GE Wants Overhaul of Environmental Review for NextGen Air Transportation

Lorraine Bolsinger, President and CEO of GE Aviation Systems (NYSE: GE) testified before the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee last week on the negative impact of the current environmental review processes for new aviation procedures.

The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is a new National Airspace System due for implementation across the United States in stages between 2012 and 2025.

The wide-ranging transformation of the US air transportation system aims to reduce gridlock, but it also could have significant environmental benefits in reducing fuel consumption. However, GE’s Bolsinger said, in its current form, the environmental review process will delay implementation tremendously.

She urged the subcommittee to take leadership in expediting the environmental review process for NextGen implementation.

“It’s unfortunate that 40 years after the passage of NEPA (National
Environmental Policy Act), the FAA’s well-intentioned efforts to apply
the law have, instead, become a major obstacle to achieving NextGen
environmental benefits,” said Bolsinger.

FAA, like any government agency, must comply with NEPA requirements.
Currently, environmentally beneficial navigation procedures are
subjected to the same process as
procedures that adversely affect the environment

Bolinger said the review process is time-consuming and very costly. When multiplied by roughly 1,200 or so new
procedures that will be required to modernize airspace at the nation’s largest
100 airports, the magnitude of the problem becomes clear,
according to Bolsinger.

She suggested the application of a new, expedited environmental approval process when new navigation procedures meet the following three-part test:

  1. It reduces an aircraft’s CO2 emissions
  2. It reduces fuel burn
  3. It results in a reduction or no net increase in the noise-affected area on the ground.

Congress has the opportunity to take action now, to require FAA to develop this expedited environmental approval process as it conferences the FAA Reauthorization bill.

GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE (NYSE: GE), builds jet engines, components and integrated systems for commercial and military aircraft.

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