Heathrow says airlines continue switch to cleaner aircraft and announces winners of first sustainability prizes
(photo: Heathrow Airport)
Mon 10 Sept 2018 – London’s Heathrow Airport says the trend by airlines to switch to newer, quieter aircraft is continuing, with more than one in five aircraft landing at the airport this year expected to be Chapter 14 Low compliant, the quietest aircraft available, an increase from the 16% in 2017. The airport has published its latest Fly Quiet and Green quarterly league table for the period April to June, which shows Aer Lingus taking over top spot from Scandinavian Airlines, followed closely by British Airways’ short-haul fleet. Heathrow has also announced the winner of its first Centre of Excellence Sustainable Innovation Prize. Start-up Energy Crop Solutions will receive £20,000 ($26,000) in funding and the opportunity to use the airport as a test bed to explore the applicability and benefits of the latest willow cultivars for local communities and Heathrow’s biomass boiler.
The three top performing airlines in the Fly Quiet and Green rankings all scored highly in six of the seven noise and emission metrics and showed an upward trend in their use of continuous descent arrival procedures and better adherence to specified departure routes, known as noise preferential routes (NPRs).
Other strong performers in last quarter’s rankings included the long-haul aircraft of Turkish Airlines, which has moved to include more efficient Boeing 777s in its fleet serving Heathrow that have helped improve its ability to fly within NPRs. The carrier moved into 17th place in the rankings, up 25 places from the previous quarter.
Other strong performers include Oman Air, which has improved its ranking by 11 places as a result of working closely with the airport to improve its performance. Saudi Arabian Airlines is also working with Heathrow’s operational team and has taken delivery of a new system that allows it to see within 20 minutes of arrival how each aircraft has performed on measures like continuous descent approaches and track keeping, and for the airline to engage with flight crews to drive up performance.
The league table shows a red/green/amber status for the seven noise and emission metrics, and Heathrow says its team provides regular feedback to airlines and identify specific areas to be targeted for improvement, particularly engaging with those airlines with red indicators.
“Heathrow will continue to work closely with our airline partners to improve results even further, as part of our mission to be a better neighbour,” commented the airport’s Director of Sustainability, Matt Gorman.
Entries for the first Sustainable Innovation competition were asked to focus on three areas: using waste as a resource; sustainable and low carbon materials; and measuring and enhancing quality of life locally. The judging panel was made up of senior Heathrow executives and IAG’s Director of Sustainability, Jonathon Counsell.
Energy Crop Solutions plans to work with local charity Green Corridor to explore how different willow varieties provide acoustic, air quality and aesthetic improvements for local residents. It will also investigate if the willows can be used to fuel the airport’s on-site biomass boiler.
A similar innovation competition for those who work at the airport was won by Andrew Swift, whose idea is to use the airport’s plastic waste for its road surfacing. Heathrow says it will fund research with its university partners, which could lead to an on-airport trial.
“The world slowly is waking up to the big issue plastic is causing our environment and here at Heathrow I can see the desire to be an industry leader in making a difference,” said Swift.
Five other submissions were given honourable mentions that included a logistics app to cut freight vehicle emissions; an airport car-sharing service; recyclable cardboard furniture; low-cost noise detection monitoring; and food waste reduction. Heathrow is exploring whether these ideas can also be supported at the airport and is also planning to launch a second competition in early 2019.
The competition was set up as part of the airport’s Heathrow 2.0 sustainability strategy unveiled last year.