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

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

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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.

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 (Best: British Airways short haul, Worst: Egypt Air short haul)
  • Chapter number (noise certification) – each individual aircraft’s noise certificate against ICAO’s standards or ‘Chapters’ (Best: FlyBe, Worst: Egypt Air)
  • NOx emissions per seat (Best: British 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/Flybe, Worst: British 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 (Best: Delta Airlines, Worst: Pakistan 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 (Best: Alitalia/TAP Portugal/Finnair/Aer Lingus, Worst: Egypt Air)
  • Early or late movements between 23:30 and 04:30 (Best: many airlines didn’t run flights between these hours at all, Worst: Malaysia Airlines)

6 responses to “The good, the bad and the noisy: Heathrow reveals its greenest and quietest airlines”

  1. Roberto says:

    This rating system is excellent, though belated. Noise awareness seems to be given more attention little by little.
    Not one American airline was mentioned in the article above. This is a wake-up call for Americans in an increasingly noisy Trump regime.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    LOT Polish Airlines can’t possibly have achieved 938 points out of 1,000 as claimed by Heathrow!

    They performed worse than most of the other airlines on one of the most highly-weighted measures (in 30th place out of 50 for track-keeping), so they should have had 159 points deducted for that metric alone, according to Heathrow’s published scoring system at Then LOT only just scraped into the top half of the rankings for two other measures (noise quota count and NOx emissions), losing another 84 points as a consequence.

    You don’t need to be a maths genius to see that subtracting 243 points from 1,000 can’t give a result of 938!

    It’s worth noting also that two of Heathrow’s 50 busiest airlines, Vueling and Japan Airlines, have been omitted from the table even though airlines with far fewer flights like Korean and PIA are included.

    Roberto: re US carriers – United, Delta and American all performed reasonably well, coming in 6th, 8th and 13th respectively.

  3. Giorgio says:

    Dave something is wrong with your Math buddy 🙂

  4. Dave Reid says:

    Hi Giorgio. First of all it’s Maths, not Math (IAR is a British publication).

    Secondly, regardless of how you spell it, if you think my Maths is wrong then help me out and show me where, instead of just making an unsubstantiated assertion.

    Please don’t be put off by the fact that I taught Maths for several years. I promise I’ll be gentle with you.

  5. marijn says:

    If it is Maths, you should say “my maths are wrong”, not ‘is’.

  6. Fawzy says:

    How did you Calculate that EgyptAir worst in Noise Certificate?? EgyptAir fleet consists of B777 and B737 ICAO Chapter 4. Most of modern Aircrafts are Chapter 4 now days, so how did you rate it?

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