Virgin Atlantic’s long haul fleet has jumped eight places in Heathrow’s Fly Quiet table, which lists airlines according to their noise performance.

The Fly Quiet table 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.

The third Fly Quiet league table1 covers January to March 2014. Airlines are still responding to their ratings with steady progress. There were no pre 0430 arrivals from the top 50 airlines, with Virgin Atlantic long haul improving both this and their track keeping, resulting in a jump 8 places from 14th to 6th position. Cathay Pacific has improved across all four main metrics, moving up another place from the previous quarter.

The top three airlines have remained the same since the table was first published. The number of airlines rated red for ‘Continuous Descent Approach’ has remained the same at nine, which shows there is more work to be done with these airlines on the importance of the landing approach technique. 49 out of 50 airlines achieved a high standard of track keeping (keeping within designated routes) and 48 of the 50 airlines are now using a fleet which is Chapter 4 compliant. Both metrics have improved by ten per cent from the previous quarter.

The Fly Quiet Programme forms part of Heathrow’s wider noise action plan to tackle aircraft noise. In accordance with this, an independent report commission to benchmark Heathrow’s ranking in airport operational noise management alongside other airports shows that Heathrow has risen from third to second place (compared to 2011), with Brussels in first place.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s Sustainability Director, said: ‘This table shows that airlines are still committed to reducing the number of people affected by noise, but there are still areas we can work with them on to improve performance. The benchmarking shows that these efforts are making a significant difference to Heathrow’s overall noise management compared to other international airports.”

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 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 www.heathrow.com/noise

‘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.