ICAO's technical committee agrees increase in stringency level on particulates and CORSIA sustainable aviation fuel methodologies

ICAO's technical committee agrees increase in stringency level on particulates and CORSIA sustainable aviation fuel methodologies  | CAEP

Tue 19 Feb 2019 – ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) has agreed to increase the stringency level of a standard limiting emissions of non-volatile Particulate Matter (nvPM) from aircraft engines. The technical committee’s 11th (CAEP/11) triennial meeting just concluded also delivered new technology goals for the sector, covering aircraft noise, NOx emissions and fuel efficiency. Agreement was also reached on the means to calculate and claim the benefits accrued from the use of sustainable aviation fuels under the CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme and also recommendations on the body being formed to evaluate the eligibility of emissions units. Over the next three years, CAEP will assess how to certify hybrid and electric aircraft and will undertake an exploratory study on supersonic aircraft.


In advance of the new stringency rule, a standard on nvPM was passed by CAEP at its 10th meeting in 2016 and adopted by the ICAO Council in 2017. It applies to engines with a rated thrust greater than 26.7kN manufactured from 1 January 2020.


Engines burning hydrocarbon-based fuels emit gaseous and particulate matter emissions as by-products of combustion, and contribute to poor air quality in and around airports. At the engine exhaust, particulates mainly consist of ultrafine soot or black carbon emissions, called non-volatile PM. Compared to diesel engines, gas turbine engine nvPMs are typically smaller in size. ICAO says the standard is expected to drive technologies to address nvPM and in the long-run minimise their potential environmental and health impacts.


With this standard, ICAO reports it has now completed all main environmental standards for the certification of aircraft and engines, namely for noise, local air quality (NOx, HC, CO, nvPM) and climate (CO2), making aviation the only sector with environmental mandatory certification requirements at the global level for the operation of its equipment. Once applicable, ICAO says all new aircraft will need to be certified to the standards before operating.


The CAEP meeting in Montreal – attended by around 250 international experts – also agreed new technology goals for new aircraft entering production, including performance improvements in aircraft noise up to 15.5 dB below Chapter 14 limits for single-aisle aircraft by 2027 and NOx emissions by 54% relative to the latest ICAO NOx SARPs, along with fuel efficiency gains of up to 1.3% per annum.


Updated ICAO environmental trends for noise, local air quality (NOx and nvPM) and global climate (CO2) were agreed by CAEP and will form the basis for the consideration of ICAO environmental policies at the next 40th Assembly this coming September.


The agreement on the means to calculate and claim benefits accrued from the use of sustainable aviation fuel under CORSIA is significant in reducing airlines’ offsetting requirements, says ICAO. It includes the default values and methodologies for calculating actual values needed to calculate the life-cycle CO2 emissions reduction benefits of different feedstocks. CAEP has also agreed on the requirements for Sustainability Certification Schemes (SCS) and a process to evaluate and recommend a list of eligible SCS, which will certify fuels against the CORSIA sustainability criteria.


“This package of agreements provides the clarity needed for the energy sector to embark on the production of sustainable fuels for aviation, and is an important step towards CORSIA implementation,” said an ICAO statement.


CAEP has also recommended the rules and procedures for the Technical Advisory Body (TAB), which is in the process of being set up by the ICAO Council to evaluate the eligibility of emissions units for use in CORSIA. The Committee also agreed the technical updates of the Environmental Technical Manual on CORSIA, which clarifies the recommended actions by States and airlines for the monitoring, reporting and verification of CO2 emissions.


Other agreed outcomes from the two-week meeting include:

  • Publications developed as part of ICAO’s ‘eco-airport toolkit collection’, which cover renewable energy, waste management, environmental management and airport building eco-design.
  • A synthesis report was approved for publication that provides important information on climate risk impacts and resilience options for the sector.
  • Reports on the state of aircraft end-of-life and recycling, and performance-based navigation and community engagement were also agreed for publication.
  • Agreement on the results of an assessment on the positive effects of operational improvements, which showed fuel savings of between 167-307 kg per flight can be achieved by 2025.
  • The publication of a white paper called ‘State of the Science 2019: Aviation Noise Impacts Workshop’.


All technical recommendations that have been agreed by CAEP will now be considered by the governing ICAO Council.


“In the 35 years since CAEP was established, the scope of work and the technical areas which it covers have widened. Yet, despite the monumental challenges before it, CAEP remains a tremendous example of international cooperation,” commented Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu.




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