A US push for new global standards to kickstart its fledgling supersonic jet industry is facing resistance from European nations that want tough rules on noise, Reuters reports, citing documents and people familiar with the matter.
Fifteen years after Concorde’s last flight, US regulators are weighing rule changes to allow testing of early-stage supersonic jets, amid plans for American-made business and small passenger jets due in service by the mid-2020s.
But the new industry could face delays at the United Nations aviation agency as US and European countries are squaring off over new noise rules needed for the jets to fly, sources told Reuters.
The clash poses a threat to US ambitions for an American-led revival of supersonic jets by start-ups Aerion Supersonic, Boom Supersonic and Spike Aerospace, the report noted.
“The politics are that Europe is way more worried about noise (around airports),” Reuters cited an industry source as saying. “Europe has a problem but they have no reason to solve (it) because they have no industry pushing for this.”
Boeing and Airbus have both mapped out futuristic visions for ultra-fast air travel.
But since the demise of Boeing’s planned near-supersonic Sonic Cruiser in 2002, the two big planemakers have focused on slower, fuel-efficient planes that allow airlines to lower ticket prices.
Now, US startups are working to develop quieter and more fuel-efficient supersonic planes than Concorde, aimed at business travelers. They claim these can be economically viable with the right engine.
They also pledge to dampen the famous sonic boom which depressed Concorde’s sales and restricted its operations until it was grounded for economic reasons in 2003.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN body which sets many global standards, has started looking at supersonic jets by seeking technical information from planemakers.
European countries think current noise limits should be used as “guidelines” for developing landing and take-off rules, according to a document presented to a recent ICAO committee meeting and seen by Reuters.
The US, echoing industry’s demand, is said to have called for new standards that reflect “fundamental differences” between subsonic and supersonic jets.
Lengthy delays by ICAO would likely force planemakers to hold off, or risk investing millions in a design that “no one will certify,” a US industry source told Reuters.
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