Half of Heathrow’s busiest airlines miss landing noise reduction targets
Heathrow’s own figures show that 25 of the busiest 50 airlines at Heathrow are missing landing noise targets. John Holland-Kaye said he has written to the airlines, to warn them amid continued problems with noise. Landing noise test scores were revealed by Heathrow in a ‘Fly Quiet’ table after monitoring between July and September this year. Airlines receive a red, amber or green rating for six noise-related categories, with green indicating the quietest performance and red the noisiest. Among the categories measured is the continuous descent approach (CDA), by which planes maintain a steady angle of approach (3 degrees) when landing, rather than descending in stages. CDA cuts fuel use and reduces noise compared to long periods of level flight because it requires less engine thrust and can keep aircraft higher for longer. But half Heathrow’s airlines missed out on green CDA scores between July and September which is 5 less than in the preceding 3 months. Heathrow is hoping to cut noise from approaches a bit, by summer 2015, to try to persuade people a 3rd runway would be tolerable. The report ranks airlines by their noise performance.
Table showing ranking of airlines at “Fly Quiet Q3” table [Fly Quiet is an oxymoron].
Half of Heathrow’s busiest airlines miss landing noise reduction targets
By Robin de Peyer (Evening Standard)
Half of the busiest 50 airlines at Heathrow are missing landing noise targets, the airport revealed today.
Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye said he has written to the carriers to warn them amid continued problems with noise pollution.
Landing noise test scores were revealed by the airport in a ‘Fly Quiet’ table after monitoring between July and September this year.
Airlines receive a red, amber or green rating for six noise-related categories, with green indicating the quietest performance and red the noisiest.
Among the categories measured is the continuous descent approach (CDA), which sees planes maintain a steady angle of approach when landing.
The method reduces noise compared to long periods of level flight because it requires less engine thrust and keeps aircraft higher for longer.
But Heathrow’s study found 25 out of the 50 main airlines missed out on green CDA scores between July and September. That figure marks an increase by five from a study for the previous three months.
The airport said in a statement: “Improvements in quiet approaches is a vital part of Heathrow’s new blueprint for noise reduction, which outlines 10 steps to reduce noise impacts from the airport by summer 2015.”
Heathrow also said that while all airlines had adhered to night-time operation limits in April-June 2014, there had been three unscheduled arrivals by airlines before 6am in July-September 2014.
The “noisiest” carrier was Israel’s El Al in 50th place. Polish airline LOT was in 49th place, Middle East Airlines 48th, Thai Airways 47th and Aeroflot short-haul 46th.
The top five in the latest table had also been in the same positions in the table for April-June 2014.
British Airways was revealed as the least noisy for short haul flights. Aer Lingus was second quietest, Virgin Atlantic’s domestic service Little Red third, Virgin Atlantic’s international services fourth and American Airlines fifth.
Heathrow’s sustainability director Matt Gorman said: “We believe it is only by working proactively with our partners that Heathrow airport can be a better, quieter neighbour to local residents.”
Heathrow’s Noise Action Plan 2010 – 2015 (Dec 2010) states:
Departure noise limits
Fixed noise monitors at the airport are located at approximately 6.5km from start-of-roll (SOR). This corresponds to the flyover measurement point in the ICAO Annex 16 noise certification procedure. There are 10 fixed monitors around Heathrow. The location of the monitors takes account of the noise preferential routes.
There are noise limits applied at these fixed noise monitors for departing aircraft. During the night quota period (2330-0600) the departure noise limit is 87dBALmax. During the remainder of the night period (2300-2330 and 0600-0700) the noise limit is 89dBALmax. These night time limits are consistent with the night restrictions regime. There is also a daytime noise limit of 94dBALmax. We work with individual airlines towards minimising
the number of noise infringements (See Annex 5).
The location and distance of the fixed noise monitors were decided in the early 1990’s after consultation. Relating the noise limits to a reference distance 6.5 km from start-of-roll encourages aircraft operators to gain height as quickly as possible and then reduce engine power and noise at the earliest opportunity. There is also a requirement for departing aircraft to attain at least a 1000 feet (see “1000ft rule”) altitude when passing the
fixed noise monitors.
We fine airlines (currently £500 or £1000 depending on the level of exceedance) whose aircraft breach the noise limits, with the money donated to local community projects through a large grants scheme.
Arrivals noise limits
There are no arrivals noise limits. A report which considered the feasibility of setting noise limits for arriving aircraft, ‘Noise from Arriving Aircraft: Final Report of the ANMAC Technical Working Group,’ was published in 1999. In light of the findings, the then Aviation Minister, decided against imposing operational noise limits for arriving aircraft. A code of practice has been developed (described above) for arrivals.
Heathrow’s press release below
British Airways’ Short Haul Fleet Top Performer in Latest Fly Quiet League Table
Airline continues to place first in Heathrow’s Fly Quiet table, which lists airlines according to how quiet their operations are.
Covering July to September 2014, the fifth 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. The top five performers – British Airways’ short haul fleet, Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic Little Red, Virgin Atlantic Airways, American Airlines – have remained the same over the past two league tables, highlighting these airlines’ consistently good noise performance at the airport.
This quarter revealed the improved performance of Austrian Airlines, which jumped the most places ahead, compared to other operators at the airport.
Thai Airlines succeeded in reducing the noise footprint of its fleet by opting to operate quieter, newer aircraft this quarter. This resulted in the airline lowering its QC/Seat score, and improving its chapter number scores.
This quarter, airlines rating amber and red increased by five compared to the last quarter in their use of the ‘Continuous Descent Approach’ (CDA). While at the moment, over 85% of daytime and over 90% of night-time arrivals at Heathrow achieve a CDA, the scores in this quarter make it clear some airlines need to improve their use of this quiet landing technique.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye has written to those airlines failing to meet Heathrow’s CDA standards, asking for engagement from their technical teams with the airport to increase CDA adherence. Improvements in quiet approaches is a vital part of Heathrow’s new blueprint for noise reduction, which outlines ten steps to reduce noise impacts from the airport by summer 2015.
Contrary to the last quarter, in which all airlines adhered to night time operation limits, this quarter there were three unscheduled arrivals by airlines before 06:00 am.
Heathrow commends the airlines that have contributed to improving the noise environment around the airport, and will work closely with those airlines that did not meet the minimum performance targets this quarter to improve their rating.
Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s Director of Sustainability says:
“Since the inception of the Fly Quiet League, we have been able to rely on the continued good performance of the airlines who consistently dominate the top ranks of the table. However, we also want to highlight and encourage those that have made an improvement to the way they operate, and will help them to continue this trend. We believe it is only by working proactively with our partners that Heathrow airport can be a better, quieter neighbour to local residents.”
The Fly Quiet Programme forms part of Heathrow’s wider noise action plan to tackle aircraft noise. On average, due to Heathrow’s mix of strict operating restrictions and noise– reducing incentives, aircraft that airlines use at Heathrow are on average around 15% quieter than the global fleet of those airlines.
Notes to editors
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.
• 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.