Valuation and Trade-offs of Policy Options

Project Category: 
Interdependencies and policy assessment
Project Number: 

The environmental impact of air transportation is driven by complex interactions among technology, operations, policy constraints, and market conditions. Today, environmental policy design, and research and development activities, are largely compartmentalized — focusing for example on only noise, only air quality, or only climate change. Further, the full costs and benefits are often not considered when evaluating policies and prioritizing research investments. This compartmentalized arrangement is incompatible with the engineering and organizational realities of the air transportation system where decisions in one domain may produce unintended negative consequences in another. Restructuring the decision-making process to integrate the consideration of all environmental impacts simultaneously, and to provide a full assessment of costs and benefits, can increase economic efficiency, reduce the potential for unintended consequences, establish new understanding of the interdependencies among effects, and improve stakeholders’ understanding of future issues. Fostering these changes is the principal aim of Project 3. The overall objective of Project 3 is to enable better communication and decision-making in addressing the interdependent environmental effects of aviation by being able to fully assess the benefits and costs of policies, technologies, operational procedures, and market conditions.

Ongoing and completed activities

Report to Congress: Aviation and the Environment
In December 2003, as part of HR 2115 Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act, Congress required the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with NASA, to study reducing aircraft noise and emissions, and increase fuel efficiency. The study was conducted by PARTNER, the Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emission Reduction.

Presented to Congress in March 2006, the report recommends that the United States should adopt a national aviation and environmental goal of reducing the significant impacts of aircraft noise and emissions on local communities by the year 2025, notwithstanding anticipated growth in movement of people and goods. The report says that by that date, uncertainties regarding both the contribution of aviation to climate change and the impacts of aviation particulate matter and hazardous air pollutants, will be reduced to levels that enable appropriate action. This action would mitigate restraints on air travel, commerce, and national security. Emphasizing the diversity of the reports’ contributors, the report “vision” says that “Through broad inclusion and sustained commitment among all stakeholders, the U.S. aerospace enterprise will be the global leader in researching, developing, and implementing technological, operational and policy initiatives that jointly address mobility and environmental needs.”

Aviation Environmental Portfolio Management Tool
To analyze the benefits and costs of proposed actions, and to understand the interdependencies among emissions, and between noise and emissions, the FAA initiated the development of a comprehensive suite of software tools. PARTNER, through Project 3, is responsible for developing an element of this suite known as the Aviation Environmental Portfolio Management Tool. APMT will provide a thorough appraisal of all aviation-related environmental effects and their direct economic costs to the aviation industry and consumers. APMT's objective is to provide comprehensive cost and benefit estimates of aviation environmental impacts, considering interdependencies, for a range of assumptions and stakeholder viewpoints.

APMT has two components: APMT-Impacts and APMT-Economics. APMT-Economics focuses on industry and consumer response to environmental policies. APMT-Impacts focuses on human health and welfare and ecological impacts. APMT-Impacts has three modules: air quality, climate, and noise. Each module calculates the physical and monetary damages caused by aviation as well as the associated uncertainties. The modules are, used to analyze the impact of various policy actions. Each module is updated regularly to incorporate recent changes in scientific understanding, undergoes formal assessment processes, and benefits from review by experts.


Supporting the International Civil Aviation Organization/Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection, the Joint Planning and Development Office, and FAA decision-making and research need identification by creating an integrated modeling tool (the Aviation Design, Valuation, and Inventory System for Environment) for assessing aviation's environmental impact.

Supporting FAA decision-making and research need identification, including the International Civil Aviation Organization/Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection and Next Generation Air Transportation System activities, by creating an integrated modeling tool (the Aviation Design, Valuation, and Inventory System for Environment) for assessing aviation's environmental impact.

Relevance to NextGen environment and energy goals

The APMT tools have been used to assess the environmental costs and benefits of proposed Next Gen scenarios.

Participating universities

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology
University of North Carolina

Lead investigator

Ian Waitz, Professor, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

Project manager

Maryalice Locke


  • Report to the United States Congress: Aviation and the Environment. Ian Waitz, Jessica Townsend, Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, Edward Greitzer, Jack Kerrebrock. December 2004
  • Download (.pdf 1.4M)
  • Architecture Study for the Aviation Environmental Portfolio Management Tool. Ian Waitz, et al. June 2006. (Report No. PARTNER-COE-2006-002)
  • Download (.pdf 2.5M)
  • Prototype Work Plan for the Aviation Environmental Portfolio Management Tool. Ian Waitz, et al. June 2006. (Report No. PARTNER-COE-2006-003)
  • Download (.pdf 852K)
  • Requirements Document for the Aviation Environmental Portfolio Management Tool. Ian Waitz, et al. June 2006. (Report No. PARTNER-COE-2006-001)
  • Download (.pdf 1.4M)

Reports presented at the ICAO Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection

- 7th Meeting, 5-16 February 2007, Montréal, Canada

  • Aviation Environmental Portfolio Management Tool Progress. Download (.pdf 2.7M)
  • Demo & Assessment, US-Canada Environmental Tool Suite. Download (.pdf 576K)
  • Transition to Comp. Approach for Assess/Address Aviation Env. Impact. Download (.pdf 56K)

- 8th Meeting, 1-12 February 2010, Montréal, Canada

  • CAEP/8 NOX Stringency Cost-Benefit Analysis Demonstration Using APMT-Impacts. Download (.pdf 2.8M)
  • APMT-Economics and its Application in the CAEP/8 NOx Stringency Analysis. Download (.pdf 623K)
  • Update on U.S. Aviation Environmental Research and Development Efforts. Download (.pdf 127K

Coordination/collaboration with other PARTNER projects