Consultancy AvGen finds, yet again, Heathrow’s “Fly Quiet & Green” programme comes up with weird, incorrect, results

Heathrow has published the results from its Fly Quiet & Green programme for 2018 Quarter 1.  Unfortunately it seems determined to persist with the flaky arithmetic and absence of logic and common sense that characterised the results for previous quarters (which remain unaltered). For Q1, as with previous quarters, league table scores have again been inflated, this time by an average of around 44% compared to the results that are produced when Heathrow’s own published methodology and performance rankings are used.  Once again that increase has not been applied uniformly across all 50 airlines (a number of them have been awarded more than double the number of points that they merit), with the result that the relative league table positions are significantly altered. Below are some examples, from consultancy, AvGen, showing the arbitrary results – which do not appear to be based on much logic – of airlines being put into higher and lower rankings, based on their noise and emissions. By contrast with the Heathrow figures, those from AvGen show the greenest airline is Aer Lingus – not Scandinavian. The second greenest is Finnair, not LOT Polish Airlines. Curious that Heathrow does such odd things with the data ….

With the Heathrow scoring system on noise, the higher the score, the “greener” the airline supposedly is (N.B. “greener” covers CO2 and NOx emissions as well, not just noise).

Why do Heathrow inflate all the scores?  AvGen says this is presumably to make airlines, overall, look better than their performance actually merits.

Why do they favour/penalise particular airlines?  It is unclear.  There was discussion about this from September 2017 at the Heathrow Community Noise Forum meeting. See

This gives the comment of someone who attended this meeting:

“My impression of the discussion [about the Fly Quite & Clean programme] at HCNF was that Heathrow made no attempt to defend their methodology and answer any detailed criticisms from AvGen – but rather just stated that their purpose with FlyQuiet was to promote active engagement with airlines to improve their practices and they were comfortable with how they were doing it.

“It left me with the impression that they could well manipulate the figures to pick off particular airlines when they felt it appropriate to do so and reward others in a somewhat arbitrary process. They say they have responded to AvGen – it would interesting to see what they said and hear their views on the rigour and impartiality of the process.”

(For the record, Heathrow have never entered into any meaningful discussion with AvGen regarding the variation between their findings and those of Heathrow.)

AvGen suggests that, to really show up the Heathrow system, people should challenge the airport to identify how many points, from the total number awarded to each airline, relate to the Track-keeping metric.  There is no way they can answer that question without exposing their flawed calculations.

The two sets of rankings – Heathrow’s and AvGen’s

Some details taken from a larger table from AvGen, showing the different rankings by Heathrow, compared by those obtained by AvGen.

Among the many anomalies in the Q1 results are:

a   First placed airline Aer Lingus, with 834 points, is arbitrarily demoted to the Number 3 slot in the table, while 3rd placed Scandinavian is bizarrely awarded the Number One position.

b   Lufthansa and Austrian are given an unjustified hike up the table (by 10 places each).

c   Air Malta and South African, whose performance qualifies them for joint 19th place with 583 points each are inexplicably awarded 13th and 27th place respectively and separated by 86 points (see attached worked example).

d   Other airlines entitled to feel aggrieved with this quarter’s published results include China Southern (yet again), though this time they are only relegated 11 places from their rightful position compared to 20 in the last quarter, together with Aeroflot and Alitalia (both demoted by 10 positions).

e   “RAG” (red/amber/green) classifications are again applied inconsistently;  for example Qantas and El Al, ranked 44th and 45th respectively by Heathrow for early/late movements, get an “Amber” for that category while BA Longhaul, ranked 38th for that metric by Heathrow, gets a “Red”.

f    Heathrow’s results, which aim to compare the “top 50” airlines (defined by number of flights in Q1) completely omit Vueling and Japan Airlines, while Korean, PIA and Kuwait (all with far fewer flights) are included.

Attached is AvGen’s detailed audit of the Q1 results, contrasting Heathrow’s scores and league table placings with those calculated by AvGen using Heathrow’s own published methodology and metric performance rankings.  We have copied these to Heathrow.

Also attached is AvGen’s HEMMS (Heathrow Environmental Metric Monitoring System) report for 2018 Q1, showing the airlines’ relative rankings for each of the 7 metrics and the corrected Fly Quiet & Green points values.

Dave Reid
AvGen Limited
Reading, UK


The good, the bad and the noisy: Heathrow reveals its greenest and quietest airlines


International Airport Review

The latest league table rated the performance of the top 50 busiest airlines on seven noise and emission metrics from January to March 2018.

London Heathrow Airport has published a list ranking its airlines by their green and conscientious practices for the first quarter of the year.

LOT Polish Airlines proved to be the success story of Heathrow’s Fly Quiet and Green Programme, having completely transformed its noise and emissions performance – from last place in the first league rankings in 2013 to second place in the latest results. Scandinavian Airlines leapt into the top spot from fifth in the last quarter. Aer Lingus came in third, Etihad in fourth and Flybe was the new fifth place. British Airways short haul came in sixth.

Down at the bottom end of the table, Egypt Air short haul came last with the lowest score in noise quota per seat, chapter number and track keeping violations. It replaced Kuwait Airlines which has now risen to second last, beneath Turkish Airlines short haul and Israels El Al.


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Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s Director of Sustainability said: “As the first initiative of its kind in Europe, it was hard to estimate the impact the ‘Fly Quiet and Green’ league table would have when it was first launched.  LOT Polish Airline’s story, however, shows the results that can be achieved by working productively with our airline partners to encourage them to use quieter technology and operating procedures for the benefit of our local neighbours.

“We know there is always more we can do to reduce our noise impacts, and we have set some ambitious targets in our new Noise Action Plan. We encourage all of our local neighbours to give us their feedback on this plan, and help us shape the way we manage noise in the future.”

The seven metrics were:

  • Noise quota per seat – 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 (BestBritish Airways short haul, WorstEgypt Airshort haul)
  • Chapter number (noise certification) – each individual aircraft’s noise certificate against ICAO’s standards or ‘Chapters’ (BestFlyBeWorst: Egypt Air)
  • NOx emissions per seat (BestBritish Airways short haul, Worst:Korean Air)
  • CAEP standard (engine emissions certification) – each engine’s emissions against engine against the emissions standards produced and published by the ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (Best: Qantas Airways/Air India/FlybeWorstBritish Airways long haul)
  • Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) violations – CDA involves arriving aircraft maintaining a steady angle of approach during the descent towards the airport, as opposed to a stepped approach which involves periods of prolonged level flight (BestDelta AirlinesWorstPakistan International Airlines)
  • Track keeping (TK) violations – the number of times aircraft deviated from the corridors of ‘noise preferential routes’ (NPRs) – 3km-wide corridors in the sky, designated by the Government to route aircraft away from more densely populated areas as far as possible – until they reach 4000ft above mean sea level (BestAlitalia/TAP Portugal/Finnair/Aer LingusWorstEgypt Air)
  • Early or late movements between 23:30 and 04:30 (Best: many airlines didn’t run flights between these hours at all, WorstMalaysia Airlines)