Heathrow airport has announced that it will increase penalties on the noisiest aircraft as well as ranking airlines overall for how quiet their aircraft are.
Management at Britain’s busiest airport claim that their program for a quieter Heathrow is all about being a better neighbour and unrelated to their attempts to have a 3rd runway approved.
The airport already levies penalties on noisy aircraft but wants to further increase these to a maximum of £1000 per flight for the worst offenders. As a general rule-of-thumb, the older the aircraft, the noisier it is. Accordingly, British Airways, by far the largest airline at Heathrow, and with an above average age for its fleet, is likely to take a hit. The airline is the world’s largest operator of the 747 and also has a significant number of 767s. Many of these aircraft are more than 10 years old and will almost certainly be classified as ‘noisy’.
British Airways does have an ambitious fleet renewal plan in place which will see its older aircraft replaced by newer, quieter models such as the A380, 787 & A350. However, such renewals don’t occur overnight so British Airways is likely to still be operating a fair number of 747s & 767s in 5 years time. Like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic also operates an ageing fleet although it has finally begun the process of replacing its noisy A340s witn new A330 aircraft.
Unfortunately for both British Airways & Virgin Atlantic, many of their competitors operate much younger aircraft and nowhere is this more apparent than with the Gulf carriers such as Emirates, Qatar Airways & Etihad who seem intent on buying up anything that Boeing & Airbus can offer.
As well as penalising the noisiest aircraft and ranking airlines, Heathrow have also released plans that involve aircraft landing at steeper angles and trialing new departure routes.
Speaking about their plans, the airport’s chief executive commented: “Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise and as a result, even though the number of flights has almost doubled since the 1970s, fewer people are affected by noise. We will continue to work with airlines, Nats, policy makers and local communities to further reduce aircraft noise while safeguarding the vital connectivity and economic growth that Heathrow provides.”