B.C. Air Quality

Aircraft Emissions

Burning fuel in an aircraft jet engine produces the same suite of emissions as cars. However, aircraft produce a relatively high amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) due to the high combustion temperature in jet engines. Aircraft emissions are unique in that a significant proportion of emissions take place at high levels in the atmosphere. This creates some unique concerns as the aircraft emissions contribute to the formation of contrails and high cirrus clouds which contribute to global warming.

Aircraft exhaust emissions in Canada are regulated by Transport Canada in accordance with international standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The ICAO proposes standards for nitrogen oxide and smoke emissions that apply to new aircraft engines.

According to Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI), air transportation accounts for approximately 0.4% of total emissions of particulate matter (the smoke you see) in British Columbia. By comparison, on-road diesel vehicles account for 1.3% of particulate matter in B.C. and home heating with wood accounts for about 21%.


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