Local Air Quality

One of ICAO’s Environmental Protection Strategic Objectives is to limit or reduce the impact of aircraft engine emissions on local air quality.

Due to the increasing amount of residential development surrounding airports and the continued growth of commercial air travel, air pollution surrounding airports has become a significant concern for local/ regional governments.

Local air quality concerns concentrate on effects created during the landing and take-off (LTO) cycle as these emissions are released below 3,000 feet (915 metres) and releases from airport sources (such as airport traffic, ground service equipment, and de-icing). The illustration below shows the LTO cycle used by ICAO in the emissions certification procedure.

The contaminants emitted by aircraft and airport sources can affect human health and the environment. ICAO is working on initiatives to improve local air quality, as well as proposing mitigation measures.

Aircraft and airport emissions can be calculated through either ambient air monitoring or computer modelling (or a combination of both for increased accuracy). ICAO’s Airport Air Quality Guidance Manual contains advice for the assessment of airport-related air quality.

When assessing airport and aircraft emissions it is important to note the many variables that will affect an individual airport differently than sites. Some of these considerations are:


  • Not all airports contain the same sources or contaminants, consider each airport separately;
  • Local meteorology should be used for computer modelling;
  • Surrounding land uses could affect wind and airflow patterns

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