U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act (S. 2387) that would make it a priority of the U.S. Government, through the National Aeronautics & Space Administration’s (NASA), to boost research into electric aircraft technology. Such authority would transform America’s aviation industry to develop airplanes that produce less greenhouse gas pollution and less noise, keeping domestic aviation companies competitive with the international industry.

Joining in the bill introduction were senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Congressman Don Beyer (D-Va.-08) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. Also, the Senate Commerce Committee included language from the Cleaner, Quieter Airplanes Act in the NASA Reauthorization.

“Air travel is important to our way of life and it is a key sector of our economy. But as air traffic volumes increase, so has exposure to noise and air pollution that has an adverse impact on our communities and environment. This has been a problem in Maryland, and it cries out for a long-term solution. We need to harness American ingenuity and find a new way to support our thriving aviation industry while addressing these concerns,” said Cardin. “Government-funded research undertaken by NASA in collaboration with industry partners is critical to the development of new technologies and concepts in electric aircraft.”

“For years, I have fought against disruptive flight paths and excessive airplane noise in communities impacted by our region’s airports. While we must continue working with our communities and the FAA to resolve these issues, the development of cleaner, quieter airplanes is an important step towards a sustainable, long-term solution. That’s why I’m pleased to join in the introduction of this legislation. I will continue working to support communities impacted by aircraft noise and the development of permanent solutions for the future,” said Van Hollen.

Aviation currently accounts for approximately three percent of greenhouse gas emissions, but emissions from this sector are expected to triple by 2050. In addition, as air traffic volumes increase, communities are increasingly impacted by noise pollution from airplanes.

This legislation sets a goal for cleaner, quieter airplanes by 2030 (regional transport planes) and 2040 (single-aisle planes), and it authorizes NASA to accelerate its work developing and demonstrating the technologies to make this goal a reality.

Specifically, this bill:

● Establishes an ambitious goal of commercial airplanes emitting 50 percent less carbon and 50 percent less noise compared to 2019 levels by 2030 for regional planes and 2040 for larger, single-aisle planes.

● Authorizes NASA to accelerate its work on electrified propulsion systems and the integration of multiple technologies and airframe concepts to achieve noise and emissions reductions.

● Challenges NASA to work with industry partners to carry out flight tests by 2025 and to bring new airplanes into service between 2030 and 2040.

● Authorizes $1.2 billion in appropriations over six years in order to achieve this goal.

● Requires NASA to provide guidance on new technologies to help the FAA’s work to ensure the safe and effective deployment of these technologies.