Heathrow press releases

30 November, 2017

New report shows Heathrow’s noise footprint at smallest recorded levels

Heathrow Airport, Air India B787 Dreamliner aircraft


  • Heathrow reveals new noise metrics and shows noise footprint is at its smallest since tracking started in 2006
  • 15% fewer households affected by noise levels
  • New quarterly ‘Fly Quiet and Green’ league table unveiled, ranking airlines on noise and emission performance from April to June

A new annual noise contour report shows that Heathrow airport’s noise footprint continues to shrink – with over 52,000 fewer households impacted by noise compared to 2006.

Independent analysis from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) commissioned by Heathrow, shows that the average noise contours continue to grow smaller. This analysis, which has been undertaken regularly since 2006, forms part of the airport’s Noise Action Plan and a commitment to deliver more regular and transparent communications to local residents.  This year, in response to community requests, Heathrow has included new metrics in the analysis that look at overflight track density diagrams and single mode contours, making this ‘super report’ the most comprehensive noise contour report ever published by the airport.

The independent report shows that over the past 11 years, the area around the airport affected by average noise measurements over the course of a 24 hour operating day, as measured using the preferred European measure of noise (Lden 55 dAB), has decreased by 15%. This means 15% fewer households within the area are impacted by noise. Had the population and households remained static during this period, there would be 21% fewer homes affected by these noise levels.  

This report is published at the same time as the latest quarterly ‘Fly Quiet and Green’ results, ranking the performance of 50 airlines on seven noise and emission metrics from July to September this year. The latest results show competition is heating up as airlines improve ‘track keeping’ – the ability to adhere to the Government-set departure noise preferential routes in the skies from Heathrow  – and bring, what the airport is now calling, their ‘greenest’ aircraft to the UK hub.

The new league table ranks Air India fleet as the quietest flying to Heathrow from July to September, up a highly impressive 41 places since the first league table ranking performance from January to March of this year. The airline’s fleet at Heathrow is made up almost exclusively of state-of-the-art, super-quiet Dreamliners. Oman Air’s performance has drastically improved, following engagement with Heathrow’s noise team on how to improve their operations. Oman have achieved a 98% ‘track keeping’ record helping to boost their position 15 places since June this year. ‘Track keeping’ winners also include China Southern, up an impressive 17 places since June, and regional airline Flybe improving their position from 29th to 18th place.

Heathrow Sustainability Director Matt Gorman said:

“Heathrow has some of the world’s toughest rules and regulations on noise, which have played a major role in driving developments in quieter aircraft technology. Over the past 30 years, we have managed to more than double our passenger numbers whilst decreasing our noise footprint to its smallest levels yet – this is testament to the efforts of Heathrow and our airline and manufacturing partners to reduce the impact of the operations. 

“While we mark significant progress today with more airlines changing their operations in response to the Fly Quiet and Green league table, we also know that we need to continue to develop how we communicate on noise. This new ‘super report’ contains a range of new metrics that will better inform the next Noise Action Plan and give our local community a clearer picture of noise patterns around the airport and the opportunities to reduce noise further still.”

Heathrow is also playing its part in helping to improve technology by increasing the amount the noisiest, oldest aircraft pay to land at the airport. This year, the airport has doubled the tariff attached to nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. This means environmental landing charges for airlines have doubled this year – from £8.57 per kg of NOx emitted to £16.51 per kg – providing another incentive to use cleaner aircraft. The noisiest planes will face a trebling in charges to £9,000 per landing.





Heathrow Contouring Report

To see the new annual Heathrow Contouring Report, go to www.heathrow.com/noise/facts,-stats-and-reports/reports

Heathrow’s new ‘super’ report combines the data found in two reports: the CAA’s 16-hour day contours, reported at Heathrow since 1974 and the 2016 Strategic Noise Mapping contours (Lday, Levening, Lnight, and Lden), required for the EU Environmental Noise Directive (END).

The EU introduced ‘Lden’ in 2006, measuring the annual average relating to the 24 hour period, adding extra weighting to aircraft noise occurring in the evening and at night. In 2006, 756,000 people were exposed to the 55 dBA Lden contour around Heathrow, compared to 689,000 in 2016.

The latest contours will feed into the airport’s new Noise Action Plan (NAP) for the period 2019-2023. The current Noise Action Plan can be found here: www.heathrow.com/noise/making-heathrow-quieter/noise-action-plan


Fly Quiet and Green

By publishing the table each quarter, Heathrow aims to recognise good performance, provide airlines with regular feedback, and identify specific areas to be targeted for improvement.  Heathrow will engage with airlines showing red results in the latest league table to improve their rating.

Information on the Fly Quiet and Green programme, along with previous rankings can be found here: www.heathrowflyquietandgreen.com/