Virgin Atlantic’s replacement of its old 747-400’s with top of the range Dreamliners 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 Airways have also significantly increased their use of Boeing 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, the “chapter number” scores.
Early phase out of the noisiest planes is a key part of Heathrow’s Noise Blueprint. 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 Dreamliners.
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.”
Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Sustainability and Environment said:
“It’s encouraging to see the positive results of our engagement with airlines in these latest Fly Quiet results. Replacing aircraft with newer, quieter types is one of the best ways to reduce noise and that is why the progress shown in the latest league standings is so important.
The results today are part of a wider trend seen at Heathrow, as airlines continue to use their newest planes not only because of our fees and their responsibilities to our local neighbours, but also because our routes are so sought after and they want to offer passengers the best, and quietest aircraft experience available.”
Meigan Terry, Senior Vice President, External Affairs at Virgin Atlantic commented:
“We’re delighted to see our huge investment in quieter and more fuel efficient aircraft paying off for the local communities around Heathrow, as well as for our customers. Our thirteenth 787-9 aircraft entered service at the airport just last week. We expect to have seventeen of these aircraft operating by 2018, creating one of the youngest and quietest long-haul fleets in the world.”
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.
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.