British Airways A380 to feature in cross-industry initiative to study noise reduction procedures at Heathrow
(photo: British Airways)
Mon 21 July 2014 – Airbus, British Airways, Heathrow Airport and UK air navigation service provider NATS are to collaborate on an initiative to study and develop new operational procedures to reduce the number of people affected by aircraft noise around Heathrow. Using a British Airways Airbus A380, Airbus ProSky – the air traffic management subsidiary of Airbus – will design departure and arrival procedures based on recommendations from BA, NATS and the airport. Airbus EVP Customer Affairs Christopher Buckley said the A380 was the ideal aircraft to conduct the ‘Quieter Flights’ study as it had the latest state-of-the-art technologies that allowed optimised paths to be flown very precisely. Results of the project will be shared with the rest of the industry, including other airlines and airports, and Airbus engineers will later work on adapting the same changes to the rest of the Airbus fleet.
The first part of a three-stage project will identify the operational improvements that are possible. Reducing thrust and optimising the height at which the aircraft is flown, for example, can potentially reduce noise levels significantly.
“So under the departure path, we are able to reduce noise by using new capability on the A380 that we haven’t had before,” explained Captain Dean Plumb, Environmental Strategy Manager, British Airways. “For the first time, we are able to define the precise position that coincides with the most noise sensitive location on departure. That will allow us to make sure the aircraft is as high as possible when we approach that location and then, automatically, the aircraft will reduce engine thrust and so reduce engine noise at ground level.”
On the landing approach, BA will work with Airbus to calculate how to reduce ground level noise by slightly increasing the descent angle.
The second stage of the project will see the testing and training of procedures in a British Airways flight simulator. Once all three stages are complete, the partners expect to bring all the operational improvements together into a series of A380 demonstration flights, starting early next year.
“I think once we have proved this is going to work with the A380, we will then look at the rest of the Airbus product line – the A320 family, the A330 and the A350 – and try to apply some of these technologies to our other aircraft and have a range of aircraft that will literally be the quietest in the sky,” said Buckley.
Added Ian Jopson, NATS Head of Environmental and Community Affairs: “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.”