Research Note 95-4 - Airports, Air Pollution Mitigation Measures

No. 95-4
February 1995
California Environmental Protection Agency Brief Reports to the Scientific and Technical
Air Resources Board Community

Research Division, John R. Holmes, Ph.D., Chief P.O. Box 2815, Sacramento CA 98512

Air Pollution Mitigation Measures for Airport-Related Activities

This research identifies methods that can be used by airport project planners to evaluate the effectiveness of proposed specified measures in reducing emissions from aircraft and airport-related activities. The report for this project is a useful introduction to emissions inventory development and mitigation for airports, by airport size and type. This study was performed by Energy and Environmental Analysis.


The federal Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982, as amended in 1987, requires states to certify that there is reasonable assurance that proposed new airports, runways, and major runway extensions will be "located, designed, constructed, and operated so as to comply with applicable air quality ... standards, prior to receiving federal funding". This study was conducted to develop criteria and guidelines for reviewing airport projects to determine whether or not they fulfill this requirement.
Methods: The contractor identified a number of possible airport air pollution mitigation measures and developed or provided algebraic equations to be used to quantify the effectiveness of those mitigation measures in minimizing the emissions of hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and (to a limited extent) particulate matter.
Results: For large airports, hydrocarbon emissions from vehicular traffic through the airport and nearby areas are equal in magnitude (2,500 ton/year) to those from the aircraft; motor vehicle traffic appears to be the dominant source of carbon monoxide (24,000 ton/year, as compared with 6,000 ton/year for aircraft and 5,000 ton/year for support equipment). NOx emissions are higher from aircraft (3,500 ton/year) than from vehicular traffic (2,500 ton/year). Single-engine taxiing and reduced taxiing would be effective in reducing aircraft HC and CO emissions. All air pollutants would be significantly reduced if motor vehicles were restricted from idling and access to terminal areas were controlled.

Ground transportation control measures considered included employee and passenger trip reductions, management of vehicle circulation at the airport, reduction of curb idling times, and use of alternative fuels for rental cars and commercial vehicles.

Other mitigation measures include reducing the use of reverse thrust on aircraft landings; towing aircraft to a runway; using ground transport vehicles to take passengers to aircraft parked near runways; reducing delays on takeoff and landing; modernizing the aircraft fleet; establishing new aircraft engine emissions standards; using lower engine power at takeoff; using larger (and therefore fewer) aircraft; increasing the occupancy rate on aircraft; limiting the number of landings and takeoffs; providing electricity and conditioned air for aircraft at terminal gates; and converting ground support equipment to use alternative fuels.

The research report describes these mitigation measures and provides information to help planners select appropriate equations for quantifying the effectiveness of specific measures. (For information on how to order a copy of the report, see footer.) The equations are designed to produce site-specific results. The user of the report should be aware that airport-specific data are necessary in order to establish the most appropriate array of mitigation measures. Detailed analyses of airport-specific information should be based on comprehensive emissions models in current use in this field.

The report also provides the EPA's recently updated procedure for calculating emissions from civil and military aircraft, limited data on emissions from auxiliary power units, and a comprehensive database on aircraft emission factors for HC, CO, and NOx.
Significance and Application: The report is available for immediate use by airports and other entities such as air quality management districts, that are developing responses to the recently proposed Federal Implementation Plan. The report is also useful in the development of airport emissions mitigation plans and emissions inventories. Using the report, project planners will be able to formulate appropriate questions that can help lead to the determination of an airport's optimal air quality strategy.

This research was conducted under contract with Energy and Environmental Analysis (ARB Contract No. A132-168). Comments or questions can be directed to the contract manager, Bart Croes, by mail, FAX (916) 322-4357, phone (916) 323-1534, or e-mail: For an index of Research Notes, call (916) 445-0753 or FAX (916) 322-4357.
Copies of the research report upon which this Note is based can be ordered from:
National Technical Information Service
5285 Port Royal Rd
Springfield VA 22161
Request NTIS No. PB94-207610
Title: Air Pollution Mitigation Measures for Airport Related Activities
Author: Sandy Webb