Colombia: Impact Of A Judgment Related With Aircraft Noise Reduction Requirements On The Operation Of Aircraft In Colombia.

Last Updated: 12 March 2001
Article by Hernán Rodríguez Domínguez

Resolution 721 of 1995 issued by the Colombian Air Authority established that aircraft that did not comply with the third stage noise requirements established in the Annexes to the International Civil Aviation Convention (which level of noise exceeds 62 decibels) could not operate in the Colombian air space as from January 1, 2003.

In 1994 the Colombian Air Authority applied to the Ministry of Environmental Affairs for obtaining an environmental license required for the construction of a second landing strip at El Dorado airport in Bogotá.

The Ministry of Environmental Affairs granted the license by means of Resolution 1330 of 1995. This resolution established as a condition for the license that aircraft that did not comply with third stage noise requirements could not operate at the El Dorado Airport in Bogotá as from January 1, 2000, apparently leaving without effect Resolution 721 of 1995 for the specific case of Bogotá.

Decree 2564 of 1999 issued by the Colombian Government, which contains rules related with operations in the Colombian airspace of aircraft not complying with third stage noise requirements, extended the term established by Resolution 1330 of 1995 for three more years.

On the other hand, the Procuraduría General de la Nación and the Defensoría del Pueblo, acting on behalf of the neighbors of the above-mentioned airport filed a class action before the Administrative Tribunal of Cundinamarca against the Colombian Air Authority to claim for the protection of their collective rights related with a healthy environment.

Pursuant to a judgment dated 23 January 2001, the Administrative Tribunal of Cundinamarca found that there was no reason for deferring the application of aircraft noise restrictions, specially taking into account that those restrictions were contained in an international law instrument ratified by Colombia (i.e. annexes to the Chicago Convention 1944).

Therefore, according to the Tribunal, the Air Authority should start verifying due completion of noise reduction legal provisions and, therefore, article 1 of Decree 2564 of 1999 should be suspended since it was an obstacle for such administrative action.

In view of the above, the Tribunal suspended the application of article 1 of Decree 2564 of 1999 and ordered that aircraft that fail to comply with third stage noise requirements established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (in an Annex to the Chicago Convention of 1944) would have to cease operating.

Notwithstanding the above, the Tribunal recognised the adverse impact of this decision for the operators of the aircraft involved and thus determined for the operation of the El Dorado Airport in Bogotá three deadlines (i.e. 1 May, 1 August and 1 December, 2001) which would apply to the aircraft involved based on their registration marks, so that their replacement or their technical update be done gradually.

It is worth noting that pursuant to the terms of the Tribunal's judgment, aircraft with foreign registration marks may not be affected by said judgment.

In view of the above, it may be concluded, that apparently, aircraft that do not comply with third stage noise requirements will not be able to operate at the El Dorado Airport in Bogotá as from the deadlines mentioned above.

However, the situation of the rest of the Colombian airports would not be clear since the above-mentioned judgment suspended Decree 2564 of 1999 (a general provision) but only gave instructions as to the deadlines applicable to Bogota´s airport.

Therefore, it could be argued that Resolution 721 of 1995 is still in effect in connection with the rest of the Colombian airports and that the restriction for aircraft not complying with third stage noise requirements would only begin as from January 1, 2003.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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