The Senate passed a bill yesterday by a 78-5 vote that would allow airlines to continue using some planes that do not meet stringent new noise standards if they have ordered quiet new planes to replace them.
The bill is designed to encourage the airlines to buy planes using the latest technology - making them both more quiet and fuel-efficient-rather than retrofit the old ones. Commerce Committee Chairman Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.) is the bill's sponsor.
Under the bill, an airline could continue to operate for up to three years a plane that doesn't meet new noise abatement requirements if it had a signed contract to buy as a replacement one of the quietest of the new planes available.
Under existing Federal Aviation Administration regulations, airlines are required to retrofit or replace two-engine and three-engine jets to meet the standards by Jan. 1, 1983, and foru-engine jets by Jan. 1, 1985.
On the floor, the Senate adopted an amendment sponsored by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) that would require the FAA administer its regulations in such a way to make sure they result in perceivable noise reductions.
The legislation also provides $175 million in new spending authority from the airway and Airport Development Fund for airport facilities and land acquisition for noise-abatement purposes.
Hearings on similar legislation have been held in the House but no action has been taken.