Aviation System Air Quality Performance Analysis

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As outlined in the Destination 2025 vision — a vision of transformation of the Nation’s aviation system in which air traffic will move safely, swiftly, efficiently, and seamlessly around the globe — the FAA aims to reduce aviation emissions' significant health impacts, with an aspirational goal of a 50 percent reduction by 2018 relative to a 2005 baseline. With aviation forecast to grow 5 percent annually over the next 15 years, tools to rapidly estimate the aircraft emissions’ air quality and public health impacts will help in assessing the benefits of potential aviation environmental policies, such as use of alternative fuels or NOx stringency measures. In the context of the ICAO Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), tools to rapidly assess global aviation emissions-attributable health impacts are also required.

This study, developed jointly by Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will develop and implement tools to allow for assessment of year-on-year changes in significant health outcomes, both within the US and globally. These tools will provide information for decision makers to assess potential aviation policy scenarios. Collectively, these rapid assessment tools will:

  • enable assessment of aviation-attributable PM2.5 and ozone exposure, premature mortality risk, and other adverse health outcomes
  • account for the impact of non-LTO and LTO emissions, including separation of effects
  • allow for the assessment of a wide range of aircraft emissions scenarios, including differential growth rates and emissions indices
  • account for changes in non-aviation emissions and allow for assessing sensitivity to meteorology
  • be computationally efficient such that tools can be used in time-sensitive rapid turnaround contexts and for uncertainty quantification

Anticipated outcomes

  • Modeling tools to estimate the air quality and public health impacts of aviation emissions.
  • Rapid assessment tools for assessing potential policy scenarios for both Destination 2025 and ICAO CAEP.

Participating universities

Boston University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Lead investigators

Sarav Arunachalam, research associate professor, Institute for the Environment, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sarav@email.unc.edu
Steven Barrett, assistant professor, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, sbarrett@mit.edu
Jonathan I. Levy, professor, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, jonlevy@bu.edu

FAA program managers

Nicole Didyk, Nicole.Didyk@faa.gov
S. Daniel Jacob, Daniel.Jacob@faa.gov