Proposed Aviation Noise Rollback Would Allow Comeback of SSTs

by | Apr 25, 2020

The Federal Aviation Administration has pushed forward with weakening noise limits for commercial airplane takeoff and landing, a rollback that would allow supersonic aircraft (SSTs) to make a comeback. Developed in the early 1970s and last flown in the U.S. in 2003, SSTs are super-polluting passenger planes that burn 5 to 7 times more fuel than current commercial jets. In a 2019 study, the International Council on Clean Transportation found that supersonic air travel would exceed the subsonic limits for nitrogen oxides by 40%. The FAA’s fact sheet on supersonic planes notes that they were “retired nearly two decades ago because of the high cost of meeting the environmental restrictions on sonic booms, inefficient fuel consumption, and other factors.” Status: Proposed rule released April 13, 2020. Public comment period closes July 31, 2020.

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Amy Westervelt is the editor-in-chief of Drilled News, creator and host of the Drilled podcast, and founder of the Critical Frequency podcast network, named AdWeek's Podcast Network of the Year in 2019. An award-winning print and audio journalist, Amy has contributed to The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, as well as KQED, The California Report, Capital Public Radio, and many other outlets. She is the 2015 winner of the Rachel Carson award for "women greening journalism," and a 2016 winner of an Edward R. Murrow award for her series on the impacts of the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. In 2019, the Drilled podcast won the Online News Association's "Excellence in Audio Storytelling" award.

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Emily J. Gertz is senior editor of Drilled News. A longtime environmental reporter and editor, her work has appeared in HuffPost, Reveal, Arctic Today, The Guardian, Popular Science, Scientific American, Sierra, and more.