Which is the noisiest?

By | Category: Travel news

a Boeing 747 in United Airlines colours

The report published yesterday by Heathrow Airport into which are the noisiest planes is useful not just for those living near that airport but at any airport because it gives a guide as to which planes might or should be given landing rights. And Heathrow has been quite scientific in how it approaches this.

There are criteria used and I’m going to explain those before I mention which planes and which airlines are the noisiest.

The first is called Noise quota count/seat/movement. This scores the noise efficiency of an operator’s fleet, recognising that whilst larger aircraft tend to be noisier they also carry more passengers. The second is Noise Certification – each aircraft is required to have a noise certificate which can be used to determine its relative performance against ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) noise performance targets.

The third is Continuous Descent Approach (CDA violations) which is where airlines should maintain a steady angle of approach which should reduce the noise levels. The fourth is TK violations. Aircraft are required to stay within ‘noise preferential– 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. Where aircraft move outside this track penalties are applied unless it is outside the control of the aircraft in which case no violation will be credited against the airline.

Finally there is a policy of adherence to punctuality and whether planes land outside the agreed landing times such as at 5am, annoying residents.

It’s not perfect but what is? As you can see, it’s been quite carefully thought out and couldn’t be considered a PR stunt as suggested by some.

Amongst planes the old Jumbo – the Boeing 747 – is very noisy; new planes are quieter. In terms of airlines then, those operating older aircraft will be noisier than those with young fleets. The noisiest is LOT, the Polish airline, followed by El Al and Thai Airways. The quietest is British Airways but only if you take the short haul fleet and split it from the long haul fleet because BA still has some Jumbos. Then comes Virgin Atlantic’s domestic service as apposed to its long haul services to US or Caribbean destinations. Aer Lingus is next and then a surprise – American Airlines. This airline has no 747’s, preferring Boeing 777’s but even then, these can be up to 18 years old. It is still a much quieter plane regardless of age compared to the jumbo.

Each quarter, Heathrow will announce the results They will be a better guide than many suggested as to whether airlines are genuinely trying to get quieter planes and respect the noise limits to which all have agreed.

For those interested in the full details of the study, click here.

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