For many years, North American airports have undertaken important work in adopting environmental initiatives to be good neighbors in their local communities. Airports are committed to being responsible partners with their communities by operating their facilities in safe, secure and environmentally responsible ways.
As they advance this important work, airports continue to innovate and implement better and more sustainable strategies to protect and preserve the environment. Minimizing our industry’s environmental footprint not only protects valuable natural resources, but it also makes great business sense.
North American airports are also demonstrating global leadership and becoming better partners in the aviation system by managing and reducing their carbon footprint. As North American airport participation in the Airport Carbon Accreditation program grows, ACI-NA applauds the significant steps airports are taking to be leaders in environmental stewardship.
Aircraft noise is a particularly complicated topic that involves and impacts numerous stakeholders, including aircraft manufacturers, the airlines, the regulators like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), airports, and their surrounding communities. Airports are continually striving to be good partners in their communities by promoting environmentally responsible practices, including noise management, in our interactions with airlines, other aircraft operators, and the Federal Aviation Administration – the parties that actually generate aviation noise at airports or control the paths that aircraft fly. These efforts have had a tremendous influence on noise impacts. Airports are also mindful of the competing interests of noise-impacted communities and the broader region that greatly benefits from economic activity generated by air service.
The airport industry has been addressing the challenges with aircraft noise since introduction of the commercial jet in the 1960s. Current noise policy in the United States was developed decades ago, but so much has changed in the industry since then. The continuous work to leverage mitigation tools – like sound insulation programs, land acquisition, phase-out of older, noisier aircraft, FAA and ICAO regulations, and advancements in technology that resulted in quieter planes – has paid vast dividends in noise reduction.
Recent changes relating to an increase in aviation traffic and revised air traffic patterns, primarily due to the modernization of the U.S. airspace through the implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), have brought aircraft noise back to the forefront of the public’s attention.
ACI-NA will continue to work with our airport members, airlines, and regulators to develop effective solutions to mitigate aircraft noise impacts.
For many years airports have been working to address their local environmental impact. Since 2004, airports have taken advantage of the FAA Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) Program to implement clean technology projects that improve air quality, including purchasing low emission vehicles and refueling and recharging stations. Today U.S. airports are working collectively with their global colleagues through the airport industry’s Airport Carbon Accreditation program which sets standards and certifies airport accomplishments in managing, reducing and ultimately neutralizing their carbon footprint.
Airport Carbon Accreditation is a rigorous, third party administered program that has received recognition from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as an example of positive industry engagement for addressing climate change. As part of Airport Carbon Accreditation, airports commit to reducing their emissions by making investments in heating and lighting efficiency technologies, electric, hybrid or gas-powered vehicles, public transport incentive schemes, and stakeholder engagement to encourage further emissions reductions.
ACI-NA joined Airport Carbon Accreditation in 2014 and since then, 47 North American airports have joined nearly 300 global airports in attaining certification.
Learn more about Airport Carbon Accreditation.
What is PFAS?
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance (PFAS) are chemicals that have been used since the 1940s in a wide variety of products, including non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabric, water-repellent clothing, and firefighting foam. Due to its widespread use in cooking and household products, clothing, and other consumer goods, and its presence in the environment, most people have come into contact with PFAS in some form. While PFAS has proven to be very useful in many applications, including firefighting at airports, there is growing concern over the potential health effects from PFAS, in particular a small subset of PFAS historically used across industries.
What is the impact for airports?
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires Part 139 certified -airports to use firefighting foam containing PFAS. FAA cites the ability of PFAS-containing foams to quickly extinguish any fires, including those involving aviation fuel. ACI-NA successfully lobbied Congress to direct the FAA to expedite testing of alternative fire-fighting foams and to certify a PFAS-free firefighting foam by the end of 2021. The FAA has not yet approved PFAS-free foam.
What are airports doing to address environmental concerns?
Airports must continue to comply with the FAA mandate to use PFAS-based firefighting foam until the agency changes its directive. However, ACI-NA has worked with FAA on approaches to testing and training that greatly reduce the use of firefighting foam in non-emergency situations.
We are also carefully monitoring ongoing research in the areas of testing and PFAS sources and attribution. The airport community is providing input to state and federal regulatory efforts with regard to responsible management of PFAS. In particular, ACI-NA has emphasized the need for the federal government to be responsible for appropriate remediation and clean-up when the use of PFAS was mandated by the government.