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Fly Quiet and Clean

The Fly Quiet and Clean programme is one of the steps Heathrow is taking to reduce aircraft noise.

Heathrow has some of the world’s toughest rules and regulations on noise which has played a major role in driving developments in quieter aircraft technology. Limits and restrictions in force at Heathrow, and in particular those that apply to flights at night, promote the use of ‘best in class’ aircraft. Heathrow also provides financial incentives for airlines to use the quietest aircraft through variable landing charges. Together these have contributed to more of the quietest planes being used at Heathrow – on average the aircraft used by airlines are 15 per cent quieter than the total global fleets of those airlines.

Since the 1970s these improvements in technology means there has been a tenfold decrease in the number of people within Heathrow’s noise footprint, despite the doubling of aircraft numbers over the same period. This fall in population has continued in recent years even while flight numbers have remained steady thanks to the newest generation of aircraft like the A380 entering service.

Managing the impact of aircraft noise for local communities is not just about improving technology. How and where aircraft are flown are other important factors for reducing the impact of noise. Airlines, airports and air traffic controllers employ a number of procedures to limit noise in this way and Heathrow has been at the forefront of promoting the use of these.

The Fly Quiet and Clean programme is intended to further encourage airlines to use quieter aircraft and to fly them in the quietest possible way. The programme includes the UK's first ever league table which ranks airlines according to their noise performance.

The league table

The 50 busiest airlines at Heathrow will now be publicly ranked on their work to reduce emissions and noise in their operations. Every three months, Heathrow will publish its new Fly Quiet and Clean League Table showing a red/amber/green rating for seven noise and emissions criteria.

The new league table is an expanded version of the successful Heathrow Fly Quiet programme, which has tracked airlines’ noise performance since 2013 and incentivised airlines to use their quieter aircraft types and operating procedures at the airport. It adds two emissions-based criteria which scores the type of engines used by aircraft (the ‘CAEP’ score) and the efficiencies of aircraft when it comes to NOx emissions per seat (the ‘NOx/seat’ score).

As part of the airport’s efforts to reduce the number of aircraft operating at night, and to provide more predictable periods of noise respite for local residents, the new table also includes a new metric tracking unscheduled airline operations between 11:30 at night and 4:30 in the morning.

The Fly Quiet and Clean Table is part of Heathrow 2.0, the airport’s new sustainability strategy, which aims to make Heathrow the world leader in delivering the cleanest aircraft and operations possible, targeting emissions in several ways:

  • On arrivals: by linking our landing fees to an aircraft’s NOx emissions. In 2017 we increased this fee by nearly 100%.
  • On the airfield: by encouraging airlines to use reduced-engine taxiing.
  • At gates: through £20-million-pound investment in technology like pre-conditioned air so aircraft can turn their engines off. This year, we are aiming to increase the use of this technology by 20% compared to 2016.

By publishing the table each quarter, Heathrow aims to recognise good performance, provide airlines with regular feedback, and identify specific areas to be targeted for improvement. Heathrow will engage with airlines showing red results in the latest league table to improve their rating.

Information on the Fly Quiet and Clean programme, along with the current table and previous rankings can be found here: