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Aircraft noise: quieter planes pay less to land here

Responsible Heathrow case study

Local communities often feel strongly about the disturbance to their lives caused by airport noise. We agree - that's why we are making noisier aircraft pay more to land here.

Planes make most noise during take-off and landing, because of air passing over the body and wings and through engines at high speed. Taxiing on airport runways and engine testing are other sources of aircraft noise. The amount of noise a plane makes depends primarily on its size and age but also how it is flown.

Older planes tend to be noisier. That's because the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is setting progressively stricter standards for noise from civil aircraft, to reduce the impact that airports such as Heathrow have on local communities. So, a plane manufactured after 2006 is at least 10 decibels quieter than a similar, older model.

Every airline pays a base fee for each of its planes that lands at Heathrow. As an incentive for airlines to fly more modern, quieter planes, we charge the noisiest planes up to three times the base fee, while giving the quietest planes a 15% discount.

This is just one of the things we are doing to be a better neighbour. There's no way to make an airport entirely free from local impacts, but we are working to make Heathrow as quiet as we can. Our aim is for 97% of planes passing through Heathrow to be in the quietest ICAO category by 2015.

Heathrow’s Sustainable Mobility Zone in partnership with Guardian Sustainable Business