Cathay Pacific celebrates improved noise performance

Environmental Noise

The airline has jumped 12 places from 24 in Heathrow’s Fly Quiet table, which lists airlines according to their noise performance.

Cathay Pacific CelebratesThe Fly Quiet table, which launched in November last year, lists the top 50 Heathrow airlines every three months (by number of flights per quarter) according to six noise related criteria. The airlines receive a red/amber/green rating for each criterion, as well as an overall score which allows them to understand how they are performing in relation to other airlines. If they are not meeting the minimum performance targets, Heathrow works closely with them to improve their rating. 

This is the second Fly Quiet league table1 and covers October to December 2013. It shows airlines are responding positively to their ratings, with Cathay Pacific in particular working with Heathrow to improve their performance. In the last three months the airline has improved its track keeping and continued to replace its 747s with quieter, cleaner 777 aircraft, leading to a rise of 12 places in the table. Thai Airways improved their score by six places by replacing their 747 aircraft with an A346 and improving their track keeping.

A Cathay Pacific spokesperson said: “We are pleased to see that our on-going and significant investment in newer and more environmentally friendly aircraft as part of our wider commitment to sustainability is paying dividends, particularly at London Heathrow, where environmental issues remain key. Our deployment of an all-777-300ER passenger fleet on the route, with five Cathay Pacific flights daily to and from Hong Kong, not only offers our passengers greater frequency, convenience and comfort, but has also a notable reduction in our impact on Heathrow’s local community.”

Within ten days of publication of the last table, South African Airways had contacted the Heathrow team to help them successfully trial a new track keeping procedure in their simulator, tested it and incorporated it into their Standard Operating Procedures which will contribute to future improvements within the table.

These results show the Fly Quiet programme has already has a positive impact on noise, encouraging airlines to use the quietest aircraft available and to fly them in the quietest possible way. This measure, along with variable landing charges, incentivises airlines use their quietest aircraft around 15% more on Heathrow routes.Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s Sustainability Director, said: ‘This table shows that airlines are committed to reducing the number of people affected by noise and want to work with us to improve their performance. The Fly Quiet programme is part of our firm commitment to being transparent about aircraft noise and is already helping us make progress in reducing its impact on local communities.'

By publishing the table each quarter, Heathrow aims to recognise good performance, provide airlines with regular feedback, identify more specific areas to be targeted for improvement, establish minimum performance targets and provide further insight into airline performance.

The top three airlines have remained the same since the previous table was published in November. The number of airlines rated red for ‘Continuous Descent Approach’ has increased from three to nine, which shows there is more work to be done with these airlines on the importance of this landing approach technique. 48 out of 50 airlines achieved a high standard of track keeping (keeping within designated routes) demonstrating the high standards of performance at Heathrow. 47 of the 50 airlines are now using a fleet which is Chapter 4 compliant and 80% of airlines achieved adherence to the pre-04:30 arrivals measurement. Heathrow recognises that early morning flights cause particular disruption to local residents and will continue to work with airlines to focus on this important category.

The Fly Quiet programme follows the publication of ‘A quieter Heathrow’, a report which sets out the steps Heathrow takes to reduce aircraft noise. It lists the actions across five key areas that Heathrow takes to reduce aircraft noise while safeguarding the connectivity and growth that Heathrow currently provides: encouraging quieter planes; implementing quieter operating procedures; noise mitigation schemes and influencing land-use planning; applying operating restrictions and working with local communities. To read the full report, visit

‘A quieter Heathrow’ in turn follows a report published last year by Sustainable Aviation which set out the industry’s plans for reducing aircraft noise in the UK. The ‘Sustainable Aviation Noise Road-Map’ demonstrates that quieter aircraft, the implementation of better operating procedures and improved land-use planning mean that noise from UK aviation will not increase despite more flights over the next 40 years.*

* Sustainable Aviation, Sustainable Aviation Noise Road-map, 2013

Cathay Pacific Noise Performance Table