing aviation. Both domestically and internationally, the effect of aviation noise on people, communities, and environmentally-sensitive areas is a quality-of-life issue that will significantly impact future improvements to the aviation system.
As Chairwoman Morella pointed out in her opening remarks, in recent years, we've made significant progress in reducing noise-impacted areas through the elimination of noisier aircraft as under the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990, otherwise referred to as ANCA. By every quantitative measure, we are making significant progress.
And, as this Committee knows, in 1975, before the phase-out of
unregulated Stage 1 aircraft, there were 7 million Americans significantly affected by aircraft
noise around our Nation's airports. In 1990, the year ANCA was enacted, the number of
persons significantly affected by noise decreased to less than half that number. In January of
the year 2000, at the end of the Stage 2 phase-out, the number will be less than one-half
million. That represents significant progress. The figures are all that more impressive
because the number of passengers traveling during this time will have nearly quadrupled.
This is a win-win situation in terms of both environmental and aviation objectives.
Today, we are on the threshold of a major change in the noise environment in and around airports. As Secretary Slater reported last month, slightly more than 75 percent of aircraft currently operating are quieter Stage 3 aircraft. It is important to recognize, however, that the 25 percent of the noisier Stage 2 aircraft are responsible for about 60 percent of the noise contribution. These aircraft and this noise will be gone in just over 2 years, and our Nation's airports will become significantly quieter.
While we can point to this record with some satisfaction, it is clear that if additional aircraft technologies provided by research are not incorporated in new aircraft designs, noise will increase as aviation grows. We must recognize, therefore, and continue to strive for further advances in noise reduction technology.
This brings me to our current research effort: the Advanced Subsonic Technology Program. It got underway in 1994 and will continue through the year 2000. Total expenditure is about $1 billion, and about one-quarter of that will be for the noise reduction element. FAA will contribute about $8.6 million towards the noise reduction. We believe that this is money well spent. FAA, NASA, and our partners in the aviation industry have already achieved positive results from this program.
Because all parties have worked cooperatively toward shared goals, we have met all mid-term objectives for each of the five program areas and we are confident that, ultimately, we will achieve all performance objectives. Although NASA provides most of the funding for the program, the FAA, as the certification and regulatory oversight authority, plays a significant role in program direction and management. The AST program is an excellent example of the effective leverage of limited FAA research and development dollars.
FAA places a high priority on research because it plays such an
important role in the design, development, and implementation of FAA programs.
Environmental research supports the development of aircraft noise certification standards,
policy, and computer technology for assessing aviation environmental impacts. FAA has
developed a truly unique noise modeling capability that does not exist anywhere else in the
world. These noise tools are used by international and U.S. government agencies, airports,
industry, private consultants, and the public to understand and project noise impacts on
people in communities near airports.
Looking toward the future, we believe that commercial aviation will face many challenges, and those raised by aviation's impact on the environment are among the more compelling. But research dollars are few, and competition for them is stiff. So, FAA has recently begun an outreach program. Although we call this the Environmental Research 2000 Program, it looks well beyond 2000 to establish a better process for gathering and prioritizing multiple environmental research needs of civil aviation. It will provide FAA and the Research Engineering and Development Advisory Committee better inputs with which to make choices on how limited funds should be spent and whether additional funding is needed to address new environmental concerns. We've already held initial meetings with industry and government and a public meeting and announcement of Environmental Research 2000 is planned for this November.
In conclusion, Madam Chairwoman, aviation noise problems raise significant environmental concerns, but we believe that these problems will yield to research and thoughtful development of new standards. Noise problems around airports can be displaced almost entirely if advanced technologies are used to build quieter aircraft and land-use techniques can be effectively utilized to establish and maintain noise buffers at our Nation's airports as the noise contours shrink.
I assure you that FAA and NASA together with our partners in the aviation community are making good progress in developing the technologies to lower aircraft noise. We believe that our cooperative working relationship with NASA is a model for effective interagency research activities. As a result, the AST program is on track and is providing the technology necessary to reduce significantly the noise levels of future designs. FAA is planning for the future as well; a bright future with better direct input from constituents which will help prioritize noise issues along with other environmental concerns and will certainly lead toward quieter skies.
This concludes my remarks, Madam Chairwoman. I would be
happy to answer questions.
[The prepared statement and attachments of Mr. Erickson follow:]
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Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Mr. Erickson.
And, I now turn to Dr. Whitehead.
TESTIMONY OF ROBERT E. WHITEHEAD, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR AERONAUTICS AND SPACE TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY, NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
Mr. WHITEHEAD. Madam Chairwoman, members, I thank you for a chance for NASA to say what it thinks about noise reduction research and our cooperative programs with FAA and the industry. I, too, will submit a written testimony for the record and will summarize my remarks.
Mrs. MORELLA. It will be included, without objection.
Mr. WHITEHEAD. Thank you. NASA and FAA, as you've heard, have a long history of cooperation on a range of important aviation research topics. In safety, our windshear and aging aircraft programs are examples. In air traffic management, our centers take on automation system for controller aids. In human factors, our research on pilot fatigue has been a big success. But, nowhere has our record been better and our achievements been more successful than in our environmental research in noise reduction.
Therefore, I think that in 1992, when Congress mandated that FAA and NASA cooperate on a joint noise reduction research program, itthe Congresswas making a logical and well-informed decision to take advantage of a proven partnership with a long record of success.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you.
Mr. WHITEHEAD. You're welcome.
We, being FAA and NASA, as Jim Erickson said, developed a noise reduction research element as part of the NASA Advanced Subsonic Transportation Technology Initiative and Congress approved that initiative in the 1994 appropriation. This initiative and the noise reduction element expanded a program already underway as part of the ongoing research program that was responding to the 1992 mandate.
The program was developed in cooperation and with the advice of an industry-government steering group from its early planing phase, and that's a very important step that I hope to elaborate just briefly on later.
To understand the Advanced Subsonic Technology Program and the importance of noise reduction in it, I think it's important to understand the overall systems technology context in which the program was planned and is being implemented. As we all know and have stated, noise impacts the quality of life of those people who have worked in the operation, who are passengers in aviation, and those people who live in the communities that surround airports. So, it is a quality-of-life issue.
The overall viability of a safe, reliable, affordable, and productive aviation system is also a quality-of-life issue. The NASA-FAA-industry research program deals with technology for noise reduction that is implementable in this system context; that we have a long history of being able to do new research in technology and have it apply to noise in new aircraft and new propulsion systems that are also more efficient, more reliable, safer, and lead to affordable air traffic. And, that is the key to the Advanced Subsonic Technology Program; a key to our partnership with industry and FAA; and, it has been a win-win situation for the flying public, the airport community, and for the operators and manufacturers of aircraft.
A little bit about NASA's role in this partnership. It's relatively simple in context. We are in the technology business. NASA does not operate, manufacture, or regulate aeronautical vehicles. We do research and technology in partnership with other government agencies and private industry. We provide technology options that must be applied by otherswhether it's the manufacturer, or the operation of aircraft, setting of standards and regulations by FAA or other government organizations. So, the partnerships that we developed with industry and FAA are keys to being able to take the taxpayers investments in research in aviation and apply them in ways that benefit thembetter quality of life with an environmental aviation system, a safe system, and an affordable system.
If I could summarize just for a moment some of the basis for
our claim of history of programmatic success: it goes back to the 1960's with our quiet
nacelle program, the 1970's with our quiet engine program and our JT8D revamp program
with Pratt & Whitney, and into the 1980's into advanced turbo prop program; thus, 30 years
of research on propulsion systems with noise as a key element in that technology. The fact
that we have today, modern aircraft engines that create only one-fourth to one-half the noise
levels of the first generation turbojet enginesthese engines operate with amazing
I was told by a Vice President for Operations from United Airlines that the new Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engine on the triple 7 just completed a full year of operation without one in-flight shutdown, and the fact that that is one of the quietest, cleanest burning engines ever designed is a testimony to the fact that we can, with research and technology in partnership, produce safe, reliable, affordable, environmentally friendly from technology derived by taxpayer investment.
One caution, and I'm the researcher speaking here, there is a danger for NASA and its technology program that people assume that our technology development represents a ''done-deal'' in aviation environment and noise reduction. Premature or inappropriate regulations or standards or assumptions about our technology before it's validated in operational systems or in production systems, or full-scale, I think is something we need to guard against. We need to make sure that the technology we produce is applicable, can be affordably applied in new technology. And that's why the industry-FAA partnership is so important to us. We produce technology output, our partners must work to produce outcomes of benefit to the Nation and the tax payer before the investment made in NASA research is returned to them. So, we think that's very important.
In summary, the bottom line on our current program is that we are succeeding. This program was put together as a partnership from the beginning. It's aggressive. We're 3 plus years into it. We've now provided the technology validation to gain an additional 3 decibels of noise reduction out of the fan of turbo fan engines, another 3 decibels out of the noise exhaust, and the potential for a 25 percent increase in effectiveness of the materials used in the nacelle of the engines to quiet it. In the terms that I, as a senior bureaucrat, and maybe you can understand better, that would reduce the size of the area impacted by a certain noise level around an airport by one-thirda full one-third in areas. If we continue this path through 2001, the completion of our current noise reduction program, we get a 10-decibel reduction that will increase this footprint by a full two-thirds.
Now, there was some reference to what are we going to do after
the current program. In our planning horizon in NASA, Mr. Goldin has committed to 10
long-range stretch goals, one of which has to do with noise reduction. They have 10-year
goals and 20-year goals. The 10-year goal that we are striving for is our current goal; we
think we are well on our way to achieving that. We have put into our long-range planning
horizon the planning wedge to take the next steps after our current program in noise
reduction for an additional 10 percent, or 10 decibel, reduction in noise. So we believe that
we will make substantial investments beyond the current program. We're planning for those.
We think that we need to do them in the same context that we do nowthat's a
cooperative program from the beginning with industry and FAA.
So, thank you very much, and I would be happy, also, of course, to answer questions.
[The prepared statement and attachments of Mr. Whitehead follow:]
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Mrs. MORELLA. Great. Thank you, Dr. Whitehead.
I'm now pleased to recognize Dr. Harris for his commentary.
TESTIMONY OF WESLEY L. HARRIS, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION, RESEARCH, ENGINEERING AND DEVELOPMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE, AND PROFESSOR OF AERONAUTICS AND ASTRONAUTICS, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you.
Madam Chairwoman and members of the Subcommitteeis this alive? Okay.
Madam Chairwoman and members of the Subcommittee, I'm pleased to provideto have this opportunity to address the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration programs and activities in civilian aviation as such relate to environmental impact, enhanced airspace capacity, and economic competitiveness. I have provided a formal statement for the record.
It is important to note that predicted future growth in air traffic
in the United States and in foreign countries presents opportunities to generate additional
national wealth through manufacturing of our aviation productsand these products
range from jet engines and airframes to JPS sets and ground-based radars. On the other
hand, this predicted growth has an associated challenge of increasing our need to reduce the
negative environmental impact, and to increase our safety, and greatly expand the efficient
use of our airspace. The potential impact of undisciplined growth of civilian aviation on
society, on commerce, and world order is simply great. It is so great, in fact, that the
United States must accelerate its leadership position in developing related standards.
In my informal comments, it's important to note first, it's important and also appropriate to recognize the many technology tools developed by NASA and by the FAA and that these tools have significantly reduced the negative impact of civilian aviation on our environment. These advances have been made possible with the guidance and full support of the Congress. Both the U.S. civilian aviation industry and our universities have participated in the development of these technologies.
I think it's important for the record to include some of these particular advances. My colleague, Dr. Whitehead, has mentioned most of these: first, the acoustic nacelle design technology; second, the modified fan jet technology being applied to the JT8D engine built by Pratt & Whitney; third, the integrated jet engine component designed for reduced noise program; and fourth, waiting to be used: the reduced noise and fuel efficient ducted and unducted propulsors.
It is also appropriate to recognize the steady progress of NASA's Advanced Subsonic Technology Noise Program as well as the High Speed Civil Transport Program. Within these programs, NASA is working with the FAA, the U.S. civilian aviation industry, and universities.
I'm pleased also to note that NASA, working with the Department of Defense, has established a partnership with the U.S. rotorcraft industry. This partnership is designed, in part, to develop noise reduction technologies appropriate for rotorcraft. This partnership is captured within the National Rotorcraft Technology Center.
Madam Chairwoman, it is through the above programs and
activities that the United States has led the world in developing useful technology for the
reduction of negative environmental impact generated by civilian aviation. Equally
important, however, it is the efficient and effective transfer of this useful technology into
policy. This technology-based policy, both national and international in scope, has played a
critical role in enabling the U.S. aviation industry to continue to lead the world in
manufacturing, selling, and maintaining the highest quality aviation products. In the past,
this efficient and effective transfer of technology into policy has ensured distinct competitive
advantage for the U.S. aviation industry. This competitive advantage which is enjoyed by
the United States is reflected in the large positive balance of trade maintained by this
Madam Chairwoman and members of the Subcommittee, it is my professional opinion that the U.S. competitive advantage in aviation and a sustainable environment are at risk due to the absence of a national long-term technology-based policy designed to both understand and mitigate civilian aviation impact on the environment. I hasten to add that similar concern for the potential loss of U.S. leadership in aviation due to a lack of modern air traffic control equipment was expressed in the September 10, 1997 Preliminary Funding Task Force Report by the National Civil Aviation Review Commission; and this Task Force report was chaired by a former Member of the House, the Honorable Norm Mineta.
I now hasten to a near-term issue that may be small in comparison to the international scene, but one which I believe to be very, very important. Given the data that I have been exposed to, the FAA has cut its noise and air quality modeling and analysis simulation in the Fiscal Year 1999 budget by more than 50 percent. This adverse action, basically, in my opinion, eliminated the FAA environmental impact simulation programs and activities. This action will have a negative impact on over 200 U.S. airport environmental studies and over 450 organizations in 35 countries. If funded, this program would provide a state-of-the-art, high-quality environmental assessment tool for better decision making. The results of this program, in my opinion, would be accepted by the International Civil Aviation OrganizationICAOto deliberate on international aircraft noise and engine exhaust standards. By retaining these programs, the U.S. leadership position is continued. Along with this leadership position is a competitive advantage for the U.S. aviation industry as well as a sustainable environment.
In restoring the FAA Fiscal Year 1999 simulation budget, the
FAA, in my opinion, is able to maintain a small, balanced program with three components:
one, aircraft noise control; two, engine emissions control; and three, the important area of
simulation. With a balanced program, the FAA would be in a stronger position to rationally
accept and integrate the useful environmental impact reduction technology developed by
NASA into its national and international policy functions. Hence, a balanced FAA
environmental impact reduction program would strengthen the partnership between NASA,
industry, universities, and the FAA.
My formal statement to the Subcommittee includes a brief response to the seven issues identified in the charter for this particular hearing.
Madam Chairwoman, this concludes my remarks. I am prepared to respond to questions.
[The prepared statement and attachments of Mr. Harris follow:]
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Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Dr. Harris, and we do have your response to those questions that had been posed to you and appreciate that. They'll be included in the record and we will all look at them very closely.
I would now like to recognize Mr. Robeson.
TESTIMONY OF ROBERT ROBESON, VICE PRESIDENT, CIVIL AVIATION, AEROSPACE INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
Mr. ROBESON. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.
On behalf of AIA, we appreciate the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee this afternoon. As you know, AIA is the trade association that represents the Nation's manufacturers of aerospace products, including civil aircraft, engines and components; and I might add that our President, the Honorable Don Fuqua, no doubt sends his regards to this Committee with which he is well acquainted.
Madam Chairwoman, AIA fully supports the combined efforts
of NASA and the FAA in the field of aeronautical R&D. Our member companies have in
the past and will continue to work with NASA and the FAA in achieving the goals of the
Joint Noise Reduction Program. These research and technology activities, which are part of
a larger cooperative Advanced Subsonic Technology Program mentioned previously in the
panel, in our opinion, represents a careful balance of safety, environmental, and efficiency
objectives which are integrated to achieve our national goals.
We're confident that both agencies, as well as academia and industry, will continue to achieve the technological gains that are necessary to meet the goals of the 1992 interagency agreement. However, we must be mindful that the development and application of these technologies is a long-term process and should not be used to establish premature or inappropriate regulations, a subject also addressed by Mr. Whitehead. Even after new technologies are sufficiently developed to be introduced into service, it will take many years to incorporate these technologies into the commercial transport fleet. We estimate that of the 12,000 aircraft now in service, about 7,000 of these aircraft will still be flying 20 years from today.
AIA and its member companies believe that environmental problems must be addressed aggressively and impartially. Aircraft noise standards must be based on sound technical, scientific, and economic principles, before they are implemented.
This Subcommittee is well aware that air traffic is projected to grow at a 5 percent annual rate over the next decade as more and more countries benefit from economic development and integration into the global economy. Airports and their air traffic control systems will add needed capacity to accommodate increasing reliance on air transportation services.
Although the technical solutions to mitigation of the environmental effects of aviation will come from government and manufacturers' investments in advancing technology, government also plays a regulatory role on noise emissions. The way in which the governmental bodies assert their regulatory demands on the aviation community can have a substantial positive or negative effect on progress in abatement technology.
The positive role is best illustrated by the development of the
current Stage 3 noise standards for large commercial aircraft. These standards were
developed in the United Nations Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, and our FAA played an
important leadership role, and continues to play and important leadership role, in developing
those standards. And, I might add that industry is also playing a vital role, in our opinion,
in supporting those efforts with the FAA.
This ICAO process is optimal for two reasons: first, the consensus process generates one international standard that all manufacturers use to focus their development activities. Second, sufficient phase-in periods were permitted to allow the new technology to reach the market place. The result is superior noise performance from new aircraft and engine designs while keeping aviation affordable to the traveling public.
The alternative to long-range international noise standards is a patchwork of national and local standards. Multiple standards dilute the impact of technology by forcing manufacturers to spend their product development and testing resources on multiple and sometimes conflicting goals. Overlapping and inconsistent standards also increase the uncertainty of the market demand for new products. Ultimately, that uncertainty will reduce the flow of investment for new noise abatement research.
International aviation is an essential part of the global economy. The integration of national economies depends on a healthy transportation system, including international aviation. A patchwork of differing national standards is at cross-purposes with the development of a truly international transportation network.
For many years AIA and our sister organization, the Air Transport Association, have strongly supported ICAO as the only international organization with the expertise necessary to develop an international consensus on aircraft noise policy and we will continue to work toward realization of that goal.
Here at home, the recently passed conference report on the
Fiscal Year 1998 Transportation appropriations bill addressed the issue of land-use planning
and provided funds for noise mitigation grants to airports. This is a further step in the right
direction. Effective land-use planning procedures would preserve the noise contour area
reductions anticipated through the achievement of an all Stage 3 fleet. ICAO projections
indicate that noise levels for communities near airports will be reduced substantially by the
Looking further into the future, we will need an integrated approach in order to make the most of technical advances in aircraft noise reduction. This will include technical changes to aircraft and engines; a re-evaluation of noise abatement procedures as aircraft become quieter; and an assessment of the impact that these changes will have on land-use planning around airport property. All of these issues will play an important role in reducing the impact that aircraft noise has on surrounding communities as we seek to find ways to increase the throughput in our aviation system in the face of anticipated growth and overall flight operations. Only by taking a systems approach will we reap the maximum benefits from the investments being made by both the public and private sector in noise reduction, and the efforts of all involved parties will be necessary to make these advances a reality.
As to some general issues, we believe that both NASA and FAA are performing their missions in a professional manner. We enjoy excellent cooperation with each agency and we have the same goal in mind.
We think it is time to broaden the emphasis on noise reduction, not only to technical goals, but to recognize the soundness of a three-legged approach to technical, land-use planning and operational procedures. This approach to complete the long-term goals uses all three to augment the significant achievements the engine and airframe technologies have made in solving environmental problems to date.
That concludes my remarks, Madam Chairwoman. I will be happy to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement and attachments of Mr. Robeson
Insert offset folios 32-36
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Robeson. I bet many Members of Congress don't realize that the United Nations was involved in setting those standards through the ICAO.
I'd now like to turn to Mr. Don MacGlashan. And I told him, rather in jest, but with some seriousness, that I was going to let him do the clean up, to be the last person to respond to all the experts. Mr. MacGlashan?
STATEMENT OF DON MACGLASHAN, MEMBER, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, CITIZENS FOR THE ABATEMENT OF AIRPORT NOISE
Mr. MACGLASHAN. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Indeed, I will be taking a different tack than what these gentlemen have presented.
Citizens for the Abatement of Aircraft Noise appreciates being invited to present the citizen's view on the aircraft noise issue. By holding this hearing, this Subcommittee demonstrates its awareness of this growing problem. Madam Chairwoman, the bottom line is that the citizens in many metropolitan areas feel they are paying the price for aviation growth by the amount of noise they are forced to endure. I will try to illustrate the magnitude of this problem by using the Washington area as an example.
As you know, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority operates our two airports, National and Dulles. The population impacted by these two airports is over 900,000 people, not the 19,000 recently quoted in the Washington Post. How bad is this impact? The most recent data from the Airports Authority indicate that from 30 to 50 percent of the people are living in noise above the 65 DNL standard depending on the time of the year. The EPA and the American National Standards Institute have set a level of 55 DNL as compatible for residential living. Fifty-five to 65 DNL is designated as marginally acceptable and above 65 DNL is designated as incompatible. So looking back at these numbers, at least 30 percent of the people are having to live in an unhealthy noise environment. Not only that, but at least 60 percent are living in areas designated as only marginally acceptable. These are startling numbers.
Are all these people actually bothered by the noise? No.
According to early studies sponsored by the FAA, only 12 percent are really bothered. Since
that study, Carl Kreider, the man who developed the DNL, has recanted these conclusions
and now thinks that the 12 percent value should be more than doubled. But even if we
accept the 12 percent, that's over 100,000 people in the Washington area whose health may
be being damaged. If 100,000 people in a single metropolitan area were discovered to have
a debilitating, but preventable disease and the authorities ignored it, that would be a national
news event and the data suggests that's what's happening. Is Washington unique in this
problem? The answer is definitely no. At Chicago's O'Hare Airport, over 80 percent of the
surrounding communities are living with DNL's above 65 dB. In other cities, it has much
the same problem.
CAAN, as well as many others, believe that the DNL metric we are using is flawed. We need a new one. Besides being set too high, the DNL metric has no relationship to what is happening. If you are sleeping and one single DC10 flies over at 5,000 feet, you will surely know it, but it will hardly affect the DNL for that day. The new metric should include the effects of single noise events and health effects. CAAN recommends that a panel, independent from the FAA and the airline industry, be convened to design this new metric.
Are there things that we can do to alleviate the problem? CAAN thinks so and recommends the following: Place more research dollars into designing quieter aircraft. Two, establish a timetable for the introduction of Stage 4 aircraft. Three, put a cap on the level of noise that communities near airports have to endure and when that level is exceeded, invoke penalties and require that operational changes be made to reduce the noise. This is what's going on in Holland right now. CAAN also feels that for inner-city airports the aircraft flight management system could help reduce noise by flying the aircraft at reduced but safe climb rates instead of prescribed engine power ratio. CAAN also thinks that restricting inner-city airports to using the new regional jet makes a lot of sense. This aircraft is smaller and therefore quieter and shouldn't have the high noise peaks which are the main problem.
In conclusion, CAAN feels that the aircraft noise is a serious
and complex problem with far more health consequences than previously recognized. For
this reason, we recommend that new noise standards, keyed to health risks, be
That's the end of my comments.
[The prepared statement and attachments of Mr. MacGlashan follow:]
Insert offset folios 37-45
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Mr. MacGlashan. I noticed that your testimony is longer than the oral statement that you gave, and I reiterate the fact that it will be included in its totality in the record.
Mr. MACGLASHAN. All right.
Mrs. MORELLA. Now, as we begin the questioning, I would like to defer, as a courtesy to the Vice Chairman of this Subcommittee, Mr. Gutknecht, who has an appointment. So, Mr. Gutknecht, you may start the questioning, sir.
Mr. GUTKNECHT. Thank you very much, Madam Chairwoman, and I will be very brief.
But, we, this question is really directed to Mr. Erickson. We woke up on Friday to a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the hush kits that are being used on DC9's and since the local airline is perhaps the biggest user of this, I mean we're delighted that they're doing what they can to abate the noise, but on the other hand the story at least raised questions in terms of their overall safety. And I wonder, Mr. Erickson, what can you tell us, either today at the hearing or frankly, I would actually appreciate if you could send me a letter in writing to allay some of the concerns that are raised by this story and I did have a copy of it sent down to you so you had a chance to take a look at what I'm asking about. So, what can we tell the traveling public and those that who may live in and around the airport?
Mr. ERICKSON. Well, Congressman,
thank you for sending the note. I see in here a lot of allegations and what
Mr. GUTKNECHT. Unfortunately, Mr. Erickson, in this business, that's what we deal with sometimes.
Mr. ERICKSON. I'm certainly aware of that, sir. I guess I would say that the first thing the FAA looks at in any modification to an aircraft is safety. That's our overall mantle, it's where our thought pattern is, it's where our head is, so that when someone comes in with a modification to an aircraft, which a hush, a hush kit is, and these DC9's must be modified to comply with ANCA, so it's actually by the end of 1999 that these aircraft must be modified. We look first at the safety aspects of the modification, and second, at the environmental aspects of the modification. I am not the FAA safety official so I cannot directly respond to the safety allegations in the, in the, some of the allegations here on maintenance practices, but I certainly can get back to you for the record or back to you personally with a letter regarding them. However, we have no, no experience, no safety experience problems with hush kit in aircraft and we've been doing so for 30 years.
Mr. GUTKNECHT. Thank you, and Madam Chairwoman, I will yield back, but I would appreciate and we will send you something a little more detailed and if you could have whoever it is at FAA respond to those, I think it would be helpful.
Mr. ERICKSON. We certainly would be glad to do so.
Mr. GUTKNECHT. Thank you, Mr. Erickson. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Mr. Gutknecht.
Mr. Erickson, I'll start off with just a couple of questions and I'm going to have the same question to any of the rest of you who would like to comment on it. I'd like to know what are the factors that determine aircraft noise? As I go further, does an aircraft that's loaded with more fuel to enable it to fly longer distances, emit a greater amount of noise than an identical type of aircraft intending to fly to a closer destination?
Mr. ERICKSON. If all other factors are
equal, Madam Chairwoman, the increased fuel would make the aircraft heavier and would
result in slightly more noise, community noise, yes.
Mrs. MORELLA. All right. Would the rest of you agree or would anyone like to comment on that? Gee, that kind of smacks of legislation that's being put in by my colleague over on the Senate side. Okay. Dr. Whitehead and then anyone who may wish to comment.
We certainly applaud NASA Administrator Goldin's challenge to the aeronautics community to reduce the perceived noise levels of future aircraft by a factor of two from today's subsonic aircraft to MIA Factor 4 within 20 years. Has NASA begun the strategic long-term planning that is necessary to reach that good goal? Is it going to be, you know, if you look at projected funding and the priority that may be established, is this possible to reach that aircraft noise R&D goal?
Mr. WHITEHEAD. We think so. The goals were established. There are 10 goals for the Aeronautics and Space Transportation Technology enterprise. They were all established to be aggressive for goals requiring a substantial amount of innovation long-term research, but they were established in concert with the industry and our government partners. So, we think that with a concerted aggressive research and technology effort and working together we can achieve them. The way we've approached these goals, is to make some assumptions about the future appropriations to our agency over 10 and 20 years and our, and the Administrator's best guess or estimates from us and then we've planned against the, that as a financial planning wedge and then our technical goals our tech transfer, so we think we have a reasonable risk chance, both technically and physicallyfiscallyof meeting all of these goals. We are currently intensively involved in an assessment of all of our ongoing programs. That will be completed by March of 1998 and we have teams for every goal now; NASA, industry, other government agency teams then to do the investment planning, the research planning for 10 and 20 year goals.
In the case of noise reduction, we think that advanced subsonic
technology noise program will accomplish our first 10 year goals. We were talking earlier
about the fact that some of the technologies for the 20 year goals will probably involve active
control. Some technologies that now we have in the advanced research stage that we have
applied in some very limited cases, but need now to be mature in this more systems
So, we are not without ideas. Intentionally, these are ambitious goals and they contain a certain amount of research risk to create innovation among the academic, government and private industry.
Mrs. MORELLA. Providing you continue to make them priorities? So that we don't have the balance skewed. I doubt that
Mr. WHITEHEAD. Just as an example, the subsonic technology program has been in existence since 1994, actually implemented by Dr. Wesley Harris's leadership. I worked for him at NASA. But, we have undergone some tough times in the agency and had to make some tough budget decisions. We've never taken a dime out of our noise reduction program in advanced subsonic technology. Can't imagine that we will under anything other than, than the most draconian circumstances for us.
Mrs. MORELLA. I was here in 1992 when you mentioned, that's why I said thank you during your testimony, trying to push for that noise abatement money for, for NASA. Glad you've been working with it.
Dr. Harris, in your testimony that you expressed some concern about the Fiscal Year 1999 funding reductions for noise modeling and analysis activities. What effect would the proposed cuts have on the environmental decisionmaking?
Mr. HARRIS. Madam Chairwoman, as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the FAA RE&D Advisory Committee, we were exposed to the programs and planning of the environmental and energy research section of the FAA and we were concerned that the simulation component of the research program within that office was being decimated with the potential impact being quite severe and that the noise models, the simulations, played, in our opinion, a major role in assessment. Assessment, not only our national airports, but since these models are so good, or have been so good, that they have been used by many countries. So, we think that if this particular area of research within the FAA does not continue, does not proceed to be head of the parade, first in class internationally, then the decision making process could be passed on to another practicing group, another nation, and I think that would be detrimental.
Mrs. MORELLA. So, we'd lose our
competitive edge in that regard then in your estimation?
Mr. Robeson, I'm going to get back to you during the second round of questioning, but I just want to ask Mr. MacGlashan something and then defer to my colleagues.
Many people don't agree with the use of the average you talked about, that day/night sound level standard of 65 decibels because it fails to consider all factors that contribute to aircraft noise. I wonder are there other standards that could be used? And I wonder what would be the effects on communities if the threshold was reduced to DNL 60 decibels or less? So, two questions within to that.
Mr. MACGLASHAN. Yes, to answer your first question, California and a number of California, I mean, a number of European countries use what they call CNEL, community noise equivalent level. This approach really seems to only change the thing a little bit, in that they apply a 5 dB penalty factor from 7 to 10 in the evening in an effort to try to promote a little quieter atmosphere for people when they get home, so they can relax and at least have a conversation. That standard does not address the single event noise situation at all and that really is the crux of the matter. The averaging just isn't going to do the job or it doesn't do it presently and that's why we need to develop a new metric which in some manner includes the effect, and I think you also have to include the health effects in this thing which means that you're going to have to run a number of studies to look at some of the other studies that have already been done, and there have been a number of those, to evaluate to what degree does the peak noise event affect people's health. That's something that, of course, I can't comment on in terms of the actual effects.
Let's see, your second question. Lowering it, the standard to 60 DNL. That, I guess, the way I feel about it, is that right now, it doesn't seem to make any difference where the standards are because there's no penalties or anything involved whether it's 65 or 75 or anything else. Setting standards for DNL at 60, if you applied it to whether they could build housing within that 60 DNL contour, that's one thing, but that has nothing to do with how the people are impacted by the noise itself. So, I hesitate to say that, yes, it's going to help a lot, because until there is some enforcement of the present 65 level, we aren't going to get anyplace. So, I don't know whether to answer, that answers your question or not.
Mrs. MORELLA. No, I mean it does. I
think your saying that we need a new metric first of all and then also, that there are no
sanctions and maybe we'll get at that a little later on too.
And I'm going to ask you, Mr. Robeson, next round, about what do we after Stage 3? Do we have a Stage 4?
Right now I'd like the Ranking Member to have an opportunity to pose questions. Mr. Gordon?
Mr. GORDON. Thank you. We live in a global environment and a global marketplace and I'm interested in knowing more about international noise abatement trends. The likelihood that they won't abide by ICAO recommendations and what impact that's going to have on our operators and manufacturers. I only have 5 minutes, like you, so I'm just going to put this forth to the panel at large. Anyone who would like to make a comment, but recognizing that we've got 5 minutes all together.
Mr. ERICKSON. Well, sir, I'll take first crack at it. I happen to be the U.S. member to the ICAO Committee on aviation and environmental protection and we discuss noise and emissions issues from a global perspective and address the standards that ICAO sets and they are the international standards and all ICAO, 185 ICAO members, by and large, comply with those standards. There is increasing interest in congested areas, such as Europe, for lower noise standards. We've been discussing that for some time. There is interest in seeing what the benefits of the Stage 3 phaseout are before we do that. I fully expect, following the CAEP 4 meeting in 1998, that this issue will come to the table and the group will begin studying possible noise reduction measures for the future. Same time, the group studies these issues, both from an environmental benefit standpoint and from a cost benefit standpoint, so we look very hard at the costs of implementing new standards, the effects on the existing fleet, which, after all, is the basis for funding new aircraft. So I expect that the Committee will be addressing the issue in the near future.
Mr. GORDON. Are there any penalties or
repercussions if a European country decided to, in certain airports that weren't in high
congestion areas, to reduce or raise the standards?
Mr. ERICKSON. Well, I can tell you that ICAO takes a very dim view of that and
Mr. GORDON. Well, does that, what does that mean?
Mr. ERICKSON. The reason that that's so
Mr. GORDON. Well, what's the impact of that?
Mr. ERICKSON. Of ICAO's taking a dim view?
Mr. GORDON. Yes, I mean is that about like me taking a dim view of what happened in the, whatever, UTLSU game, I mean
Mr. ERICKSON. It's a little bit like that. The standards set by ICAO are not mandatory as I, as I'm sure you're aware, but 185 nations have signed on to support them to the maximum extent and are required to report every 2 years, I believe it is, every measure, every standard that they're not complying with. Also, ICAO can withhold privileges of membership to the association and the ICAO council in the last year has begin seriously discussing how to make that more compelling for members.
Mr. GORDON. Anyone else have any comments on that international issue, please?
Mr. WHITEHEAD. I guess I'd like to make it, remembering that I'm the technology partner in this. One of the things that we feel very strongly about is, is that the United States, FAA and our industry, be in a position of technical strength and superiority, both so that, so that if countries or other entities decide to promote standards or regulations that are not consistent that, that there's technical evidence and scientific basis to argue for a rational solution instead of a solution based on ignorance or lack of knowledge and if there's a need to respond competitively to a different standard that our companies are in a technically superior position to do that and therefore discourage people using regulatory or local standards to try to gain a competitive edge. So, that's
Mr. GORDON. Where do we stand
internationally? I would assume that if a European country decided to set a higher standard
that they would want there to be some ability to meet it by probably a local manufacturer or
a European manufacturer. I mean, do they have superior ability now?
Mr. WHITEHEAD. I don't think so. No, I think that the U.S. engines out of Pratt and Whitney and General Electric are clearly on a par or better with the any manufacturer internationally.
Mr. GORDON. Anyone else with a quick timeframe here?
Mr. ROBESON. Yes, and the real problem is it costs 5 billion more or less, give or take a billion, depending on the size of the airplane, to develop the airframe. It's around 3 billion to develop a new engine and you develop it based on a certification basis that recognizes existing standards and you're looking at a program that you expect to have an economic life of not less than 10 and maybe 20 years.
With those kinds of investments and a time horizon of 10 years for a payback before you start really making any money on the investment, if your looking at a regulatory scheme which could pull the rug out from under you after 7 years or 8 years or some arbitrary number over which you have no control, you have to wonder, do I want to make this investment? That situation is made worse by this patchwork of regulation that you see happening in Europe which basically looks like a noise equivalent or environmental equivalent of beggar thy neighbor economic policies. We put in a stiff requirement at Schiphol or Zurich and it means the airplanes will go somewhere else, like maybe New York or London or we don't care, as long as it's not here.
And from a manufacturer's point of view, I'm still building an airplane that meets the current requirement. And that is why the industry so strongly supported an FAA funding mechanism which would cut funds off for that kind of local capriciousness in the States and we grandfathered a couple of airports that already had relatively more stringent requirements, such as Orange County, and the rest of them were told here's the level and it's a level that's necessary. It's just like in the days of the railroads when everybody got on a common time zone so they could operate.
Mr. GORDON. You, yes, sir.
Mr. HARRIS. Yes, I would like, I would simply like to support Bob's comments. I firmly believe that regulations, noise regulations, established through a partnership of our government and our industry, provides the best possible opportunity to maintain a competitive advantage, be it against Europe or against any other region of the world. If we had the technology and effectively and efficiently transferred that technology into policy and to do it on a level playing field, I think we come out ahead and we eliminate some of these sectors and vulcanization of standards that may lead to a distinct downturn in commerce and I think in our ability to sell these big-tail airplanes.
Mr. GORDON. Thank you.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Mr. Gordon. And now I'm very honored to recognize Mr. Cook.
Mr. COOK. Well, thank you. I certainly want to thank the panelists for being here today on this very important issue.
A number of pilots groups and others, association and union groups, have questioned some of the procedures on takeoff where pilots are required to throttle back as a noise abatement procedure. I'm not sure how common these procedures are and where they're implemented mostly. I would appreciate any comments about that, but also as to whether safety, if the traveling public has anything to be concerned about and at those very important takeoffs when they have to throttle back, opinions on any of that, I would appreciate.
Mr. ERICKSON. Yes, sir, Congressman, thank you for that question. The operational procedures are one of the three elements that, I believe, it was Bob Robeson mentioned. You can do something with source noise, you can do something with your land-use planning around the airport, you can also do something with the way the pilots operate the aircraft. We have for the last 15 years been involved in this third aspect that you raise. And mentioned earlier that FAA's number one mantra, and the thing they pay most attention to is safety and that has been true throughout the development of operational procedures to mitigate noise during those 15 years. In 1993, we actually had an industry group that was represented by the pilot organizations, operating pilots with safety as their number one concern, develop the current procedures in what we call, Advisory Circular 9153(a), which outlines the operational procedures for climbing an aircraft out in a way to minimize the noise impact on people on the ground.
So, I acknowledge your concern, it's certainly a legitimate one,
we shared it completely when we developed the procedures, we involved the industry who
actually wrote the draft regulatory document, the policy document I should say, that led to
the advisory circular that's currently in use at most of our Nation's largest airports with
noisy, with noise problems. So, I think we've addressed that issue and I know of not one
safety issue that's been raised since the development of those procedures as far as an actual
Mr. COOK. I'm sure the FAA would never allow a procedure they felt was unsafe, but is there any incident or accident or anything that's believed widely that has resulted from these procedures that I take it, are not at all major airports, but at many of the largest, most densely populated metropolitan airports?
Mr. ERICKSON. That's correct. I have actually flown those procedures. They're somewhat different than a normal procedure you would fly. They're no less safe in my estimation and I do not know of a single incident where a noise departure profile contributed, was a contributing factor, to any accident or incident.
Mr. COOK. Okay, and if I could also just get a sense of the question of the Chairman, that fuel, the amount of fuel contained on a plane, will affect the noise. Could you give us some quantitative criteria on that? I mean, is a noise, is the noise from a plane that's going to be going from Washington to Los Angeles going to be a lot louder on takeoff than one going to Chicago, for example? What is the basic quantifiable aspects of this, of this?
Mr. ERICKSON. Well, it depends on the weight of the aircraft, whether the weight is fuel, more passengers, cargo or
Mr. COOK. Assuming the same plane with just different fuel levels.
Mr. ERICKSON. If the aircraft weighs more, it will climb out on a lower profile, making more noise with less distance from people on the ground. I can't give you an exact quantitative number, but for, for say half full of gas versus full of gas on a typical airliner, my guess would be the noise exposure on the ground, the difference would be small in terms of a person perceiving the difference, but there would be a difference.
Mr. COOK. Thank you.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Mr. Cook.
I am now pleased to recognize Ms. Rivers.
Ms. RIVERS. Thank you.
Mr. Erickson, the NIH, National Institutes of Health, and the FAA have both weighed in on the number of people who are affected by airport noise, aircraft noise. FAA says 3.5 million, NIH says a whole lot more. The NIH uses a much lower decibel level as an indication of where impact first starts and they find much many more significant problems, physiological and psychological problems, associated with continued exposure than the FAA does. Who should I believe and why?
Mr. ERICKSON. I'm not aware of the National Institute of Health study, so I'm somewhat ignorant about, about their assumptions in the report. I can tell you from an auditory standpoint, we're quite confident about the auditory affects of airplane, of aircraft noise nationally and have the models that we're very, very confident are accurate in terms of the actual noise exposure of people on the ground. As far as the psychological or physiological aspects, I'm not an expert and I can't speak to those. I think the public health and welfare responsibilities fall primarily with the EPA.
Ms. RIVERS. Okay.
Mr. ERICKSON. However, you know, without seeing their report I feel somewhat ill-equipped to respond.
Ms. RIVERS. Okay, I had pulled it from excerpts from other things. I will try and get that to you so you can look at it. Along the same vein though, my understanding is that the FAA, in an effort to determine the impact of noise, averages it, averages the sound over the course of a 24-hour period, but of course, as human beings, that's not how we experience it. You know, there's the old saying that if you have a raging fire in front of you and an open window blowing snow behind you, on average, you feel great, but of course you don't. And so the question I have is, what are the, if you are experiencing high decibel levels and then they're planed outand I guess I'd go to Mr. MacGlashan to finish after youwhy do we use an average instead of dealing with the actual impact of the highest decibel level on the people who are experiencing it?
Mr. ERICKSON. Well, this is a very good
question and a very difficult question. The noise metric, the DNL metric, has probably been
looked at more and challenged more than anything I can think of other than children
watching television. It's been challenged in many, many academic fora, it's received an
awful lot of criticism and, to this day, no one has been able to generate a metric that is
better. The Federal Interagency Committee on Aircraft Noise is the group that considers
such issues. It's composed of members of EPA, FAA, the military, various experts in the
noise arena throughout government and industry and they, to this day, support DNL as the
best metric that's out there.
And in response to Mr. MacGlashan's concern about individual noise events not being accurately reflected by DNL, let me give you just one or two examples. If I were to go out by a runway, and say I were a mile-and-a-half from the beginning of the takeoff roll of an F15 fighter airplane, and that airplane took off, and I measured the noise, and it was absolutely totally silent for the remainder of the day. One event, total silence the rest of the day. That single eventwould anyone care to make a guess of what that wasit would actually be something on the order of 82 DNL which puts it in the severe exposure for residents in and around airports. My point in making the example and asking the question is that DNL may not be the perfect metric. I don't know what the perfect metric is, but I do know that a better one hasn't been found and I do know that it is very, very sensitive and very responsive to single, single events.
Ms. RIVERS. Okay, thank you. Mr. MacGlashan?
Mr. MACGLASHAN. I guess I would have to disagree with that. The 65 DNL was established quite sometime ago and at that time I don't think anybody sufficiently recognized the health potential of what aircraft noise was actually doing. And in some, if I took a cynical attitude about the thing, I might be inclined to say that the reason it was picked, because it would make a nice low number and therefore, everybody thinks, would think it's not too bad because typical community noise might be 45 and 65 is, for the average layperson, is not too much higher. But in actuality, I think that the peakthe peak of the noisy event, plus the repetition, how many times it occurs, needs to be looked at in light of the health risk that we're facing with these things. I mean, it's just been within probably the last 10 years or so that the medical community is really beginning to focus on that issue, and most of them are saying we've got to do something about that.
Certainly it's not going to be an easy exercise to come up with a
new metric. I'm not trying to make it simple. But I think it's imperative that we do,
because until we get some sort of a metric that we can all agree has real meaning, then we're
not going to be any place, and nobody's going to believe the present DNL metric at all. And
so there's going to be continual battles on what that should be.
Ms. RIVERS. Okay, thank you. I have a question for both representatives from the FAA and NASA. I recognized or noticed with some alarm that, starting in Fiscal Year 1998 your budgeted dollars for the Noise Reduction Technology Program draft goes down in 1999; it goes down in Fiscal Year 2000.
Did the Administration ask for more money for these programs? I mean, are these funded at or below the administrative request?
Mr. WHITEHEAD. I can speak for the NASA budget. Our 1998 request I think is being honored with 34 or slightly more, million dollars, and in 1999 it's $29 million. That profileand then it drops from that.
That profile is characteristic of a systems technology program in which you fund up but some heavy investments because it's technology, and then bring the program down as the technology starts to mature.
As I mentioned earlier, we've developed a planning wedge against our longer range goals that we will have as of March of 1998, then a team planning a future effort. So you should see in 2000 in our request a continued and ramping up investment in our noise reduction program.
We have what we think is the right investment to accomplish our advance subsonic technology programsnoise reduction programswhich will meet the 10-year goal. And then we will put in place with our next budget request, the request for the program that we think is required to meet the 20-year goal.
Ms. RIVERS. So your expectation is, is
that in fact there should not be an actual reduction in dollars available for continued noise
reduction technology development.
Mr. WHITEHEAD. That's right. I wouldn't say that we don't see a case for a 1-year drop as we finish one program and start and ramp up the other, but if you give me a couple of years to integrate the investment that we think is required is probably at least on an annual basis. I hesitate to say that until we put in place the program that we think is required to advance beyond what's a pretty aggressive noise reduction program.
Ms. RIVERS. Okay. Is that true also to FAA? Is my time up, Madam Chairwoman?
Mrs. MORELLA. We're going to go another round, though, in a few minutes.
Ms. RIVERS. Okay, thank you.
Mrs. MORELLA. So, thank you.
Mr. McHale has joined us from Pennsylvania.
Would you like to ask any questions, Mr. McHale?
Mr. MCHALE. I would, Madam Chairwoman, thank you very much.
Gentlemen, thank you for your testimony. I appreciate the comments that each of you has made. My questions, however, will be directed to Dr. Whitehead, and they will basically ask you to expand upon your testimony on rotorcraft, as it appears on page 7 of your prepared text.
Dr. Whitehead, I'm also a member of the National Security Committee, and to have spent a number of years as a marine and a marine reservist, and having a very strong interest in tilt rotor aircraft.
As you may be aware, over the past 2 years we've begun to make a serious effort on the military side of the House to move toward fairly rapid acquisition of the V22. I come from an area in Pennsylvania that is heavily urbanized, and we have a very fine regional airport. That airport for the most part however is landblocked by continuing development in the immediate adjacent vicinity. And so as a member of the National Security Committee I watch us moving forward on the V22. I think that's an essential step toward the replacement of the, now outdated, CH46 helicopter; but I don't feel entirely comfortable that we are moving forward rapidly enough in the application of civilian tilt rotor technology. So all of that is kind of a lengthy introduction.
I would welcome your comments concerning the challenges in
the civilian use of tilt rotor aircraft, specifically the noise levels that are inherent in the use
of that kind of aircraft. I'm well aware of the comments that appear in your testimony that,
by using vertiports and carefully controlling the access points and glide paths into vertiports,
we can dramatically decrease the decibel level. But I'd ask you to simply expand upon your
testimony and tell us, particularly from an acoustical standpoint, are there any
insurmountable challenges in the civilian application of the tilt rotor aircraft?
Mr. WHITEHEAD. No.
Mr. MCHALE. Thank you.
Mr. WHITEHEAD. I could go on to say that there are three challenges that we consider critical path. They are not insurmountable. One is simply technology for a quiet rotor. Any given weight tilt rotor use technology in the rotor as a noise generator, to make that rotor as quiet as possible and still perform as an effective rotor.
Two, a civilian cockpitthat lends itself to routine civilian operations. And that includes being able to do the kinds of procedures on a routine basis with civil pilots that would allow acceptable noise approaches and take-offs.
And three, engine outone engine out, to make sure that the contingency power and the way the drive train is designed will permit the kind of safety that everyone would expect that you would have to have for operations.
Both of the three principal elements of the short-haul tilt rotor are part of the Advance Subsonic Technology Program today. As in the case with our other noise reduction programs, we're looking at where we go from there.
I have to say that the step that Boeing has taken with the Model 609 is, in my humble opinion, a step that's much more profound than simply the development of a tilt rotor that size, in that it will put that type of vehicle, not only in the marketplace but in the public eye, and the competence to invest, and ride, and build infrastructure for that I think will be a critical element; maybe the most important thing that's happened in pushing towards the civil application of this kind of thing.
Mr. MCHALE. I wish we could highlight
that and put an exclamation point at the end. I am very encouraged and fully concurrent in
the comment that you have just made.
Could you give us in that context kind of a word picture, applying it to an airport such as the one in my district, but really I think it has international application? And that is, we have an airport that is a very fine regional airport, but clearly the passenger load is going to increase dramatically in the years ahead. We've begun exploring the possibility of landbanking adjacent properties in order to build future runways.
Following up on the closing comment that you made a moment ago, when we look at the need for increased lift capability for passengers, and we examine the potential options out there in the future, in terms of a heavier reliance on conventional aircraft versus the utilization of the tilt rotor technology, which technology would likely have a better impact upon the surrounding community in terms of noise levels, assuming we can maximize the safeguards in either case?
So as we look at Lehigh Valley International Airport, and we consider new runways, and new fixed-wing aircraft, and the noise levels that we anticipate for that type of passenger conveyance; and we compare it to the acquisition and implementation of the tilt rotor aircraft, using vertiports, using careful pathways into the vertiport, improving the technology for the design of the rotor itself, where does the community come out in terms of benefit when we analyze that benefit from the standpoint of the anticipated noise levels?
Mr. WHITEHEAD. Boy. Okay. That's a complicated question. Let me try two examples, and the first one's not going to be your case.
If you have a congested airport like National or like Logan, the best thing to do is don't go there. That helps the landside, helps the airside, helps the noise, helps everything.
You go to Logan
Mrs. MORELLA. I think Mr. MacGlashan would agree with you.
Mr. WHITEHEAD. But that is right. If you want to go to Restonbad case because you'd probably fly to Dulles. If you want to go somewhere that you would fly to National and drive to, the great advantage in a congested area is with a tilt rotor and a proper infrastructure, you don't go to National, you don't go to Logan, you don't go to O'Hare; you go to where you want to get.
If you have a case that you have in your community, where you have to build runways, they are going to be hard to adapt in the future, except to build more. It's a large fixed cost.
The advantage of tilt rotors there is that, again, it's a distributed system. The leverage that you have or who invests in the infrastructure, or where you put it, and the flexibility of that infrastructure, and the distribution of the noisethat you make everyone unhappy, maybeis a more distributed system. So you don't create a big noise inception site, and all the noise approached that comes to that.
So if you can solve all of thosenot insurmountable, but challenging problems of introducing this airplane and its infrastructure, I think you have a great deal of flexibility to deal with moving passengers, the economics of going point to point, and the environmental issues. And that's kind of the point of working the systemthe whole system that this thing's on.
Mr. MCHALE. In closing, I again fully concur in your comments.
I've been a skeptic with regard to the need for landbanking for additional runways at our airport. I don't mean to focus on one airport and one district; I think there are many such airports throughout the Nation.
I think the tilt rotor technology offers an enormous capability to minimize the adverse impact upon adjacent developed propertiesparticularly residential propertieswhile providing to an individual community, the essential passenger lift that is necessary for a vibrant local economy. We have no choice, we must go there; it's home. And those are the businesses that we hope to develop. Those are the passengers we hope to bring in and transport to other locations.
But it seems to me that rather than looking backward on a
technology that has been dominantthat is, fixed-wind aircraft flying into horizontal
runwaysthat we can achieve the same lift capability at a much lower cost in terms of
infrastructure; a much lower decibel impact upon the surrounding community, by moving
rapidly toward tilt rotor.
Mr. WHITEHEAD. I think there's probably a mix, but don't disagree.
Mr. MCHALE. Okay. Well, I thank you for your comments.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thanks, Mr. McHale.
Let me ask, Mr. Robeson, since you do represent the aerospace industry, do you think that the views and the concerns of the aerospace industry are adequately represented in the NASA/FAA Advanced Subsonic Technology Program that is working on the quieter aircraft technology? I'm asking you sort of like, what is the appropriate role of these agencies, and are they doing it in a correct a balance?
Mr. ROBESON. Well, the roles are from one agency to the next a little different. As it's been alluded to, the FAA is much more focused on operational requirements. They're responsible for certifying both the noise levels and compliance with part 36, which is the noise regulation, as well as the safety requirements, both operationally and for the design of the aircraft, whereas NASA is a little bit more blue-sky, long-term development.
Our problem is that we'd always like to throw more money at the subsonic and other NASA programs, but that's not the budgetary climate we live under. Given the constraints that are imposed upon us in all facets of our life in aviation because of budget realities, we're pretty satisfied with where NASA/FAA is with the subsonic program.
I think the way to look at what NASA does is basically they are kind of an enabling technology body, and once the technology is proven out as technically feasible, then it's up to the industry to figure out how to get that economically into the system.
Mrs. MORELLA. Since you're the driving
force, you're in a good position to respond to that.
Dr. Harris, let me just ask youthey're doing a lot of modifications of aircraft to make them safe from Stage 2 to Stage 3. Some of this aircraft is like 25 years old. In terms of noise abatement, is it not wiser to use new aircraft for Stage 3? Is there a difference in the noise factor? I mean, are there differences in that? Is this a valid question to pose? Do you convert retrofitwhatever you doto the old to make it into Stage 3, or do you create for Stage 3?
Mr. HARRIS. Madam Chairwoman, certainly it's a valid question. I think there are many factors that go into determining whether an airline or an operator will decide to retrofit or go with a whole new aircraft, and the factors will speak for themselves.
I believe that there's been a major investment in existing aircraft, that some of those aircraft have the light probably exceeding the time in which they have already been in use; and provided we can find a retrofit that is consistent with the regulations for noise, that also provides an improvement in safety, and the existing or our modified airplane will fit into our air space system. Then it is worth of consideration in terms of using or going forward with the retrofit. It must also be, after the retrofit, fuel efficient. It must be competitive on that basis as well with new aircraft.
So there are many factors. And I don't think there's a snap answer that I could offer with any confidence that retrofit is always better than new airplanes, or that retrofits are always inferior to
Mrs. MORELLA. Are they generally less noise-efficient?
Mr. HARRIS. I would think thatbut you give me a green field and say, go out and build a new airplane, I could build one that's a lot quieter than the one you can retrofit.
Mrs. MORELLA. Okay, I think you've
Mr. ROBESON. Some of the retrofit technology involves hush kitting; some of it actually involves re-engining airplanes. You get all different kinds of answers.
We're looking at a situation. For example, for an airplane on approach you get about as much noise from the air frame itself as you are from the engine. So re-engining and hush kitting on approach only gets you so far.
I think ultimately it's a question for the operator as to what is economically doable. You reach a point where it costs a lot to maintain the airplane, you're looking at how much it costs you to hush-kit it, is there an efficiency penalty.
One of the ways you meet Stage 3, if it's available to the operator, is to impose a permanent weight restriction on the airplane, and you can't go back and then re-certify it a higher gross weight.
All those things are taken into account if someone makes a determination as to whether they're going to hush kit, buy a new airplane, or what they're going to do.
I think the important thing to remember is that there is a certification level. It's the current Stage 3 level which is roughly equivalent to the ICAO requirement. And if you make a design which meets that requirement, then that design is airworthy, it's certifiable, and it should be permitted to operate. And there's a question of goodness about whether you're 3 dB below the level, or one dB below the level. The fact is you meet the requirement.
Mrs. MORELLA. You know something that I think coming through here too is that, whether or not we have the wrong metricand I guess we do have the wrong metric; whether we know what all the health effects are, and we hear something from NIH, but maybe more needs to be done.
What are the sanctions? Are there any sanctions? Is there any
enforcement? I don't find that there is from what I hear, and from what I've heard even
before this hearing.
There is this office of EPA, that was the EPA Office of Noise Abatement that really is like non-existent now because no money has been put into it. And there is a legislation that I am co-sponsoring that would try to get a little bit of luster and strength to revitalize this office, but even at that the amount of money is probably not adequate to continue to do it.
Could I have your suggestions, gentlemenall of youin terms of, where do we go from here for proper noise abatement. And I know we're talking about money, and I can tell you that we have putour Committee, we authorize for the FAA, $3.6 million, and $2.8 million was actually appropriated, and so we understand the need for that.
But what do we do about enforcing? What do you suggest? Anybody have any suggestions? I mean, do you think that the answer is in this Office of Noise Abatement? Something else maybe? Talk about a hush kit.
Mr. MACGLASHAN. Well, I guess I feel that we're not going to make any real progress on solving this problem as long as the airline industry or the aviation industry is allowed to run open loop. And unfortunately it seems to be human nature that, because of the competitive nature of our society that they're going to go for the bottom line, and that's understandable. But the people who are living underneath it have a case also, and it's their quality of lifeas this panel certainly has indicatedthat is being affected.
And in terms of what kind of sanctions should be applied, you know, I couldn't answer that right off the top of my head, but until we get some major of control on the situation, I don't think it's going to change much.
I mean, as you have said yourself, we have Stage 3 airplanes
coming. The numbers that I quoted today are for the last 9 months of this last year, and yet
National and Dulles have about 75 percent Stage 3 already. So we're almost there, and as
somebody pointed out, yes, but it's at Stage 2 they're providing 60 percent of the noise
problem. That may be true; I can't argue that point just off the top of my head. But until
we get some sort of control on the situation, I'm afraid we're just going to be whistling in
Mrs. MORELLA. Apparently the rest of you feel that that's going to be the situation, so perhaps you're more sanguine or optimistic about it.
Mr. HARRIS. Madam Chairwoman
Mrs. MORELLA. Dr. Harris.
Mr. HARRIS. I would like to respond.
First, I think the Nation really should askor understand the magnitude of the problem. What precisely are the health issues? Are we talking about a situation comparable to the tobacco industry, in terms of health situations that lead to possible death? And if so, are we looking at sanctions of that level, or arrangements of that kind? Are we talking about a different kind of health problem?
I don't think that's been defined to a degree that we're all willing to agree to at least, as to the level of the health issue. Is it truly life threatening, or is it a nuisance, or something in between, or even less than a nuisance?
So I think that needs to be settled. And once that's settled I think we can find, or define, agree to, a set of sanctions. In the long run sanctions appropriate to the harm or potential harm done would be appropriate.
Mrs. MORELLA. Mr. Robeson?
Mr. ROBESON. I don't think it's a steady-state situation.
Among other things, there is tremendous competition among the manufacturers to provide the most quiet product that they can; that they can sell to the airlines. It is a sales tool, and there should be no about it. The second thing is, that the history doesn't tell us that the industry is not interested in creating quieter airplanes. I mean, the statistics tell us that the airplanes are significantly quieter than they were 20, 10, 30 years ago.
Now, what it also tells us is that there was a step-wise function
when we went to the high bypass fans, which hadwe went to for fuel reasons, but had
a nice benefit, and it also helped quiet the airplane. The question is, what's the next big
step-wise function like that that's out there, and that's what we're looking for.
But I could tell you, we're spending a lot of money, and a lot of man-hours and women-hours, looking for solutions to this. So I have a bit of a problem with the idea that the industry is just not interested in doing anything, except provide for the bottom line.
Now, we owe something to our shareholders. The other thing though I have to say is, we've provided one heck of a transportation situation, which is affordable to masses of people, and it wasn't in 1960. All you have to do is get on an airplane, or go out to the airport and look at it. And I think it was Wes who said, there is another quality of life issue here, and that is affordable transportation for the population of this country, and for the world at large. And it's something that has to be figured into the mix.
Mrs. MORELLA. Would anyone else like to comment on that?
Mr. ERICKSON. Well, I guess, Madam Chairwoman, just to remind folks that we have made, and are making significant progress, if we look at any particular person or location on the ground, 10, 15 or 20 years ago, that person is being exposed to much less noise on an averagemuch less noise; near half the noise that they were 20 years ago. So, it's easy to forget that looking to the future.
Look at the Triple 7 aircraft that was recently certified by FAA. That aircraft with the GE enginesthe way they're certified is they're measured at three measurement points. Each of those on average is 8 dB less than the Stage 3 limit. What that means in practical terms, is you could fly four aircraft in formation that meet the Stage 3 new latest noise limit, and they stillI'm sorry. You could fly 4 Boeing Triple 7 aircraft in formation, and they wouldn't make nearly as much noise4 at the same timeas an aircraft that just meets the latest Stage 3 noise standard. This is significant progress. This is leading toward quieter areas.
In regard to the EPA, I think they have a most valid
responsibility for public health and welfare. My suggestion would be that if a noise office is
opened on EPA, they should look at all sources of noise, because the public is exposed to
many, many sources of noise, only one of which is aviation, and aviation is moving in the
right direction. Thank you.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Mr. Erickson.
I know I'm taking longer than my 5 minutes. But my very last question is just simplysince I see Betty Ann Kane here alsoto Mr. MacGlashan.
How would you characterize the cooperative relationship among citizen groups affected by aircraft noise, federal, state, and local governing bodies? Would you like to comment on that?
Mr. MACGLASHAN. I think in most casesat least from my knowledge basethat the citizens who are sort of filing against the noise problem, are in an adversarial situation with most of the localwith the airport operators. It's sad to say, even with FAA. And in response to that, the noise groups are actually, as we speak practically, are banning together to form a national group in order to lend a little more weight to their opinions on this whole issue.
So, as Mr. Kreider in his book said, one of the curves he has in there is the fact that, above a certain level you begin to get people banding together to take legal action. And what this national group is basically doing is starting that process, except on a national basis rather than just a local basis.
So it's not a good situation at this point. I will say to the FAA's credit, that our group locally here has met with them to discuss any number of problems, and in some cases they have cooperated, and we have resolved a few problems. But the overall picture is not too good.
Mrs. MORELLA. I'm going to now defer to Ms. Rivers.
Ms. RIVERS. Thank you. I have a couple
of questions that are really designed to help me understand how we got to where we are
today, and where we might be going in the future. And I listened with a lot of interest to the
last round of questioning about sanctions, and imperatives, and that sort of thing.
And the question I have is, what has brought us to today? Has it been: (a) an industry who on its own wanted to make changes; (b) an industry that made fortuitous changes when they found doing something for the bottom line actually had an impact on the sound; or do we have a lot of changes in place because there were in fact, legislative imperatives, and once there was a reasonwhether it's a legislative imperative or ultimately a sanction for doing sothe industry made changes?
Are any of those or any combination of those things in fact what brought us to the point that we are at today? And is any one thing more important than any other?
I guess really the biggest question in my mind is, would be where we are today had the government not stepped in to demand it?
Mr. WHITEHEAD. Again, the technologist speaking, I think that the taxpayer, through both the conscientious elected officials and investing in research and technology, have given the industry and the standards in regulation setting bodies the opportunity to find ways to gain multiple benefits, or win win, byas Mr. Robeson saidgoing with the new technology for primarily economic purposes, by gaining collateral benefits in noise, and then continuing to improve those noise capabilities; and by giving the industry options in which they could use the benefits, both competitive and public relations, of being a better neighbor at the same time they were improving their bottom line, has been a success story.
Ms. RIVERS. So do you think we would be phasing out the noisier aircraft today in the absence of an imperative to do so?
Mr. WHITEHEAD. No. I'm going to stand up and be a proponent for our democratic process, and our activist elected officials, and citizenry, and say, debate is a wonderful thing. Page 47
We are served by multiple good in aviation. The ability to
safely and reliably get where we want to go, and affordablythat's pretty
importantand to be able to do that in a way that's been environmentally acceptable;
more environmentally acceptable in some arenas than others, obviously.
But still, the continuing debate among all the segments of our Nation, of where I think we find the best compromise roots, which is what path we're on, to satisfy the longest, largest segment of our Nation's population.
Ms. RIVERS. Mr. Robeson, did you want to speak to that?
Mr. ROBESON. I think the short answer to your question is yes, in that all of the factors he cited play some role. The decision to move to an all Stage 3 fleet by a particular operator, they will reach different conclusions about how and when to do that. And you can tell by looking at the fleet mix today.
I think that it's also evidentand you have to be blind not to see itis that environmental issues and concerns are a growth industry. I mean, I'm not a making a judgment call there as to whether that's good, bad or indifferent, but it is what it is. And our companies recognize it, and that's why there is a lot of attention being paid to environmental issues on noise, engine emissions, plant emissions, processes used in manufacture, maintenanceacross the board.
So I think there's a certain momentum behind this, and it's always good to be prodded and reminded by elected officials that we do have a responsibility, but I don't think that it something which iswhich we're forgetting in any event.
Ms. RIVERS. Let me follow up with that with a bottom-line question, in the sense that I'm trying to understand what we can expect in the future, based on some of the economics of this. And this is not a negative statement about any of it; it's just I'm trying to understandgiven some of the numbers that we've heard youfor example, Mr. Robeson saidI think you said that it was $3 billion to develop a new air frame.
Mr. ROBESON. About $5 billion for an
air frame, and about $3 billion for an engine from the ground up.
Ms. RIVERS. Okay. At the every mostthe biggest year I have on my chart, the Reduction Technology Program had about $35 billion most. That's going to be next year. That's going to be the highestat least in the chart that I seebetween the two programs.
Mr. ROBESON. Million.
Ms. RIVERS. Million, million. That's exactly my point, is millions as opposed to billions.
When we are looking at millions to develop technology that will ultimately cost billions, do we actually havehave we established a pipeline that's going to take us where we want to go?
Mr. ROBESON. Let me make an overall comment, and then defer to NASA and FAA, regarding what the realthe exact number should be.
The fact that they're spending $35 million, or $40 or $50 million, doesn't necessarily follow it by throwing $500 million at the problem, you're going to get any better result. It depends on how the program is designed. There are only so many engineers that are experts in this area; pretty soon you've reached diminishing returns. So the question is, what's the optimal spending level for any particular research program that you're doing, and it doesn't necessarily equate to the fact that it cost a billion dollars or $5 billion to design an air frame.
I mean, I will tell you one thing, and that is, that of that $5 billion, about 10 percent of that is merely certification testing costs.
Ms. RIVERS. Okay.
Did you want to speak to that too? Dr. Whitehead.
Mr. WHITEHEAD. I'm going to commit
heresy for a NASA program manager. I think we've had the opportunity to make the
investments we thought are necessary, and be fully supported in the environmental area, and
we've done that. So I think it's what Mr. Robeson says.
We think that we have the investment within NASA's mid and long-range research that we need. If we have an area to improve onand we've concentrated very heavily on that in the last 5 years sincethe gentleman on my left that provided the leadership for usis to get those research results into the hands of people who can turn them into improvements quicker.
And that doesn't take money always; it takes some technology to lower the risks, and to get people to understand how to apply it. But mostly it's getting everybody to work together from the start. So, I think that, everything considered, we're making the right investment.
Ms. RIVERS. So you would say, that in terms of this subsidized scientific pipeline, we're doing what we need to do; and that ultimately we're getting information out that then the commercial airlines can benefit from, and use to move us forward?
Mr. WHITEHEAD. I think so. I think we can, and we're trying hard to do a better job of getting the technology into play quicker. But that ultimately becomes a business decision or a standards decision for others. So we just need to make sure they know what can and can't be done technically at any given time.
Ms. RIVERS. Thank you. Thank you all.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Ms. Rivers.
I said it was my last question, but I just can't resist, since we've now talked about free flight.
Does free flight have an impact on noise? We had a hearing not too long ago where that was discussed in terms of what they're using. I think my recollection is, a couple of trial spots, like Hawaii, Alaska, and I'm quite interested in your response?
Would you like to start us off, Mr. Erickson?
Mr. ERICKSON. Yes, ma'am. The free flight concept is still creating itself as we speak. But largely it's based on more efficient routing, and more efficient procedures for aircraft than we have on our current air traffic system. I think it provides a lot of opportunities, not only for noise solutions to some of our problems; it also presents noise challenges to us. But probably the biggest beneficiary area will be in the area of emissions. As I think everyone is aware, aircraft contribute somewhat to the emissions on our planet, and through advanced air traffic systems, we can make a significant step change in the emissions of aircraft by operating them more efficiently. And I won't go into the details of that because this is more about noise.
With the advanced air traffic systems, it allows the aircraft to fly more quickly from the point of departure to destination. That's less time in the air; that's less time that an aircraft is making noise. So on an overall standpoint there will be some percentage increase and benefit.
A bigger benefit is possible through the very precise navigation that's expected with this new free flight system; CNSATM kinds of systems, where the aircraft can be flown on very, very precise routings using satellite navigation to place the aircraft within a few feet, at any point in time, where you want it to be. So there's an opportunity there to fly aircraft over less noise-sensitive areas.
The challenge that comes with that of course iswith the challenge to fly over less noise sensitive areas, you also have the opportunity to fly more direct routings, which will tend to disperse the current noise.
Citizens who are not now impacted, even if they have a small increase in noise level, they're sensitive to that increase in noise level, and we generally don't get cheering from those who've been relieved. So that's a challenge to managing the dispersion of aircraft.
Mrs. MORELLA. You would have sort of
a scatter plan.
Mr. ERICKSON. It will have the possibility of flying direct routing; the most efficient routing from where I want to leave to where I want to go. The current aircraft system takes aircraft down airways with bends in them; takes aircraftnot necessarily on exactly the right altitude, because controllers must separate them.
This new system will have a mighty computer that is going to aid the ability to put those aircraft closer to their optimum location from maximum efficiency.
Mrs. MORELLA. I appreciate you telling us your feeling about it.
Yes, indeed, Dr. Whitehead.
Mr. WHITEHEAD. We have a case study about that. It was called the New Jersey something, and a few people in New Jersey were really mad because all the airplanes came over the house, so they distributed them, and made everyone in New Jersey mad.
But I really wanted to try just a different comment. There is no question that aviationcommercial aviationreally wants to grow as we go into the 21st Century, globally. As the economy globalizes there is no real alternative to a good aviation transportation system that's rapid, safe, etc.
So things like free flight that are going to make systems more productive, and allow the systems to go, is going to put pressure on environmental, it's going to put pressure on the emissions, it's going to put pressure on affordability.
If you try to solve any one of those by themselves, I think we're going to have a problem. If we don't get a better global air traffic system, there won't be a bigger environmental problem, because we'll get constrained, and aviation won't grow. But if it does grow, and we don't do something about environment, we're going to be up against a lot of legitimate concerns.
So I think that everyone who believes in aviationthat's
concerned about its impact and its benefits, is going to have to continue this discussion on
this debate. I mean that's government, industry, private citizens, everyone. I think we'll be
Mrs. MORELLA. Any final comments from anyone? Mr. MacGlashan?
Mr. MACGLASHAN. Yes, I would like to speak to that free flight thing for just one point, I think.
For instance, if you wanted to fly from BWI to Atlanta, and you did a free flight type of operationand we put it right over the middle of Washington, DC., because that's the direct linethere has been some discussion, I think, in the FAA circlesand I would leave it to these gentlemen to verify itthat at one point they were going toI'll use the word exemptthe TCA areas from having just free flight going through willy nilly. So I would leave that comment.
There is one other comment which goes to the GPS aspects, where you can put the plane within a foot or two on the same path practically all the time. And this was brought home to me because I had a man call me from Falls Church, who said that, up until recently the planes would be arriving at National Airport, but they would arriving in a band of about 2 miles wide; some of them over his house, some of them over a mile away and so forth.
He said all of a sudden all the planes began arriving exactly over the top of his chimney, because they were using GPS, and they could put it right there on the button. So there is some other factors that we need to be cognizant of.
Mrs. MORELLA. Dr. Harris.
Mr. HARRIS. Madam Chairwoman and members of the Subcommittee, my closing comments are simply as follows. Aviation is a winner for this country. It is the one area that we have no equal, compared to, for example, automobiles, or electronics, or ship building.
We would be better served to take a total systems approach to
our problems, for safety of air space, efficiency with emissions, both noise and
non-pollutants, and giving appropriate consideration. And I would hope that this Committee,
and my colleagues at NASA, and the FAA, would find ways to improve all of those areas to
ensure our continued leadership.
Mrs. MORELLA. No doubt, we need that cooperative concentrated ethic by all; one of commitment.
I'm reminded of the best phrase that was stated by a 101-year old Veteran of World War I, when they dedicated the Women's Memorial last Saturday101 years of age, and she said, ''Go for it.''
And so I thank you all for being here; Mr. Erickson, Dr. Whitehead, Dr. Harris, Mr. Robeson, and Mr. MacGlashan. I appreciate it very much, and I hope you will continue to keep us informed in terms of what's happening, and there may be some other questions we may want to direct to you with your permission. Thank you.
This meeting is now adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:15 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.]
[The following material was received for the record:]
Insert offset folios 46-69
TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE AIRCRAFT NOISE
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
OCTOBER 21, 1997
Printed for the use of the Committee on Science
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin, Chairman
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HARRIS W. FAWELL, Illinois
CONSTANCE A. MORELLA, Maryland
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico
JOE BARTON, Texas
KEN CALVERT, California
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan**
DAVE WELDON, Florida
MATT SALMON, Arizona
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota
MARK FOLEY, Florida
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
CHARLES W. ''CHIP'' PICKERING, Mississippi
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
MERRILL COOK, Utah
PHIL ENGLISH, Pennsylvania
GEORGE R. NETHERCUTT, JR., Washington
TOM A. COBURN, Oklahoma
PETE SESSIONS, Texas
GEORGE E. BROWN, Jr., California RMM*
RALPH M. HALL, Texas
BART GORDON, Tennessee
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
TIM ROEMER, Indiana
ROBERT E. ''BUD'' CRAMER, Jr., Alabama
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
PAUL McHALE, Pennsylvania
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
ALCEE L. HASTINGS, Florida
LYNN N. RIVERS, Michigan
ZOE LOFGREN, California
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
MICHAEL F. DOYLE, Pennsylvania
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
BILL LUTHER, Minnesota
WALTER H. CAPPS, California
DEBBIE STABENOW, Michigan
BOB ETHERIDGE, North Carolina
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
DARLENE HOOLEY, Oregon
TODD R. SCHULTZ, Chief of Staff
BARRY C. BERINGER, Chief Counsel
PATRICIA S. SCHWARTZ, Chief Clerk/Administrator
VIVIAN A. TESSIERI, Legislative Clerk
ROBERT E. PALMER, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Technology
CONSTANCE A. MORELLA, Maryland, Chairwoman
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
MERRILL COOK, Utah
BART GORDON, Tennessee
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
LYNN N. RIVERS, Michigan
DEBBIE STABENOW, Michigan
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
PAUL McHALE, Pennsylvania
MICHAEL F. DOYLE, Pennsylvania
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
*Ranking Minority Member
C O N T E N T S
October 21, 1997:
James D. Erickson, Director, Office of Environment and Energy, Federal Aviation Administration
Robert E. Whitehead, Associate Administrator for Aeronautics and Space Transportation Technology, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Wesley L. Harris, Federal Aviation Administration, Research, Engineering and Development Advisory Committee, and Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Robert Robeson, Vice President, Civil Aviation, Aerospace Industries Association of America
Don MacGlashan, Member, Board of Directors, Citizens for the Abatement of Airport Noise