Heathrow has highest weekly number of (noisy) 747 flights of any world airport

Figures from Anna aero, which celebrates routes, flights, links etc and associated airports, show that  Heathrow continues to have by far the highest number of Boeing 747s of any other global airport. 747s are noisy planes, as well as being huge. They are likely to be as noisy as – or even noisier than – the A380. Some studies show the A380 being up to 5 decibels quieter at some measurement stations, though it depends on which engines the planes are using; the noise is both from engines and airframe. The 747 – 400 is ranked as Quote count 4 on departure and 2 on arrival. By comparison the A320 series is ranked at about 2 and 1 respectively.  Anna aero shows Heathrow has 298 weekly departures of Boeing 747s, with the next  highest airport Taipei with 174. Then third is Frankfurt, with 150.  Now the A380 has taken over for new orders, there have been fewer and fewer new 747s being delivered, with just 20 ordered in the past 5 years and zero ordered in 2013.



London Heathrow Airport – still #1 for Boeing ‘jumbo’ jet ops

7.11.2013 (Anna Aero)
Old jumbos home: London Heathrow Airport is still the world’s #1 airport for the veteran 747 with almost twice as many weekly departures as its rivals. But Heathow is only #3, after Dubai and Singapore, for A380 operations, the plane which could make the most of its incredibly hard-to-come-by slots.

With new aircraft such as the 787 now well established, and others such as the A350 and Bombardier C-Series coming soon, it is only natural that some aircraft types are gradually disappearing from the world’s airline passenger fleets. This winter will probably see the last scheduled passenger flights on MD11s as KLM retires its final aircraft, while SAS is phasing out its MD80s (though some of these will find a new home elsewhere).

With the Airbus A380 now the undisputed ‘king of the skies’ in terms of size, anna.aero was wondering what was happening with the world’s fleet of its predecessor, the Boeing 747. Although an updated version of the aircraft, the 747-8, is being manufactured and sold (to Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa), four-engined aircraft are not ideal when fuel prices are high – just ask the world’s operators of A340s. So at which airports are you most likely still to see 747s, and from which airports has the type disappeared in the last 12 months?

While Dubai is by far the leading airport for A380 operations (thanks to Emirates’ fleet of almost 40 of the type), well ahead of Singapore Changi, analysis of Innovata / Diio Mi schedule data for this month reveals that London Heathrow Airport is still the world’s #1 airport for 747 passenger operations, with almost 300 weekly departures, well ahead of its nearest rival Taipei Taoyuan Airport in Taiwan. Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi round out the top five, with San Francisco in 8th place the leading US airport.

Top airports for 747 passenger operations Top 12 as measured by weekly departures

Source: Diio Mi / Innovata for November 2013

Six of the top 12 airports for 747 operations have actually seen in increase in operations of the type during the last 12 months, with Seoul Gimpo (+47%), San Francisco (+17%) and Tokto Narita (+15%) seeing the biggest gains.

A comparison with November 2008 reveals that Heathrow was #1 then as well, ahead of Hong Kong and Tokyo Narita. Since last November the number of 747 flights has fallen globally by a relatively modest 4.9%, suggesting that the global 747 fleet still has many years of active service ahead of it. However, 15 airports that welcomed at least one weekly 747 service last November are now no longer receiving flights from this aircraft type. These include Colombo, Copenhagen, Perth and Stockholm Arlanda.




Wikipedia says, of the Boeing 747 family at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_747

In November 2005, Boeing announced it was launching the 747 Advanced as the Boeing 747-8.  The last 747-400s were completed in 2009. As of 2011, most orders of the 747-8 have been for the freighter variant. On February 8, 2010, the 747-8 Freighter made its maiden flight.  The first scheduled delivery of the 747-8 went t oCargolux in 2011. Eventually, the 747 may be replaced in Boeing’s lineup by a new design named “Y3“.

Wikipedia says of 747 deliveries and orders of 747s:

Year   Total2013201220112010200920082007
Orders   1525   07715225
Deliveries  147431908141616


Wikipedia says, of the Quota count system, in relation to the Boeing 747:


From 1962 until 1993, operations at Heathrow were subject to a simple limit on the number of aircraft movements that were allowed to take place during the night period.

In 1993 a new Quota Count system was introduced based on aircraft noise certification data. Each aircraft type is classified and awarded a quota count (QC) value depending on the amount of noise it generated under controlled certification conditions. The quieter the aircraft the smaller the QC value. Aircraft are classified separately for landing and take-off. Take-off quota count values are based on the average of the certificated flyover and sideline noise levels at maximum take-off weight, with 1.75 EPNdB added for Chapter 2 aircraft. Landing quota count values are based on the certificated approach noise level at maximum landing weight minus 9.0 EPNdB.

Aircraft were originally divided into six QC bands from 0.5 to 16, but following a review by the Department for Transport a seventh category – Quota Count 0.25 – was added in March 2007.

Noise ClassificationQuota Count
Below 84 EPNdBExempt
84 – 86.9 EPNdB0.25
87 – 89.9 EPNdB0.5
90 – 92.9 EPNdB1
93 – 95.9 EPNdB2
96 – 98.9 EPNdB4
99 – 101.9 EPNdB8
Greater than 101.9 EPNdB16

The quota count doubles with each increase of 3 dB which corresponds to an approximate doubling of noise power. However, due to the logarithmic nature of human aural perception, this 3 dB change is perceived as only a small change in the noise level.

Airports operating the system have a fixed quota for each of the summer and winter seasons. As each night-time aircraft movement takes place, an amount of this quota is used depending on the classification of the aircraft. For example, the Boeing 747-400 is classed as QC/2 on landing and QC/4 on takeoff, while the larger yet quieter Airbus A380 is rated QC/0.5 on landing and QC/2 on takeoff.

Each A380 therefore uses approximately 42% of the quota of a 747, while potentially carrying more passengers, thus providing airlines with an incentive to operate quieter types of aircraft.  Field measurements suggest the approach quota allocation for the A380 may be overly generous compared to the older Boeing 747. Rolls-Royce is supporting CAA in understanding the relatively high A380/Trent 900 monitored noise levels.

Some QC examples

Aircraft typeQC DepartureQC Arrival
Airbus A320 family0.5 – 10.25 – 0.5
Airbus A38020.5
Boeing 737 Classic0.25 – 0.51
Boeing 747-40042
Boeing 747-821[9]
Boeing 757-2000.50.25
Boeing 767-3001 – 21
Boeing 777-200ER21
Embraer 1450.250.25



There is a noise comparison study from Los Angeles in 2009 at http://www.lawa.org/uploadedfiles/lax/pdf/Noise%20Comparison%20B744%20vs.%20A380.pdf which shows sometimes a 5 dB difference in noise between the A380 and a 747 .However, there is other data indicating the A380 is sometimes little quieter in reality.