Aviation Noise:

A National Policy is Needed

T-RCED-90-112: Published: Sep 27, 1990. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1990.

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GAO discussed the economic impact that noise restrictions have had and are likely to have on the aviation industry. GAO noted that: (1) in the absence of a national noise policy, airports were likely to continue implementing noise abatement measures to respond to residential concerns; (2) the lack of coordination among local airports could place an increasingly heavy burden of higher costs and inefficient aircraft use on the nation's air transportation system; (3) airport officials expected noise-related restrictions to increase between 1995 and 2000; (4) the aircraft and airline industries believed that they had the capacity to phase out older, noiser stage-2 aircraft by the year 2000, but would need 10 years advance notice to achieve that goal; (5) the costs of phasing out stage-2 aircraft would fall between $2 billion and $5 billion, depending on whether airlines replaced or retrofitted their existing stage-2 fleets; (6) two organizations reported similar estimates of $2.7 billion and $3.1 billion for the stage-2 ban, while two other organizations reported much higher costs; (7) alternatives to aircraft replacement would significantly reduce the cost of a stage-2 ban; (8) airline officials believed that the impact of a stage-2 ban on individual airlines depended on the size of each carrier's fleet and on its financial health; and (9) the cost of phasing out stage-2 aircraft was likely to be borne partly by the airline industry, in the form of lower profits, and partly by airline passengers.

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