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Brussels, 18th June 2007

Commission and FAA launch transatlantic action plan to cut emissions

Jacques Barrot, European Commission Vice-President responsible for transport, and Marion Blakey, Administrator of the United States Federal Aviation Administration, today launched - in the presence of aircraft industry representatives - a transatlantic emission-reduction initiative called AIRE.

"The future of the aviation industry depends on its ability to combat climate change through innovation and greater efficiency, and this initiative will enable us to speed up the application of technologies and procedures having a direct impact on greenhouse gas emissions," Jacques Barrot said.

"Following the major success of our open skies agreement, this is further proof that the European Union and the United States benefit from working together in the aviation sector. We both want a sky open to aircraft but not to emissions," he added.

"The Commission is ensuring constant environmental awareness in the aviation sector. Our AIRE initiative is only one part of our three measures to make aviation greener. It supplements our proposal to include aviation in the emission rights trading system and the Clean Sky initiative launched by the Commission last week to support the development of the next generation of clean aircraft," the Commission Vice-President concluded.

The joint initiative AIRE (Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions) fits in with the cooperation protocol signed by the Commission and the FAA to coordinate two major programmes on air traffic control infrastructure modernisation, SESAR[1] in Europe and NEXTGEN[2] in the United States.

AIRE will make it possible to speed up the application of new technologies and operational procedures which will have a direct impact in the short and medium term on greenhouse gas emissions. The measures include "smooth" or "reduced engine" approaches (which will enable noise and exhaust gas emissions to be reduced during landing), experiments with which carried out at Stockholm, Louisville and Atlanta have shown substantial savings in fuel and CO2 and NOx emissions.

AIRE will be based on "gate to gate" test campaigns and experiments, which will make it possible to assess the new measures' environmental benefits and their operational and technical feasibility. Accordingly, the Commission and the FAA have ensured that this initiative is being undertaken with the close involvement of partners from the industry, such as the aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing, the operators Air France-KLM, SAS, Delta and FEDEX, and providers of aviation navigation services such as IAA (Ireland), LFV (Sweden) and NAV (Portugal). In addition to being an agreement between two leading public institutions, AIRE is therefore a genuine partnership which brings together aviation players with the common aim of environmental conservation.

The initial partnership will be expanded as best practices and new technologies spread in Europe and the United States.

For the Commission, the air transport sustainable development strategy is based on a consistent three-pillared approach:

1. air traffic management, by means of SESAR or more generally the Single European Sky and initiatives such as AIRE;

2. technological development, through programmes such as Clean Sky or studies on the use of biofuels;

3. economic mechanisms for trading emission rights.

AIRE is the first large-scale environmental initiative bringing together aviation players from both sides of the Atlantic.

For further information see:

[1] Single European Sky ATM Research.

[2] Next Generation air transport system.

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