Supersonic aircraft could be on their way back. The early push came from America. But now Europe is consulting on ways of regulating them. EASA (the European Aviation Safety Agency), which advises the European Union, has issued two public consultations, with comments invited by 25th July. There will be further rounds of consultation to come but these first ones will set the basic regulatory framework. They address the design standards of the aircraft and the prohibition of supersonic flight over land.

UECNA, the network of European airport community groups, has made a number of strong points in its response to the consultations:

  • It regrets it was not invited to provide the community perspective in the meetings which drew up the consultation documents. It argues the voice of the impacted communities should be heard in future meetings.
  • It rejects the view expressed in the consultation that ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organisation) requirements for the design of supersonic aircraft could not be exceeded by the European Union.
  • It strongly supports the idea to that noise certification standards of supersonic aircraft should be designed such that their results can be directly compared with those of subsonic aircraft: “After all, for citizens on the ground it makes no difference whether the noise is generated by a supersonic or subsonic aircraft”.
  • Indeed UECNA argues that the new generation of supersonic aircraft should be held to higher standards than those for existing subsonic aircraft because “noise levels of current subsonic aircraft are problematic in terms of their impact on the health and well-being of citizens around the world”. Any new aircraft should bring improvements or not be allowed. The increase in speed for the happy few should not lead to an increase in noise levels for millions of citizens on the ground.
  • It says that supersonics should not be allowed if they are noisier on take-off and landing than state of the art subsonic aircraft on the market at the time of their introduction. As such it would not be sufficient to apply CH14 standards, which were drawn up almost two decades ago, and are not representative of that technology level.
  • It concludes that at all times the regulatory limit level for supersonics should be adapted to maintain a level playing field between subsonic and supersonic aircraft in terms of their certification levels. For this it is not enough that the regulatory limits are the same. The way in which the noise is measured should also be the same. Current proposals allow deviation from the procedures that are not allowed for subsonic aircraft and which would give an unjustified advantage to supersonic aircraft.
  • EASA also published a proposal to prohibit supersonic flight over land. UECNA strongly supports this, but is of the view that this prohibition should extend sufficient distance over the ocean as well. This needed to ensure protection of citizens at the coast and on islands, given the famous ‘boom’ can be heard many kilometres away.


John Stewart | Vice-President | +44 7957 385 650
Dominique Lazarski | President | +33 630 826 593