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Public Bill Committee Debates

Draft Air Navigation (Environmental Standards for Non-EASA Aircraft) Order 2008

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: Dr. William McCrea
Brazier, Mr. Julian (Canterbury) (Con)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral, South) (Lab)
Fitzpatrick, Jim (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport)
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian (Leeds, North-East) (Lab)
Heald, Mr. Oliver (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con)
Howarth, Mr. George (Knowsley, North and Sefton, East) (Lab)
Hunter, Mark (Cheadle) (LD)
James, Mrs. Siân C. (Swansea, East) (Lab)
Leech, Mr. John (Manchester, Withington) (LD)
Miller, Andrew (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab)
Owen, Albert (Ynys Môn) (Lab)
Seabeck, Alison (Plymouth, Devonport) (Lab)
Tami, Mark (Alyn and Deeside) (Lab)
Whittingdale, Mr. John (Maldon and East Chelmsford) (Con)
Wright, Jeremy (Rugby and Kenilworth) (Con)
Yeo, Mr. Tim (South Suffolk) (Con)
Mark Oxborough, Committee Clerk
† attended the Committee

Sixth Delegated Legislation Committee

Wednesday 5 November 2008

[Dr. William McCrea in the Chair]

Draft Air Navigation (Environmental Standards for Non-EASA Aircraft) Order 2008

2.30 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick): I beg to move,
That the Committee has considered the draft Air Navigation (Environmental Standards for Non-EASA Aircraft) Order 2008.
It is a pleasure to see you presiding this afternoon, Dr. McCrea, and I am pleased to be here to ask the Committee’s approval of the order. It has already been discussed in the other place and was welcomed by Members from all parties. Noise and emissions certification may be an area of interest primarily for the more technical among us, but the order is important to other people. We have been working with the International Civil Aviation Organisation to tighten the noise levels with which new aircraft must comply. The latest requirement—the chapter 4 noise standard—became legal on 1 January 2006, and will mean that new aircraft must meet even stricter noise levels than before.
Work is also under way to tighten emission levels. Aircraft engines must meet ICAO emissions requirements on smoke, unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen. The NOx standard was recently tightened by 15 per cent., effective from the 1 January 2008, for new engine designs. The UK continues to press for further tightening to be agreed by ICAO in 2010. Although principally targeted at reducing NOx emissions in the vicinity of airports, such measures will also have beneficial effects on climate change.
May I now turn to the two main categories of aircraft? As passengers, we all used to go on holiday on the first type, whether they were small turboprops from the regions or large jets. The second type is aircraft that weigh fewer than 500 kg. Until March 2007, the noise and emissions certification for all aircraft was undertaken by the Civil Aviation Authority. After that date, the European Aviation Safety Agency was established and took on responsibility for the first type of aircraft—jets and large aircraft—which are called EASA aircraft. The second category is called, for simplicity, non-EASA aircraft, and includes microlight aeroplanes, and aircraft in the service of Customs and the police. Such aircraft continue to be regulated by the CAA.
The order sets out the noise and emissions standards with which non-EASA aircraft must comply. Importantly, there are no new requirements, impacts or costs. At present, the noise and emissions certifications for all aircraft air is provided in the Air Navigation (Environmental Standards) Order 2002, which is known as ESO 2002, and relates both to EASA and non-EASA aircraft. The provisions relating to EASA aircraft are no longer enforceable by the CAA, so ESO 2002 needs to be revoked and replaced with this order, which applies only to non-EASA aircraft. Its provisions simply replace those in ESO 2002 for non-EASA aircraft.
The CAA, which is the UK’s specialist aviation regulator, has played a leading role in bringing us to this point. It conducted the consultation exercise that preceded the preparation of the order and drafted the initial order, for which we are grateful. All interested parties in the aviation industry were consulted on the draft order by the CAA. Only three replies were received, none of which objected to the order.
Ben Chapman (Wirral, South) (Lab): May I tell the Minister that alongside the few people who objected, the vast majority of people who responded to the consultation, including people in my constituency, very much welcome any measure that limits emissions and noise in both EASA and non-EASA aircraft?
Jim Fitzpatrick: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Indeed, the whole thrust of government, both in national and international policy, is to reduce emissions and noise. Clearly, the regulations that we have been negotiating within ICAO, which I mentioned earlier, very much move the whole industry in that direction, which is also where that organisation wants to go.
As I was saying, it is important to stress that there are no new requirements for the aircraft that were subject to ESO 2002, and are now subject to the 2008 order. Since the order only restates the provisions previously found in ESO 2002, there are no new impacts or costs. It is really a tidying-up exercise, which formally removes from the CAA’s jurisdiction the certification of aircraft for which it no longer has responsibility. Although no new obligations are being introduced, it is necessary to legislate, both to ensure that the regulator’s power to act is clear, and because we do not want to duplicate provisions already provided for by European legislation or retain domestic legislation that is inconsistent with European measures. I commend the order to the Committee.
2.35 pm
Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dr. McCrea, albeit for what I suspect will be a short time. The Minister has confirmed the answer to my first question, which is that the order does absolutely nothing. I want to ask him three brief questions followed by several slightly more detailed questions about one particular issue. First, will he confirm that military aircraft—effectively, RAF aircraft and those of the other two services—will remain fully under the jurisdiction of member states or, at least, that their status has not changed and that EASA has no locus on them? Secondly, what organisations from the general aviation industry were consulted about the order and the original setting of EASA’s standards? The industry often feels squeezed out by the remark, “civil aviation was consulted”. Thirdly, the explanatory document states that the Popular Flying Association
“commented on certain substantive aspects of the noise certification regime for microlights”.
It would be helpful to know what those issues were.
How many responses were received during the consultation? Will the Minister confirm that it was more than 5,000 and that almost all of them were hostile? Secondly, does the hon. Gentleman plan to talk to the British Gliding Association or glider clubs about the matter, and, finally, does he know of a single instance in which a glider was involved in an accident with a commercial or a general aviation aircraft, or in a near miss? I should be grateful if he could respond to me in writing with the responses to those questions, if he is not prepared for them now.
2.39 pm
Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab): I was tempted to set my hon. Friend a mathematics test on his understanding of calculus. Members of the Committee will know what I mean if they turn to page 14 of the order. However, I was being a tad unfair, despite the brains and skills of those who are not actually to your right, Dr. McCrea.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, South, from time to time I have to deal with complaints from constituents because of my constituency’s proximity to both Liverpool and Manchester airports. It would be helpful to translate documents such the order into a form that a lay person could understand. This very technical document may make eminent sense to specialist sound engineers—and, remarkably, the mathematics even makes sense to me despite the fact that it is a long time since I used any calculus—but it would be hugely helpful if it could be translated into more accessible language for the public.
2.40 pm
Jim Fitzpatrick: I should like to thank the hon. Member for Canterbury. We had an informal discussion about the order and he kindly gave me notice of most of the questions that he wanted to raise, so I hope that I am in a position to give him full answers. With regard to his question on transponders and gliders, however, I can give him only some information.
In respect of his question on military or state aircraft and whether they are under the jurisdiction of member states or under the control of EASA, I can confirm that non-EASA aircraft covered by the order include state aircraft. I can therefore confirm that they will still be under the control of member states, not EASA. State aircraft, such as police helicopters, are often based on EASA certification or certified types, but the modifications that are required nullify EASA approval, and the CAA assesses aircraft relative to its approval. If it is satisfied that the modifications will not adversely affect noise performance, the CAA will issue a certificate.
The hon. Gentleman asked which organisations from the general aviation industry were consulted. I can tell him that 18 organisations were consulted: the National Association of Agricultural Contractors, the Popular Flying Association—now the Light Aircraft Association—the Society of British Aerospace Companies, the Royal Aero Club, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Royal Aeronautical Society, the Flying Farmers Association, the General Aviation Safety Council, the British Microlight Aircraft Association, the British Helicopter Advisory Board, the British Business and General Aviation Association, the British Parachute Association, the Association of Licensed Aircraft Engineers, the British Balloon and Airship Club, the Helicopter Club of Great Britain, the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators, the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, and the British Gliding Association.
The hon. Gentleman asked about the Popular Flying Association. I am tempted to call it the Poplar Flying Club because that is the name of my constituency, but clearly that will not wash. However, we have City airport in Poplar and Canning Town, so we are an aviation centre. The Popular Flying Association commented on certain substantive aspects of the noise certification regime for microlights. The association, which is now known as the Light Aircraft Association, said that it considered it unnecessary and administratively burdensome to issue noise certificates to individual microlight aircraft, and it said that a generic noise certificate should be issued for particular aircraft type, engine type, exhaust type, and propeller type combination.
In its response, the CAA said noise certificates for microlights were handled in a similar manner to other aircraft, but that built standard options were much more varied. Very few microlights are exactly the same. It considered that there would be no advantage in moving away from individual noise certificates for non-type approved microlights, so the order basically maintains the status quo. The Popular Flying Club wanted to see a change in the regime, but I think that it was restating a general point of principle, because it did not raise a formal objection to the order.
The hon. Gentleman also raised the issue of gliders. Gliders below 80 kg are not covered by EASA, so there is no change in the order. The CAA will retain responsibility for them. The mode S transponder consultation has concluded, and the responses are being assessed at the moment. I do not have a date for the final results, because we received a considerable number of responses. I shall write to the hon. Gentleman, if he will allow me, and to the Committee, to advise them exactly how many responses were received and what the outcome is.
Mr. Brazier: The Minister is being characteristically helpful. The air cadets are dear to his heart, and gliders provide a pivotal role in supporting them. The gliding industry—I have just come from a meeting on this—is extremely worried. If the proposal goes ahead as planned, it will not only create a lot of cost but, because such things are not readily available on the market, in some cases next summer’s flying could be lost. I urge the Minister to look hard at the matter.
Ben Chapman: As one who learned his gliding with the Air Training Corps, albeit some years ago, I have an interest in the subject. I, too, would be interested in the Minister’s response.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I am happy to ensure that anything I copy to the hon. Member for Canterbury is received by all members of the Committee. I know that there is broad support for the air cadets and all the cadet corps across the House.
In conclusion, the order restates the provisions previously found in ESO 2002. There are no new impacts or costs. There are no new requirements for the aircraft that were subject to ESO 2002, and which are now subject to the 2008 order. However, as we discussed, it is important to legislate to ensure that the regulator’s powers to act are clear, that we do not duplicate provisions already in European legislation and that we do not retain any domestic legislation inconsistent with European measures. I therefore commend the order to the Committee.
Question put and agreed to.
Committee rose at twelve minutes to Three o’clock.

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Prepared 6 November 2008