An index for assessing national progress in controlling discharges of aircraft deicers to the environment

March 13, 2018

ACI WorldIn 2012, the Voluntary Pollution Reduction Programme, a collaboration between aviation trade associations in the United States, committed to establishing and achieving a national goal for reducing the discharge of aircraft deicers through the use of Pollution Reduction Technologies (PRT). These reduce the amounts of chemicals needed for deicing, collect and dispose of run-off containing deicers or enhance the effectiveness of source reduction and collection efforts.

The Programme faced a major challenge in measuring progress on a national basis. The performance of PRTs varies from airport to airport, as well as from year to year at each airport depending on weather, traffic and other factors. Data availability and continuity across airports was also identified as a significant constraint. To address these obstacles, an approach was developed to measure the relative capacity to manage and reduce deicing discharges as an index, where increases in the index value reflect decreases in relative amounts of deicers discharged and environmental risk. This approach is similar in philosophy to environmental indices such as the Index of Biotic Integrity and USEPA’s DRASTIC index.

The Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) Management Capacity Index uses a numerical scoring system to quantify the aggregate capacity of PRTs used by both aircraft operators and airports to manage Biochemical Oxygen Demand. PRTs are scored according to their relative influence in reducing deicer discharges and their extent of use. Higher ACI WorldIndex values indicate a greater capacity to manage BOD. Weighting factors balance the effect of differences in the scale of deicing operations among airports on the Index. The result is a robust indicator of the industry’s BOD management capacity, independent of year-to-year variations in weather and operations.

PRT deployment at U.S. airports representing approximately 83% of total national aircraft deicer usage was used to calculate the national BMC Index values at the ends of the 2004–2005 and 2016–2017 deicing seasons, which marked the start and end of the Programme. The table shows a 36% improvement in the national level Index values over that period.

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