FAA Adopts Carbon Limits For Airliners


The FAA has issued a final rule that will require most larger aircraft built after Jan. 1, 2028, to meet new efficiency standards designed to reduce their carbon emissions per passenger mile. The new rule will cover all subsonic jets with a maximum takeoff weight of more than 12,500 pounds and turboprops with an MTOW of 19,000 pounds. The new rules will bring the U.S. in line with ICAO standards and are part of the U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan. “We are taking a large step forward to ensure the manufacture of more fuel-efficient airplanes, reduce carbon pollution, and reach our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050,” said FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker. The rule sets fuel efficiency limits based on calculations of the planes’ size vs. fuel burn.

The FAA says the rule covers everything from a Citation to a 787 and includes turboprops like Viking Q400s and ATR42s. It will not be applied retroactively to aircraft built before Jan. 1, 2028, but it may end production of one of the longest-running designs currently being built. It’s been years since production of passenger versions of the Boeing 767 have been built but the freight version is still being built, more than 40 years after the type went into service. FedEx and UPS have a total of 37 of the freighters on order but Boeing says orders beyond 2028 are thought to be minimal. The plane would have to get new engines to carry on, and Boeing has already hinted at building a freight version of the much more efficient 787.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Indeed. The “environmentalism” doesn’t know how to watch to the others causes of carbon emissions that are, by far, producing more CO2 than the actual fleet of planes?

    • Every segment of every industry needs to reform; aviation makes a significant carbon contribution; it must be reduced.
      Higher standards in automotive have given us unbelievable efficient vehicles; fuel economy that wasn’t dreamed of in the fifties and sixties; power outputs that would be unimaginable.
      Similarly, noise and pollution standards have improved turbine engines enormously.
      The early 707 engines; “made a lot of noise, a lot of smoke, burned a lot of fuel, and produced a bit of power”;
      Current engines such as that on the latest 777, or A220 burn far less fuel, produce far more power, while making less noise and dirt.
      What is wrong with improving things?
      Standards encourage manufacturers; this is just bringing the US in line with the world; or would you rather be behind?

      • Brian, I concur wholeheartedly. I’m so tired of ignorant people constantly badmouthing every governmental attempt to clean our environment and limit climate change, both of which are existential threats to my children and grandchildren.

      • Let’s keep in mind how terribly poorly CAFE standards, and many other environmental regulations have been. This rule may have been the product of a lot of forethought and research based on science and motivated only by concern for the environment, but it would be the first.
        The angry hot takes may not be the best thought out reactions, but they are mostly just reactions based on lived experience and not whatever motivations usually get attributed.
        Future generations are quite often more worse off due to unintended consequences than made better by more laws and regulations.
        The impulse that we must due something should not overcome the mandate we not do harm.

      • Brian,

        You say early 707 engines made a lot of noise, a lot of smoke, burned a lot of fuel, and produced a bit of power. You are correct sir, I was there and saw that. You are also correct the new engines powering the new jets burn far less fuel and produce far more power, while making less noise and dirt. What’s wrong with improving things? Nothing wrong with that. But every increase in power or reduction in fuel flow was done by engine manufacturers in response to market forces, NOT due to government influence or regulation. Anytime the government gets involved things get worse.

  2. With this being an ICAO standard, and presumably other states having adopted it, I wonder whether it will have much of an impact in real terms. Higher carbon emissions implies higher fuel burns. And a U.S. manufactured aircraft that has higher fuel burns than, say, an Airbus, Embraer or Bombardier will ultimately be uncompetitive. Many of these initiatives will probably already be well underway with engine manufacturers designing powerplants to meet cleaner/lesser emissions requirements and airline customers demanding the same.

  3. “reduce their carbon emissions per passenger mile.” Just put more seats in each plane. More passengers less emissions per passenger. Private aircraft with only a dozen seats??

  4. All based on the false premise that the gas humans exhale and what all plants need to survive, CO2, is a hazard to our environment. Total nonsense. We should be using more fossil fuel, producing more CO2, not less. The real facts prove it. Find them in Alex Epstein’s best-seller, “Fossil Future: Why Global Human Flourishing Requires More Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas”.

      • Whoa, brother. Looking at most of what is released for general consumption would convince the reasonably educated, experienced, and skeptical that global warming and climate change are anything but scientific and important. That’s a big part of why the problem will persist.

  5. We continue to shoot ourselves in the foot in delusion that we need to save the planet.

    I’m all for efficiency and fuel savings through market driven innovation and technology.

    But apparently we have learned that top down Soviet style mandates don’t work (Ford lost $Billions last year on EVs, other companies are terminating EV production).

    Mandates only drive up the cost of goods and services.

    I get up everyday thinking about ways to increase my carbon footprint and will not bend the knee to lunatic environmental/climate gestapo.

    • I agree. I always think of my “carbon emissions”, when I drive to the airport in my comfortable, hemi powered pickup, to go fly the 9 passenger seat business jet I am employed for. Even more so when I have a 1+hour empty positioning flight to fly to pickup the airplane owner.

      • Ya beat me to it, Matt … I laugh every time I drive my 460 V8 powered Ford pickup knowing how many trees and crops I made happy that day. WE are the true ‘tree huggers.’ The others are trying to kill the trees.

    • It will shackle most aircraft and kill manufacturers outright. The FAA will be just fine. It is running on money that’s being printed with no backing. The gov’t will just make some more.

  6. This “net zero carbon emissions” nonsense is just a back door tax scheme. I could care less about what ICAO does. Note that no other ICAO signatories have anything close to an aviation system that the US has. And yet the FAA keeps using “falling in line with ICAO” excuse to take away more aviation related freedoms we still have.

  7. Sea levels are rising. Glaciers are melting. Global temperatures are rising (and the rate of the temperature increase is accelerating). Last year was the warmest year since the measurement has been collected. Climate models have been incorrect – they underestimated the rate of increase of global temperatures in response to greenhouse gasses. (I know, the climate has been changing for millennia… but never at this rate).

    But, hey, a bestselling book says we should burn more fossil fuel, and since all bestselling book are perfectly correct, it makes sense to disregard the consensus of a large number of extremely well informed scientists and go with the author’s opinion. Besides, what do scientists know that a bunch of pilots don’t?

    Humanity will ultimately be a victim of itself. Our evolutionary imperative for self-preservation can only act on threats that occur on a time frame shorter than the duration of fertility of a typical female – say 25 years (that’s how evolution works). So, dealing with a threat of that duration, or longer, requires actual cognitive effort to understand climate change for the threat that it is. Unfortunately, our evolutionary heritage has also made us fiercely tribal, so I don’t expect to see much progress on this issue now, or into the future.

    In the long run, our ingenuity (mechanical work from the combustion of fossil fuel) will be our downfall.

    • I’m sorry, but have you seen the photographs of the Statue of Liberty from the early 1900’s compared to those of a few years ago? Harbor/sea level is the same.
      How about the Hong Kong airport? They built a new runway there at the same level as the other two, mere feet above sea level. Obviously, the Chinese aren’t buying this either.
      Yes, you engineer the highest efficiency aircraft, cars, trucks, trains, whatever, but don’t use ridiculous and unsubstantiated nonsense to scare us into it.

      • Yep … every time I read that ‘the seas are rising’ crap I get so nervous I have to run out in by back yard to see if the ocean ate my dock … the ONLY difference I see is tidal flow, king tides and occasional nor’easters driving the level up temporarily. The lemmings just can’t see the forest for the trees due to their preoccupation with bravo sierra.

        • Maybe type “Are sea levels rising?” into Google and see if you get anything that agrees with your beliefs. As if a photo of the Statue of Liberty has the resolution to see a change in sea level. We aren’t talking about six feet here.

          “Ridiculous and unsubstantiated”? Good grief, climate change deniers are the poster child for those accusations.

          • You want people to stop driving ICE cars and all the other crazy notions to stop seas rising so slow and so small that it has to be measured with a mimcrometer. Are you kidding??? And you’re calling that an existential threat. Geesh.

          • You know, the earth is flat. Every photo I take from my back yard shows a flat earth. Photos taken 100 years ago also show the earth is flat. So, all the nonsense I hear about a round earth is just silly. Common sense makes it obvious that it is flat.

            Sound familiar?

  8. The Climate, by definition, is ALWAYS changing.

    But over the course of that last 1,000 years humans have adapted to the changes in the climate (both cold and warm).

    The future will be the same, the climate is not static and humans use their intelligence and technology to adapt and prosper.

    The planet is not going to burn up, humans will not ignite in flames if we don’t recycle and go back to living in caves.

    This all about what it’s always been about, money.

    • You might want to look at many data sources, all of which agree that the climate change of the past 50 years is substantially greater than any climate change that occurred over last 1,000 years. You are entitled to your own opinion. Your own facts, on the other hand…

  9. I don’t quite see aviation coming to an end because Boeing is no longer producing 767 freighters. My only hope is that they don’t start building 737Max 11 freighters.

  10. The trick will be to find a suitable planet to escape to before this one becomes uninhabitable. That’s not an issue for me, but I’ll bet there are going to be an increasing number of smart twelve-year-olds that are going to be furious with their parents and grandparents. The same way I felt growing up in the South and realizing what we had been doing to our Black neighbors. Just because you always got away with it before, doesn’t make it right, or smart.

  11. Brian Hope, WB John,

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with moving forward with ideas and trying to make things better. 100% on board with that. However, I’m not on board with government mandating something that’s not attainable. Technology that is forced and mandated always ends up being inferior to what it could be if it happens and progresses naturally, with comprehensive research and technology and advancement. Furthermore, the sun has the most effect on the earths weather. 60% through atmospheric circulation, and 40% in oceanic circulation. It’s rather arrogant to think that human beings are the only affect on the climate. Especially since we have improved greatly in this manner over the last 50 years. It seems as if these carbon emissions are always a moving target and never realistic. Carbon emitted from plants is different from carbon emitted from a gas burning engine. I also agree that we need to cut back on carbon, but not to the detriment of jobs, any industry or the economy. That’s why it needs to happen naturally as I mentioned before.

  12. The lemmings are SO preoccupied with supporting the Government and other unelected bureaucratic omnipotent entities taking away our freedoms and liberties ‘in the name of climate change’ that they totally gloss over what should be the answer to THEIR manufactured dilemma. IF the notion that too many people are producing too much co2, then the reverse would also be true … reduce the number of people — with the attendant production of co2 — and the planet will revert backwards toward prehistoric time and climate. (Ignore those periods where co2 were higher than now … it doesn’t fit the narrative) What this planet needs is a good reduction in population; I can think of several very easy ways to accomplish that. THEN, the John Kerry’s of the world — sorry to the guy I drive nutty saying that — will be free to fly their jets all day long without hurting the planet. At that point, we won’t need airliner carbon limits, the dinosaurs and mastodons will reappear and everyone will live in utopia. EASY!

    • I’ve been down a similar rabbit hole and decided if the problem is so existential, how come there’s no move to replace income taxes with carbon taxes? It would actually be a great way to realign good incentives. Seems though that the existential problem of climate is less existential than going back 100 years or so to when the income tax was still unconstitutional and known to be something that would turn into the monstrous scam and poison in the body politic it has become.

  13. I wonder how many who believe this carbon emission, global warming stuff actually practice what they preach? Still riding on an airliner? How about riding or driving an auto. Electric auto doesn’t count, that electricity has to be generated somewhere if not close to a dam. Oh wait, our current government wants to destroy certain dams out west! When I see people walking or riding a bicycle, oh wait that bike was produced with metal that requires something to generate heat to make the metal that bike was made from, same with the tires, to work or to a store for food then I’ll believe the issue. Still like refrigerated foods? Where do you think the energy comes from to make that refrigerator cold? I could go on and on, on the hypocrisy of this issue, John Kerry is a perfect example. Sorry about the rant, I just get tired of hearing about this, then the same people complaining about it returning to their normal, contributing to global warming, routine!

    • Me, too, Matt … me too. The whole thing is a scam.

      I cannot deny — and don’t — that ICE autos of today are far more efficient than the behemoths of yesteryear. LED bulbs produce equivalent light with far less power. There are other places where modern tech made things better. But when they ORDER us to drive EV’s, forbid using gas appliances and so on, they can KMA! At that point, they’ve gone TOO far. And the lemmings that buy into all this baloney need to talk the talk and stop trying to order ME to bow to their demands.

  14. The climate change deniers amaze me. Has the climate constantly changed over millennia? Of course it has, change is the one constant in our universe.

    However the idiot comments like we need CO² ignore the fact humans at one point couldn’t survive on Earth. Why? The planet was full of CO² and other greenhouse gases. (They also seem to ignore the easily proven and easy to see process of how an actual greenhouse works) It wasn’t till an abundance of Oxygen replaced the CO², methane, etc that human life became possible.

    Bottom line, if there was any doubt, an actual greenhouse visit should eliminate it. However it of course it won’t. It’s not that theu disbelieve that is really the issue. The issue is humans in general are selfish. We care about ourselves. We don’t want to pay a price to help others, even if the others are our future generations of one’s descendents.

    • What if the price of less reactionary push back was to stop a lot of the demands on the people who earn which actually do not affect you physically at all? IOW, think about things the government does which you think ought to be done, but really do not affect you directly. Things you might have a strong opinion about, but which primarily have to do with things outside your life. Or, maybe it’s things that you don’t even think about which fill books of regulations.
      The CO2 thing is just one of hundreds of things people are told they have to accept and pay for. If it’s really so important, what of the other things can we give up that you want or don’t care about? Don’t list things you feel are a waste and want to get rid of already. If you can honestly do that, you’ll have I think you will have a lot more understanding of where that pushback is coming from.
      The CO2 thing is the rainy day, and the bank account where the money supposedly saved for it was emptied for a lot of unnecessary stuff similarly labeled as existential.

      • Good point, Eric. And while we’re on this climate change subject … look what the TOO rapid push to EV’s is about to do to Europe:


        Be careful what you ask for … you MIGHT just get it … right where the sun doesn’t shine so much …

  15. Hope Boeing picks someone other than those they used on the 737 MAX project to manage and control the 787 cargo project

  16. For those of you who don’t know a little climate history, Please look up the graph “Post Glacial Sea Level Rise” (120m that’s 400ft) that is in every geology textbook that discusses the Quaternary Period: specifically the last 14,000 years including the Holocene. Please note the reference to “Meltwater Pulse”. My Oh My!! Those Mesopotamians must have had some really big campfires!
    If you really want to know what affects the Earth’s temperature look up the Milankovitch (Orbital) Cycles The eccentricity of the earth’s orbit, and the oscillation of the earth’s axis -Obliquity, and Axial precession. Notwithstanding the fact that we really don’t know if the Sun’s energy output varies.
    Some are so worried about a 1.4mm annual rise instead of the 1.1mm historical (last 5,000years) rise they will promote poverty. Remember the ancient Great Harbor docks in Alexandria are now under water. The Great Barrier Reef used to be part of the Australian land mass.
    When we run low on oil, solar will provide most of our energy (the sun shines on Nevada) and the chemists have already figured out how to turn either CO2 or calcium carbonate into methane.
    “Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:”
    Or the modern view “People destroy themselves for lack of knowledge”

    • “Promoting poverty …”

      You’ve framed my position in another way that’s also poignant, John. We’re SO worried about minutia that we’re willing to destroy civilization as we know it to make SOME people feel better while doing literally almost nothing. We man to totally disappear from the planet, the climate would STILL be changing. It’s one thing to not pour our used motor oil on the earth or to recycle things or to otherwise be smart about things. When we get to the point where we’re DEMANDING massive changes in how man lives … the mythical “they” have gone TOO far. My link — above — shows one such example in Europe. Getting back to the subject du jour — airliner standards — it isn’t gonna make a speck of difference. And if John Kerry’s jet spews too much … he’ll just buy carbon offsets. Give me a break !!