Airbus, British Airways (BA), Heathrow Airport (LHR) and NATS (the main air navigation service provider in the United Kingdom) have launched a unique partnership to study and develop operational procedures to reduce the number of people affected by noise around London’s Heathrow. The study will use British Airways’ A380. The A380 is recognized as one of the quietest aircraft today.
This project utilities the capabilities of the A380, the quietest aircraft of its size, and looks at how the aircraft manufacturer, airline, airport and air navigation services provider can further reduce the noise impact of flight operations for local communities. Airbus ProSky, the Air Traffic Management (ATM) subsidiary of Airbus is in charge of designing the departure and arrival procedures based on NATS, LHR and BA recommendations.
The four cross-industry partners have announced a three-stage ‘Quieter Flight’ project.
- The first stage identifies the operational improvements that are possible. These include for departures for example, reducing thrust and optimizing the height at which the aircraft is flown. Changes to these departure procedures have the potential to significantly reduce noise levels.
- The second stage will see the testing and training of procedures in a British Airways flight simulator.
- Once all the project stages are complete, the partners expect to bring all the operational improvements together into a series of demonstration flights with the A380, starting from early next year. These procedures will then be made available to other operators and airports around the world.
Airbus’ executive Vice President, Customer affairs, Christopher Buckley said: “the A380 is the ideal aircraft to conduct the “Quieter flights” because it has the latest state of the art technologies that allow optimized paths to be flown very precisely. The A380 is able to further reduce the noise of what is already the quietest aircraft of its type. Together with Airbus ProSky, we are honored to be a key player in this unique industry project that addresses a real issue worldwide.
British Airways’ environment strategy manager, Captain Dean Plumb said: “The A380 is the ideal aircraft for this project as it has unique operational capabilities that can be adjusted to reduce noise during take-off and landing. The next step for the Quieter Flight Partnership is to train our pilots to use the optimized noise procedures in the simulator and then to test these improvements in flight trials.”
Matt Gorman, Sustainability Director for Heathrow said “We are really pleased to be working closely with industry partners on this project. Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise and collaborations such as this form part of our long term commitment to do this whilst also safeguarding the connectivity and growth that Heathrow provides.”
Ian Jopson, NATS Head of Environmental and Community Affairs, added: “Air traffic management has a vital role to play in tackling the impact of aircraft noise and NATS has an excellent track record of working with the rest of the aviation industry and community groups on this important issue. The Quieter Flight project, brings together the expertise of the whole industry, and when combined with the wide range of other initiatives we are working on, will help make a difference to those people living under the flightpath.”