Second year of Fly Quiet League at Heathrow shows planes are getting quieter


By Heathrow

Published 17th December 2015

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The Heathrow Fly Quiet League has celebrated its second year with some big results in encouraging airlines to use newer aircraft and reduce noise.


  • League table shows increasing use of quiet flight procedure “Continuous Descent Approach” by airlines at Heathrow

  • Heathrow’s technical teams have coordinated with LOT to transform their quieter arrivals performance

  • Finnair modifies their A-321 fleet at Heathrow with quieter technology

  • Top quiet performers are amongst biggest airlines operating at Heathrow

Heathrow’s Fly Quiet League, the UK’s only ranking of airlines according to their noise performance, along with Heathrow’s tough limits and restrictions on noise, are successfully encouraging airlines to use their newest fleets at the airport and operate them in quieter ways. The news comes as the League marks its second year anniversary.

LOT leads the way in Continous Descent Approach improvement

In the last two years, Fly Quiet League rankings have shown a clear upward trend in airlines’ use of the quiet flight procedure “Continuous Descent Approach” (CDA).  This arrival procedure requires less engine thrust and keeps the aircraft higher for longer, helping to reduce noise. Since the launch of the Fly Quiet League, Polish operator LOT has almost doubled its use of CDA to 98 per cent.

From July to September this year, 258 out of 263 LOT arrivals used this quieter approach into Heathrow. This dramatic improvement is due in large part to Heathrow’s collaborative approach to working with its airlines to encourage them to reduce their impacts on local communities.

The Fly Quiet League has also shown that the aircraft used at the airport over the course of two years are on average, newer and quieter. As a case in point, the latest results from July to September show Finnair’s technological modifications and recertification of its A-321 fleet have made these aircraft quieter and improved the airline’s score this quarter.

The first large European airport to be free of the noisiest aircraft

Heathrow plans to become the first large European airport to be free of the oldest and noisiest classification of aircraft – known internationally as ‘Chapter 3’. To encourage this, airlines at Heathrow are required to pay ten times more to fly ‘Chapter 3’ aircraft into the airport than they pay for the quietest, best in class planes.

The quietest three airlines in the latest rankings include two of the biggest operators at Heathrow – British Airways’ short haul operation and Aer Lingus.

Heathrow Airport, airfield windsock, aircraft on stand at Terminal 5B (satellite one) in background, August 2010.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s Director of Environment and Sustainability said, “The Fly Quiet League table is a simple and effective way to demonstrate Heathrow’s best performing airlines in terms of noise performance and to encourage best practice amongst them.”

“The fantastic results over the past two years are proof that airlines are willing to work with us and improve their noise performance.As the airport operator we have committed to take the industry lead to reduce the impacts of Heathrow’s operations on our neighbours.

“If Heathrow were to expand, we have the potential to make further significant improvements, so that fewer people will be impacted by noise than today.”

Expansion plans to see fewer people affected by noise than today

Heathrow’s expansion plans have been designed so that a bigger airport could affect fewer people by noise than today.

This can be achieved due to a combination of quieter aircraft technology and procedures, maintaining the principle of runway alternation, and the opportunity to alternate flight paths on departure as well as arrivals, something that isn’t possible today.

Heathrow has also proposed to offer a world-class noise insulation programme worth more than £700 million, should the airport be allowed to expand.

The full table:

Read more about the Fly Quiet League, here.

After nine years and three terms as Chairman of Heathrow, Sir Nigel Rudd will be stepping down from his role in September 2016 in line with standard Board practice.

During his tenure, Heathrow has gone through significant change with Sir Nigel doing an outstanding job of guiding and advising the Heathrow Board – including on matters such as the sale of airports and a regrouping of the company to focus solely on Heathrow, the UK’s hub airport and Europe’s largest.

Overseeing £11bn of investment in the iarport

Under Sir Nigel’s leadership, Heathrow has become a focussed, high-quality business with a stable financial position and strong operational performance. His time on the Board was capped by last year’s successful opening of Terminal 2: The Queen’s Terminal, marking the conclusion of an £11 billion investment programme which transformed Heathrow into the best hub airport in Europe.

Preparations are underway for the appointment of a new Chairperson who will take forward the airport’s expansion plans and help Heathrow achieve its ambition of giving passengers the best airport service in the world. To ensure a smooth transition, Sir Nigel will remain in post until this work is completed in the second half of 2016.

“I’m really proud to have played a role in re-establishing Heathrow as a national asset for the UK. I’ve seen first-hand just how much of an economic engine Heathrow is for all parts of our great trading nation. That’s why it’s so important that Government lives up to its “open for business” mandate and expands Heathrow,” Sir Nigel Rudd said.

“We can keep Britain at the heart of the global economy and I will continue to actively make the case for a bigger and better Heathrow.”

“It has been an honour and great pleasure to work with Sir Nigel and I will miss his sound advice, unerring support and good humour. We are starting the process of finding a replacement for Sir Nigel and Heathrow thanks him for the tremendous work he has done for our company over the past decade.” Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye

What is the most population destination for passengers flying from Heathrow at Christmas? How many thousands of Toblerones will be sold? What is the most popular day for Christmas gift buying?

We’ve taken a look at all these questions and more in our new infographic “The Flight before Christmas…” which reveals some of the surprising numbers behind Christmas shopping at Heathrow!

We’d like to wish all of our passengers a very merry Christmas! Be sure to tweet us when you’re travelling through this Christmas via @HeathrowAirport and share your festive Instragram images with us via @Heathrow_Airport!Like this article? Make sure you check out our behind the scenes video on how our decorations and Christmas Trees are brought to life in the terminals, here. 

Santa and his elves aren’t the only ones who have been busy this Christmas! We’ve been busy decorating Heathrow to add some festive cheer to our passengers journey. Watch how our decorations are brought to life in terminal!

We’d like to wish all of our passengers a very merry Christmas! Be sure to tweet us when you’re travelling through this Christmas via @HeathrowAirport and share your festive Instragram images with us via @Heathrow_Airport!


By Heathrow

Published 15th December 2015