Restricting the use of reverse thrust as an emissions reduction strategy



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As more metropolitan areas approach “non-attainment” status for ozone, air pollution at airports is becoming an increasingly important topic. Most proposed emissions reduction strategies target passenger automobiles and airport ground service equipment (GSE). At many airports, the future growth in oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions from aircraft is likely to offset any reduction achieved from GSE or passenger vehicles. In some metropolitan areas, airports may be responsible for as much as 10% of the regional NOx. As a result, other alternatives are needed for emissions reduction at airports. Reverse thrust is commonly used along with wheel brakes to slow aircraft during landing and occasionally to “power-back” aircraft away from a boarding gate. Currently, air pollution emissions generated during reverse thrust are not included in airport emissions inventories. Since the majority of aircraft NOx emissions occur offairport during climbout and approach, reverse thrust can be responsible for an additional 15% or more of the on-airport NOx. This can create significant air quality impacts in the vicinity of the busiest airports. This dissertation will attempt to quantify and model the air quality effect of NOx emissions produced during reverse thrust, using Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport as a case study. A policy analysis will also be performed, identifying the legal and safety ramifications resulting from a restriction on thrust reverse usage.