- League table shows increasing use of quiet flight procedure “Continuous Descent Approach” by airlines at Heathrow
- Heathrow’s technical teams have coordinated with LOT to transform their quieter arrivals performance
- Finnair modifies their A-321 fleet at Heathrow with quieter technology
- Top quiet performers are amongst biggest airlines operating at Heathrow
Heathrow’s Fly Quiet League, the UK’s only ranking of airlines according to their noise performance, along with Heathrow’s tough limits and restrictions on noise, are successfully encouraging airlines to use their newest fleets at the airport and operate them in quieter ways. The news comes as the League marks its second year anniversary.
In the last two years, Fly Quiet League rankings have shown a clear upward trend in airlines’ use of the quiet flight procedure “Continuous Descent Approach” (CDA). This arrival procedure requires less engine thrust and keeps the aircraft higher for longer, helping to reduce noise. Since the launch of the Fly Quiet League, Polish operator LOT has almost doubled its use of CDA to 98 per cent. From July to September this year, 258 out of 263 LOT arrivals used this quieter approach into Heathrow. This dramatic improvement is due in large part to Heathrow’s collaborative approach to working with its airlines to encourage them to reduce their impacts on local communities.
The Fly Quiet League has also shown that the aircraft used at the airport over the course of two years are on average, newer and quieter. As a case in point, the latest results from July to September show Finnair’s technological modifications and recertification of its A-321 fleet have made these aircraft quieter and improved the airline’s score this quarter.
Heathrow plans to become the first large European airport to be free of the oldest and noisiest classification of aircraft – known internationally as ‘Chapter 3’. To encourage this, airlines at Heathrow are required to pay ten times more to fly ‘Chapter 3’ aircraft into the airport than they pay for the quietest, best in class planes.
The quietest three airlines in the latest rankings include two of the biggest operators at Heathrow - British Airways’ short haul operation and Aer Lingus.
Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s Director of Environment and Sustainability says,
“The Fly Quiet League table is a simple and effective way to demonstrate Heathrow’s best performing airlines in terms of noise performance and to encourage best practice amongst them. The fantastic results over the past two years are proof that airlines are willing to work with us and improve their noise performance.
As the airport operator we have committed to take the industry lead to reduce the impacts of Heathrow’s operations on our neighbours. If Heathrow were to expand, we have the potential to make further significant improvements, so that fewer people will be impacted by noise than today.”
Heathrow’s expansion plans have been designed so that a bigger airport could affect fewer people by noise than today. This can be achieved due to a combination of quieter aircraft technology and procedures, maintaining the principle of runway alternation, and the opportunity to alternate flight paths on departure as well as arrivals, something that isn’t possible today. Heathrow has also proposed to offer a world-class noise insulation programme worth more than £700 million, should the airport be allowed to expand.
Notes to Editors:
The latest Fly Quiet League table is included as a downloadable attachment on this webpage.
Previous Fly Quiet League results are available here: http://www.heathrow.com/noise/making-heathrow-quieter/flyquiet-programme
The Fly Quiet league table is published every quarter comparing each of the top 50 airlines (according to the number of flights to and from Heathrow per year) across six different noise metrics.)
The airlines received a red/amber/green rating for each criterion, as well as an overall score that allows them to understand how they are performing in relation to other airlines.
Airlines were consulted on which metrics would be used to compile the Fly Quiet league table. Each metric will be assigned a “RAG” (Red, Amber, Green) status based on the performance bands set for that indicator. As a result operators towards the top of the table will typically have more ‘green scores’ than those towards the bottom. Because scores fluctuate within a band it is possible for an airline with all green scores to sit further down the table, than those with amber or red scores. Individual metric scores will not be published. The ratings are corrected for the number of flights flown by each airline so airlines with more flights are not penalised.
The metrics below make up the Fly Quiet League Table:
- Noise quota count/seat/movement. This is a relative noise “efficiency” metric which scores the noise efficiency of an operator’s fleet, recognising that whilst larger aircraft tend to be noisier they also carry more passengers. It is calculated by dividing the sum of QC for arrivals and departures by the aggregate seat capacity and total movements by airline of those flights. This provides a balance between a QC/seat or QC/movement metric which will tend to overly bias long haul or short haul carriers respectively.
A ‘red’ score is awarded if the QC/seat/movement indicator exceeds 0.000022. An ‘amber’ score is awarded if the score is better than the minimum performance targets above but greater than 0.00001.
- Noise Certification – each aircraft is required to have a noise certificate which can be used to determine its relative performance against ICAO noise performance targets (Chapter 3 and Chapter 4). This allows us to recognise “best in class” and compare performance across different types. An average ‘per movement’ Chapter number value is calculated for each airline, which favours the airlines operating best-in-class, modern, quieter aircraft more frequently.
The minimum performance target in these metrics for the purpose of the Fly Quiet programme is Chapter 4. If the average score of an airline’s fleet operated to and from Heathrow is less than the Chapter 4 equivalent a ‘red score is awarded. A ‘green’ score is awarded if the average noise certification score of an airline is better than the equivalent of Chapter 4 base charging category (see our Conditions of Use www.heathrowairport.com).
- Arrival Operations: Continuous Descent Approach (CDA violations). CDA involves aircraft maintaining a steady angle of approach when landing at the airport, as opposed to stepped approaches which involve prolonged periods of level flight. This reduces noise because it requires less engine thrust and keeps the aircraft higher for longer. By following a CDA on arrival, the noise on the ground can be reduced by up to 5dBA in areas away from the final approach paths. The purpose of the indicator is to capture the non-CDA arrivals and so potentially reduce the disturbance caused.
The minimum performance target for the CDA compliance is set for 55% for the Fly Quiet programme. An airline achieving this but not exceeding 75% gets an ‘amber’ score; CDA compliance of 75% and more means a ‘green’ score is awarded.
- Departure Operations: Track deviations on departure (TK violations). Aircraft are required to stay within ‘noise preferential routes’ (NPRs) – 3km wide tracks in the sky, designated by the Government to route aircraft away from more densely populated areas as far as possible - until they reach 4000ft. The track deviations indicator is expressed as the proportion of departures that flew outside the NPRs below 4000ft. The purpose of the indicator is to capture the aircraft which operate outside of these boundaries and so potentially cause unexpected noise disturbance. Instances where this occurs for reasons outside of the airline’s control are excluded for the calculation.
The minimum performance target for the track keeping compliance is set for 85% for the Fly Quiet programme. An airline achieving this standard but not exceeding 90% gets an ‘amber’ score; CDA compliance of 90% and more means a ‘green’ score is awarded.
- Night time Operations 1: arrivals prior to 0430. There is a voluntary arrangement that aircraft scheduled to land between 0430 and 0600 will not land prior to 0430. This is a very sensitive time and issue for local community groups. The purpose of this indicator is to measure adherence to the operator schedules. It is measured as the number of flights arriving before 0430 as a proportion of the total number of arrivals for the airline.
Green: no infringements, Red: one or more infringements
- Night time Operations 2: unscheduled arrivals prior to 0600. Arrivals scheduled to land after 0600 should not land before then unless there are dispensing circumstances (e.g. Low visibility conditions). This is also a very sensitive time and issue for local community groups. The purpose of this indicator is to measure adherence to the operator schedules. It is measured as the number of unscheduled flights arriving between 0430 and 0600 as a proportion of the total number of arrivals for the airline.
Green: no infringements, Red: one or more infringements
As metrics 5 & 6 are limited in terms of the airlines they could affect but are nonetheless important issues for community stakeholders these have been weighted lower than the remaining 4 so as to not result in dramatic fluctuations in an airlines ranking. Instances where metrics 5 & 6 occur for reasons outside of the airline’s control are excluded for the calculation.
The set of indicators is designed to address the aims of the programme whilst giving the operators the opportunity to improve their ranking by short-term (i.e. operational/tactical) or long-term (e.g. fleet planning) measures.
· The overall ranking of operators in the league table is determined on the basis of the cumulative score resulting from six individual metrics; a lower overall score means higher ranking.
· The top 50 operators by number of movements in the given quarter are included in the league table – this aims to eliminate skewing results by including operators with infrequent operations while covering >90% of movements. The individual metrics are normalised before they are converted into the final partial score for the given operator and respective indicator.
· Operators are split into long-haul and short-haul by percentage of long-haul movements. Movements are defined on the basis of aircraft types deployed on the routes operated by the airline to/from Heathrow. A ‘long-haul aircraft’ for the purposes of the Fly Quiet programme is an aircraft which has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 180 tonnes or more.
· An operator is categorised as long-haul if long-haul movements represent more than 80% of the operator’s movements, and is categorised as short-haul if the long-haul movements represent <20% of the operator’s movements. Any operator with 20-80% long-haul movements is split and measured separately on its long-haul and short-haul traffic, i.e. two separate entries for the same airline can appear in the league table.
· The league tables will be published on a quarterly basis with an annual review and recognition of changes in performance.
· The indicators and calculation mechanisms are also proposed in a way that enables even the lower-ranked operators to show some ‘green’ scores rather than to award these operators ‘red’ scores only.