The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing new “Stage 5” aircraft noise standards for certain subsonic jet airplanes and subsonic transport category large airplanes. Such standards would reduce the noise produced by new airplanes in these categories as well as harmonize noise standards for U.S.-certificated airplanes with new, more stringent International Civil Aviation Organization noise standards that became effective on July 14, 2014. 

All new aircraft designs must secure approval from the FAA in the form of a type certificate, which demonstrates to the FAA that an aircraft complies with applicable FAA regulations and also acts as the foundation for production and airworthiness approvals. In its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FAA states that the Stage 5 standards would apply to type certificate applications made on or after December 31, 2017 for airplanes with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of 121,254 pounds or more, and to type certificate applications made on or after December 31, 2020 for aircraft with a maximum certificated takeoff weight of less than 121,254 pounds. Applicants may also choose to voluntarily comply with the Stage 5 standards after the rule becomes effective but before the new limits are required.

The FAA cautioned that the adoption of the Stage 5 noise standards for new airplane type designs should not be interpreted as a “phasing out” of existing noise standards that apply to the production or operation of current airplane models, and that there are no “operational restrictions nor production cut-offs” on the use of Stage 3 or Stage 4 airplanes in the United States.  Comments on the proposed rule are due by April 13, 2016.