Heathrow on Track to Become Free of Noisiest Aircraft

Latest ‘Fly Quiet’ league shows increase in use of quieter aircraft types

Heathrow, June 21, 2016:  Virgin Atlantic’s replacement of its old 747-400’s with top of the range Boeing 787 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.

As this trend shows, 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 the Dreamliner.

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.”

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.

The eleventh Fly Quiet table 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.

 

Metrics of  the Fly Quiet League Table

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 Individual metric scores will not be published.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 penalized.

  1. Noise quota count/seat/movement:This is a relative noise “efficiency” metric which scores the noise efficiency of an operator’s fleet, recognizing 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.

  1. 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 to recognize “best in class” and compare performance across different types. An average ‘per movement’ Chapter number value is calculated for each airline, which favors 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 program 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).

  1. 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 program. An airline achieving this but not exceeding 75% gets an ‘amber’ score; CDA compliance of 75% and more means a ‘green’ score is awarded.

  1. 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 program. 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.

  1. Night time Operations 1: Arrivals prior to 04:30. There is a voluntary arrangement that aircraft scheduled to land between 04:30 and 06:00 will not land prior to 04:30. 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 04:30 as a proportion of the total number of arrivals for the airline.

Green: no infringements, Red: one or more infringements

  1. Night time Operations 2: unscheduled arrivals prior to 06:00. Arrivals scheduled to land after 06:00 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 04:30 and 06:00 as a proportion of the total number of arrivals for the airline.

Green: no infringements, Red: one or more infringements

 

Some of the world’s toughest rules and regulations

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 program 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.

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.

Heathrow on Track to Become Free of Noisiest Aircraft

Virgin Atlantic’s replacement of its old 747-400’s with top of the range Boeing 787 have improved the airline’s noise record Photo: Heathrow Airport

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

Source: Heathrow Airport