Heathrow’s second year of ‘Fly Quiet League’ shows planes are getting quieter

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The FINANCIAL — 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.

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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.


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