Collaboration between the federal government and the aviation industry has led to reductions in aviation emissions, but growing air traffic has partially offset these reductions. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), together with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and others, is working to increase the efficiency, safety, and capacity of the national airspace system and at the same time reduce aviation emissions, in part, by transforming the current air traffic control system to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). This effort involves new technologies and air traffic procedures that can reduce aviation emissions and incorporates research and development (R&D) on emissions-reduction technologies. Reducing aviation emissions is important both to minimize their adverse health and environmental effects and to alleviate public concerns about them that could constrain the expansion of airport infrastructure and aviation operations needed to meet demand. This testimony addresses (1) the scope and nature of aviation emissions, (2) the status of selected key federal efforts to reduce aviation emissions, and (3) next steps and challenges in reducing aviation emissions. The testimony updates prior GAO work with FAA data, literature reviews, and interviews with agency officials, industry and environmental stakeholders, and selected experts.
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