CONGRESSIONAL RECORD—SENATE S11504 December 7, 2006


By Mr. LAUTENBERG:

S. 4109. A bill to amend title 49, United States Code, to prohibit the operation of certain aircraft not complying with stage 3 noise levels; to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Mr. President, I rise today to introduce a bill which would greatly improve the quality of life for many residents of New Jersey, and people across America, by reducing aircraft noise. The Aircraft Noise Reduction Act of 2006 would greatly reduce unnecessary levels of noise pollution by phasing out usage of the loudest aircraft still operating. I have long had a strong interest in this issue; indeed, I first introduced legislation calling for the phase-out of older, noisier aircraft in 1990, and since then, significant progress has been made. As we face an influx of many new aircraft to our system—some 5,000 new very light jets, VLJs, are expected to enter the U.S. aviation market and our airspace in the next decade—now is the time to rid our skies of the older, noisier planes.

For purposes of rating aircraft noise levels, aircraft have to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency noise standards classified as ‘‘stages’’: stage 1 and stage 2 noise levels are the loudest, while stage 3 and stage 4 (standards adopted just last year are the quietest. Commercial stage 1 aircraft were phased out by 1985, and Congress mandated the retirement of commercial stage 2 aircraft by 2000. However, these regulations only applied to aircraft weighing more than 75,000 pounds; this means that there are still many loud business jets still in service. The legislation I am introducing today would finally bring closure to this issue by phasing out the use of all remaining stage 1 and stage 2 aircraft in the United States.

The benefits of this total phase-out will be abundant. On average, older, noisier stage 2 aircraft are twice as loud as newer, quieter, stage 3 planes. Unfortunately, at Teterboro Airport in my home State of New Jersey, one of the largest general aviation airports in the country, loud stage 2 planes have been common until recently. This contributed greatly to the noise pollution problems experienced in New Jersey communities, and hurt property values for many citizens. It’s precisely why it is critically important to work toward a fleet devoid of stage 1 and stage 2 aircraft. This issue has particular resonance in New Jersey, because Teterboro Airport and Morristown Airport, among others, are located in densely populated areas. Stage 1 and 2 aircraft flying into these airports constitute an unnecessary daily nuisance for, literally, hundreds of thousands of my constituents, and I believe it is time to take decisive action to correct the problem. Voluntarily banning these aircraft from one airport will only force them to use another local airport, so I believe that a nationwide ban is necessary.

Furthermore, Mr. President, this bill would not only help decrease aircraft noise; it will also promote energy conservation. On average, stage 2 aircraft use 30 percent more fuel than otherwise comparable stage 3 jets, and passage of this bill would eliminate usage of many of the most fuel-inefficient aircraft still operational in America. My bill takes an approach which is sensitive to the economic hardship of communities who want to allow these aircraft to continue in use. Individual airports would still be allowed to opt- out of this measure by choosing to accommodate these noisier business jets.

Also, the act would not take effect until fully 3 years after enactment, allowing ample time for businesses to adapt to the new regulations.

Mr. President, I believe that this bill represents a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to control aircraft noise, and I urge my colleagues to support the legislation.

I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD following my remarks.

There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

S. 4109

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Aircraft Noise Reduction Act of 2006’’.

SEC. 2. OPERATION OF AIRCRAFT NOT MEETING STAGE 3 NOISE LEVELS.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Subchapter II of chapter 475 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

‘‘§ 47534. Prohibition on operating certain aircraft weighing 75,000 pounds or less not complying with stage 3 noise levels

‘‘(a) PROHIBITION.—Except as provided in subsection (b), (c), or (d), a person may not operate a civil subsonic turbojet with a maximum weight of 75,000 pounds or less to or from an airport in the United States unless the Secretary of Transportation finds that the aircraft complies with stage 3 noise levels.

‘‘(b) EXCEPTION.—Subsection (a) shall not apply to aircraft operated only outside the 48 contiguous States.

‘‘(c) OPT-OUT.—Subsection (a) shall not apply at an airport where the airport operator has notified the Secretary that it wants to continue to permit the operation of civil subsonic turbojets with a maximum weight of 75,000 pounds or less that do not comply with stage 3 noise levels. The Secretary shall post the notices received under this subsection on its website or in another place easily accessible to the public.

‘‘(d) LIMITATION.—The Secretary shall permit a person to operate Stage 1 and Stage 2 aircraft with a maximum weight of 75,000 pounds or less to or from an airport in the contiguous 48 States in order—

‘‘(1) to sell, lease, or use the aircraft outside the 48 contiguous States;

‘‘(2) to scrap the aircraft;

‘‘(3) to obtain modifications to the aircraft to meet stage 3 noise levels;

‘‘(4) to perform scheduled heavy maintenance or significant modifications on the aircraft at a maintenance facility located in the contiguous 48 states;

‘‘(5) to deliver the aircraft to an operator leasing the aircraft from the owner or return the aircraft to the lessor;

‘‘(6) to prepare or park or store the aircraft in anticipation of any of the activities described in paragraphs (1) through (5); or

‘‘(7) to divert the aircraft to an alternative airport in the 48 contiguous States on account of weather, mechanical, fuel air traffic control or other safety reasons while conducting a flight in order to perform any of the activities described in paragraphs (1) through (6).

‘‘(e) STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in the section may be construed as interfering with, nullifying, or otherwise affecting determinations made by the Federal Aviation Administration, or to be made by the Administration, with respect to applications under part 161 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, that were pending on the date of enactment of the Aircraft Noise Reduction Act of 2006.’’.

(b) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS.—

(1) Section 47531 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by striking ‘‘47529, or 47530’’ and inserting ‘‘47529, 47530, or 47534’’.

(2) Section 47532 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by striking ‘‘47528-47531’’ and inserting ‘‘47528 through 47531 or 47534’’.

(3) The chapter analysis for chapter 475 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 47533 the following:

‘‘47534. Prohibition on operating certain aircraft weighing 75,000 pounds or less not complying with stage 3 noise levels’’.

(c) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date that is 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act.