|Les 20 derniers discours publiés concernant l'air et l'espace!|
|Aviation Noise & Air Quality|
|28/02/2011 Tucson, Arizona, UC Davis|
Good morning. I’m here today to talk about looking to the future, but I’m also here today to talk about the challenges we face when it comes to maintaining forward momentum. For those of us with a little gray hair, it wasn’t that long ago that America didn’t think about the environment at all. That’s no longer the case – case in point, here we are – but as with any hot button issue, it’s all too easy to lose focus. Passing the law or making a requirement or changing the ingredients are not enough. Protecting the environment has to be a reflex. At the FAA, safety is our reflex. I think it’s the job of everyone in this room to make lifestyle changes that make caring for the environment a reflex. The FAA is moving in that direction, too.
When it comes to discussing “the future” of U.S. aviation, I must do so with some humility. A famous management consultant by the name of Peter Drucker once noted, “Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.” I don’t think Mr. Drucker realized that he was also commenting on the battle of the budget. I’ll get back to that in a moment.
U.S.aviation is heading into a period of unprecedented challenge. The airline industry continues to go through cycles of profits and losses and remains financially fragile. The temporary respite from congestion and flight delays after September 11th is over at some of the nation's busiest airports. We went from everything on the ground that morning to record-high load factors in fairly short order. With more and more people flying, aviation infrastructure capacity – airports and airspace – remain critical problems for the future of air transportation. And all of this needs to be viewed through the lens of oil, and those prices are hovering around $100 a barrel. Fuel has emerged as the single largest cost for operations and these costs are reshaping the aviation industry.
These are important challenges, ensuring safety and security, financial stability, developing adequate infrastructure, and addressing the environmental and energy constraints. And they are compounded by the tug-of-war over tax dollars in Washington. Just like everybody, the FAA faces significant fiscal pressures that will shape our ability to maintain today’s system as well as respond to tomorrow’s demands.
But what you should know is that budget the President has proposed is committed to delivering NextGen – our plan to modernize, revolutionize – the national airspace system. I’ve been in transportation throughout my entire career, and I can say with the firmest conviction that this Administration believes investing in NextGen’s capabilities and technologies. It’s an investment that must be made if aviation is going to continue to redefine how we live and what opportunity looks like for Americans in this century.
The word “NextGen” gets tossed around quite a bit, so I’ll start with a definition. At its core, NextGen is an integrated set of programs, systems, and policies that implement advanced technologies and capabilities. That’s the textbook definition. When you bump into me in the hallway, I’m just going to tell you that NextGen is going to change the way we fly. It changes how we operate the system, much in the same way the GPS in your car has changed how you drive.
You now know the name of the street you’re on, the cross street that’s approaching, the location of the nearest gas station or ATM, the direction you’re heading, the speed you’re driving at, the speed you’re supposed to be driving at, and maybe most importantly, the location of traffic cameras, in the unlikely event that you think that the red light was meant just for the guy behind you.
Without a doubt, NextGen changes the table just as dramatically. The way we operate the aviation system now is not going to stay that way. NextGen is satellite-based. It relies on a network to share information and digital communications so all users of the system are aware of other users’ locations. It will enhance aviation safety, reduce delays, reduce energy use, and mitigate impacts on the environment. The NextGen system responds quickly as the types of aircraft change and congestion occurs. Hazards are identified and their associated risk mitigated before they result in incidents or accidents. Environment and energy challenges are inherently considered in operational decisions. It will require partnership and collaboration within the FAA, across government, with outside stakeholders and around the world.
So, how’s it going? We are moving forward with nationwide deployment of the satellite based surveillance system called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast. For the rest of this conference, you’ll hear the shorthand nickname, ADS-B. Same thing. In the Gulf of Mexico, we’ve installed ADS-B radio stations on oil platforms. This allows aircraft to receive air traffic services direct to the platform, giving the users far greater flexibility than the safe, but restrictive grid system that was in place. We’ve opened up about a quarter of a million square miles of new, positively controlled airspace. In addition to the Gulf, ADS-B is up and running in Louisville, Philadelphia and Alaska, all with very positive results.
NextGen is also helping us to improve efficiency and to provide benefits through the deployment of precision-based navigation procedures that save fuel and emissions. If you think time is money, NextGen is for you. We are working in collaboration with Alaska Air Group on a program called Greener Skies Over Seattle to deliver reduced emissions and fuel burn through optimized descents and Required Navigation Performance approaches. That’s another couple of acronyms to remember, RNP: required navigation performance, and RNAV: area navigation. We expect that Greener Skies will demonstrate the same positive results that we’ve seen with similar initiatives within the National Airspace System.
To date, we’ve published more than 900 performance-based navigation arrival and departure routes and procedures. Again, making the business case, performance-based navigation pays for itself, having already saved millions of dollars in fuel at major U.S. airports. Southwest Airlines is a prime example. It is estimated that for every single minute of time saved on each flight, their annual savings quickly add up to 156,000 metric tons in emissions a year, which translates into a savings of $25 million. Seconds do count. Time ismoney indeed.
NextGen also changes things on the ground. Surface management is a prime benefactor. As you’ll hear quite a bit during this conference, airports need to manage not only aircraft but the many other types of vehicles that service the aircraft and airport. Imagine a parking lot with Lamborghinis and tricycles. We’ve deployed the latest airport surface detection radar – ASDE-X – at 32 airports, with another three scheduled to receive it by this May. Initiatives at JFK and Memphis demonstrate that the technologies and procedures put in place reduced taxi times by about 2-4 minutes. When you’re buying fuel by the pound, seconds count. But in addition to cost savings, ASDE-X provides another layer of safety by improving situational awareness for both operators and controllers.
As you can see, we’ve been able to take major strides in lessening the environmental effects of aviation over the past several decades. Even so, aircraft noise continues to be the environmental impact of most concern to communities. Aircraft emissions contribute to air quality related health effects, as do emissions from all combustion processes, and at times are causing heightened concerns locally and globally. The potential effects of aircraft emissions on the climate of our planet may be the most serious long term environmental consequence facing aviation. In fact, aviation environmental impacts could be the principal constraints on capacity and operations in the United States. Further, as I noted earlier, energy supply and its cost, not to mention associated climate change issues, could increasingly shape the future growth and operations of U.S. aviation.
These combined environmental and energy challenges must be successfully managed and mitigated for the U.S. to meet aviation transportation needs of the 21st century. Our NextGen strategy relies not on a single solution but a five- pillar comprehensive and integrated approach building on aviation’s traditional strengths of technological and operational innovation.
The first pillar is to improve scientific knowledge and modeling. Environmental analyses, impact determinations, and strategies to lessen the impact must be based on a solid scientific foundation. This is important with respect to aviation’s effects on climate, but also to gain a more nuanced and multi-faceted understanding of noise impacts. The development and use of advanced decision-support tools that look at the possible trade-offs of noise, air quality, and fuel burn, and the costs of these trade-offs, are critical for well-informed decision-making. Yesterday, you heard about the advances we are making in modeling. Our new models are quite real and viable. They provide users with new capabilities that sharpen environmental analyses and decisions.
With respect to the second pillar, Air Traffic Management Modernization, I shared earlier how NextGen is already getting it done and how many of the new procedures will contribute to mitigating environmental impacts and improving energy efficiency. NextGen will increase the efficiency of aircraft operations, both in the air and on the airport surface. When you improve efficiency, you save time and fuel. Reducing fuel consumption reduces CO2 emissions that affect climate and other emissions that contribute to poor air quality. We’ve seen already that fuel burn, emissions, noise, and flight times can be cut by RNAV/RNP routes and approaches.
In addition, we’ve set up a special effort we’re calling “NAV Lean” to streamline the operations approval and certification processes for all instrument flight procedures, more specifically performance-based RNAV and RNP procedures. We know it works; we know we need to get it to the table faster. The group consisted of six teams that crossed various areas of FAA to identify areas where there were redundancies, inefficiencies or unnecessary delays – in other words to make the process “lean.” The group worked for almost 6 months and made 21 recommendations for streamlining both the operations approval and instrument flight procedures process to ensure the maximum number of users gets navigation benefits as quickly as possible while maintaining the highest levels of safety. When they’re fully implemented, we estimate we’ll have a 40 percent reduction of the processing time required. For those of you keeping track, we expect to issue the plan by June 1. Not only will this mean users of the system will see the benefits of the navigation technology sooner, but the FAA will improve the efficiency of our processes.
The third pillar addresses new aircraft technologies. Historically, most of the success in reducing aviation’s impacts has come from new technologies. New engine and airframe technologies will need to play key roles in achieving aviation environment and energy goals. The U.S. will support advances in engine technology and airframe configurations to lay the foundation for the next generation of aircraft. Our technological strategy envisions a fleet of quieter, cleaner aircraft that operate more efficiently with less energy. We are focusing on maturing technologies for near term application through its Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions, and Noise effort called CLEEN. You’ll hear more about CLEEN later this week.
The fourth pillar looks at sustainable alternative fuels. The development and deployment here offers prospects for enabling enormous environmental improvements, energy security, and economic stability for aviation. We’re working with industry under the auspices of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative. The acronym there is CAAFI. Writers get paid by the word, and then there are those among us who apparently get paid by the acronym. Hey, it’s a living.
The near terms efforts in this area include adding new classes of fuels that adhere to recently adopted international standards. In addition, we will be conducting aircraft flight tests using new alternative fuels, ascertaining their emissions characteristics, lifecycle greenhouse gases, and sustainability. There remain a number of challenges to sustainable alternative fuel deployment, including financing for commercial production. That’s a much larger subject you’ll be hearing about in greater detail later this week.
Finally, the last pillar addresses policies, environmental standards, and market-based measures. In many ways, starting from a point we all can agree may be the biggest hurdle to overcome. Development and implementation of appropriate policies, programs, regulations, and mechanisms are critical to support advantageous technology and operational innovations and accelerate their integration into the commercial fleet, the airport environment and entire national aviation system. We’re committed to use Environmental Management Systems to integrate environmental protection objectives into NextGen and facilitate NEPA endeavors. Internationally, the U.S. is working at ICAO to assess the feasibility, benefits, and costs of a CO2 standard for aircraft as well as the need for a new noise standard. Through the Airport Improvement Program, we will continue to support the growth of our Voluntary Airport Low Emissions program in reducing airport emissions as well as expand our efforts to support sustainable airport development.
The next decade promises to be a critical time in the history of air transportation, not just in the U.S. but around the world. As I have tried to share in small measure, parts of NextGen are already on the ground at airports, in cockpits, and are providing aviation improvements for passengers and aviation professionals today. From flight decks to control towers, our system is already changing. A pivotal part of NextGen revolves around our efforts to accelerate technology in the aircraft and the fuels they burn to produce an aviation system that is quieter and cleaner and can achieve the capacity growth we want in a sustainable manner.
I don’t want to minimize the challenges we face, and I believe the complexity and the sheer breadth of what I’ve already told you makes that point. We have an industry that’s a lot like a rollercoaster in its financial performance, an airport and air traffic infrastructure that requires large public and private sector investments and partnerships to bring complex technologies online, and expectations that both safety and environmental performance must improve significantly. And all the while we face economic and budget challenges ahead.
Yet it would be a mistake to underestimate the ability of the aviation sector to innovate. Even those close to aviation have difficulty appreciating the invention and boundaries that can be overcome. About a hundred years ago, Orville Wright predicted: “No flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris, no known motor can run at the requisite speed for four days without stopping.”
So sometimes, Wright is wrong. So let us not make the same mistake that Orville Wright made in underestimating the ability of the industry he helped create. We all must work together to find the solutions we’ll need for this century. For its part, the FAA is committed to doing its best to ensure America has the safest, most efficient, and sustainable aviation system in the world.
We are working diligently with Congress, with the industry, with academia, all with the goal of changing the world by how we treat the environment. NextGen is the vehicle that will get us there, but it’s good old-fashioned collaboration that will make it stick. All of this serves the passenger, and it serves the passenger’s planet. That’s not just a good thing, it’s the right thing. Thank you.
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