Heathrow press releases

21 June, 2016

Record number of Dreamliners improves Heathrow airlines’ noise record

Control Tower

  • Latest ‘Fly Quiet’ league shows increase in quieter aircraft types across the airport  
  • Virgin Atlantic up five places, having phased out older aircraft  
  • Heathrow on track to become first large European airport free of  oldest and noisiest aircraft

 

Virgin Atlantic’s replacement of its old 747-400’s with top of the range Dreamliners have improved the airline's noise record over January to March of this year, the latest Fly Quiet League table shows.  Air Canada, Air India, British Airways and Qatar have also significantly increased their use of 787 Dreamliners on their Heathrow routes this past year. This has contributed to an overall 6% improvement in the total league table score tracking the use of quieter aircraft at Heathrow, the “chapter number” scores.

Early phase out of the noisiest planes is a key part of Heathrow’s Noise Blueprint. Heathrow is on track to become the first large European airport to be completely free of “Chapter 3” aircraft the oldest and noisiest classification, due in part to the heavy fees airlines pay to land these planes at Heathrow. On average, airlines pay ten times more to fly Chapter 3 planes to Heathrow than they pay for the quietest aircraft, like Dreamliners. 

The last three months have also shown some improvement in airlines adhering to the noise preferential routes in the skies around Heathrow as set by Government –  or what is known as “track keeping”.  Air France and Aegean moved up 7 places because of their track keeping while SN Brussels’s track keeping has improved its score from “amber” ratings to “green.” 

 

Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Sustainability and Environment said:

“It’s encouraging to see the positive results of our engagement with airlines in these latest Fly Quiet results. Replacing aircraft with newer, quieter types is one of the best ways to reduce noise and that is why the progress shown in the latest league standings is so important.

The results today are part of a wider trend seen at Heathrow, as airlines continue to use their newest planes not only because of our fees and their responsibilities to our local neighbours, but also because our routes are so sought after and they want to offer passengers the best, and quietest aircraft experience available.”

 

Meigan Terry, Senior Vice President, External Affairs at Virgin Atlantic commented:

“We’re delighted to see our huge investment in quieter and more fuel efficient aircraft paying off for the local communities around Heathrow, as well as for our customers. Our thirteenth 787-9 aircraft entered service at the airport just last week. We expect to have seventeen of these aircraft operating by 2018, creating one of the youngest and quietest long-haul fleets in the world.”

 

Heathrow has some of the world’s toughest rules and regulations on noise which has played a major role in driving developments in quieter aircraft technology. Limits and restrictions in force at Heathrow, and in particular those that apply to flights at night, promote the use of ‘best in class’ aircraft. These incentives have contributed to more of the quietest planes being used at Heathrow – on average the aircraft that airlines use are 15 per cent quieter than the total global fleets of those airlines.

 

Notes to editors:

The eleventh Fly Quiet table, attached as a JPEG here, rated the top 50 airlines operating at Heathrow (by number of flights per quarter) according to six noise related criteria. 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.

As some elements of the Fly Quiet league, for example CDA, are influenced by seasonal variables, comparisons between the same quarterly periods of year to year are particularly useful.

For more information on Heathrow’s Blueprint for noise reduction please see: http://www.heathrow.com/noise/making-heathrow-quieter/our-noise-strategy/blueprint-for-noise-reduction​

Further details about the Fly Quiet programme:

The six noise metrics

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:

1. 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.

2. 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).

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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

6. 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

7. 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.

Methodology

·         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