Airbus, Boeing Sign Accord to Cut Air Traffic Impact on Environment

GENEVA ~ Rival aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing put aside their differences and signed an agreement this week to work together to cut the impact of air traffic on the environment.

The rare cooperation between the European and American giants was announced on the sidelines of the third aviation and environment summit in Geneva, where leading industry groups made a commitment to work against pollution.

The agreement between the two manufacturers will see them working together to push for global inter-operability in air traffic management to optimize efficiencies.

It will, in particular, see them working with the United States and European governments to help them take the most direct path to a modernized air traffic management system.

Both the US and Europe are currently looking at developing new generation air traffic management systems that would bring them up to speed with the more advanced technologies onboard planes.

“We need to make the air traffic management system inter-operable in both the US and Europe,” said Eric Stefanello, senior vice president of air traffic management at Airbus.

Such a move could result in a reduction of 10-12 percent in carbon emissions from the aviation sector in Europe alone.

“Airbus and Boeing are committed to action. The fact that we are sitting here today despite the highly competitive nature of our business demonstrates and underscores the joint commitment to addressing and helping solve the environmental challenges facing our industry,” said Scott Carson, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The parties, however, stressed that the agreement will not divert them from competing with each other on the marketplace.

“Tom and I are aggressive competitors … this is not under threat from what you see here,” said Carson.

Tom Enders, who is chief executive and president of Airbus, said the issue of air traffic management lends itself to collaboration and both parties have “common positions.”

He also said after the signing that both parties had identified other possible areas of cooperation on environmental issues.

Enders said Europe and the United States could be an example for the rest of the world as they move towards more modern air management systems.

“We set a good example and hopefully it will be exportable on how to organize air traffic management. Hopefully things in Europe won’t get too complex,” said Enders.

Both Airbus and Boeing also joined other industry leaders, including the head of international airline body IATA at the summit, to sign a declaration to adopt several strategies against pollution.

The declaration signed by 13 organizations acknowledged that the industry has a responsibility for the environment.

The declaration commits the industry to the development and application of new technologies, to fuel efficiency, improvement of air routes, traffic management and airport infrastructure.

The signatories also committed themselves to a reduction of gas emissions.

In addition, the declaration urges governments to support and co-finance research and development, and to develop a framework for global management of emissions under the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Earlier this month, signatories to the 1997 UN Kyoto Protocol promised to explore ways of curbing the harmful gases that planes emit into the atmosphere.

The global transport industry accounts for about three percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but air and sea travel were excluded from the Kyoto pact.

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