The Lufthansa Group is setting standards in its active approach to noise abatement

For many years, the Lufthansa Group has applied numerous activities and measures to achieve a noticeable decrease of the unavoidable noise emissions in areas surrounding airports. The goal is to reduce noise at the source over the long-term and to develop optimized flight procedures together with system partners. Continuous investments in modern and particularly quiet aircraft make a significant contribution in this area.

With regard to noise emissions, 610 of the 613 aircraft in the active fleet of the Lufthansa Group fulfill the currently most stringent so-called Chapter 4 noise standard of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which has been in effect since 2006 for new aircraft. 

New aircraft mean audible improvements

The greatest progress in reducing aircraft noise can be achieved by the operation of modern aircraft. The Lufthansa Group invests continuously in this area. 

On short- and medium-haul routes, the Airbus A320neo is by far the most efficient and quietest aircraft thanks to new engine technology and improved aerodynamics. In January 2016, Lufthansa became the first customer worldwide to take delivery of this model. In comparison with an A320 in the existing fleet, the A320neo features a noise footprint that is about 50 percent smaller. 

The Airbus A350-900 is another aircraft to fly especially quietly. Lufthansa started operations with the first aircraft of this type at the end of 2016.

Noise contours compared A350-900 vs. A340-300/600

Compared to previous models, the Airbus A350-900 shows a 40–50 percent lower noise contour. The 85 dB(A) maximum noise level contours are shown for a takeoff with Lufthansa standard takeoff procedures and maximum takeoff weight (MTOW). By comparison, a maximum noise level of 85 dB(A) is produced by a truck passing at a distance of five meters (16 feet) in city traffic.

Source: Airbus, information as of: 11/2016

In mid-2016, Swiss International Air Lines became the first airline worldwide to start operations with the new Bombardier CS100. Compared with the aircraft operated so far, noise emissions during takeoff drop by half with this model. As a result, with the C Series SWISS makes an important contribution to the quality of life for people near airports.

Retrofitting the existing fleet

The Lufthansa Group is also retrofitting older aircraft in its fleet with noise-reducing technologies. In this connection the Group is working closely with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the various aircraft manufacturers. 

At the beginning of 2014, Lufthansa was the first airline worldwide to start operations with an Airbus A320 equipped with noise-reducing vortex generators, thus setting an industry standard. In the meantime, Lufthansa Technik retrofitted all of the airline’s A320s with this type of vortex generator. At the same time, Airbus only delivers new aircraft of this type equipped with this modification.

In 2016, SWISS also equipped its aircraft of the Airbus A320 family with the noise-reducing vortex generators. This modification significantly reduces noise burdens in the regions around Zurich and Geneva airports. In fall 2016, Austrian Airlines also launched the retrofit of its A320 aircraft with vortex generators. 

Overfly measurements revealed that the vortex generators are able to eliminate two unpleasant tones and thereby lower the aircraft’s total noise level on approach by up to four decibels at distances between 17 and 10 kilometers from the runway. Thus the Lufthansa Group has realized a key objective of the “Alliance for More Noise Protection”, a joint initiative of the Lufthansa Group, Fraport, the airline association BARIG, DFS, the Airport and Region Forum (FFR), and the government of the State of Hesse. 

Airbus A320 audio tests

A320 audio tests with and without vortex generators on the final approach at Frankfurt Airport from the Offenbach-Lauterborn monitoring point.

A320 audio tests with and without vortex generators on the final approach at Munich Airport from the Massenhausen monitoring point.

Optimized approach and departure procedures

In its efforts to fly more quietly, the Lufthansa Group, together with their system partners, has been having successful results for a long time with new flight procedures such as constant rates of descent, steep approaches, and changes in flight routes. Such noise-reducing takeoff and landing procedures are another focus of the active noise abatement measures, such as those developed and implemented in the Airport and Region Forum (FFR) in Frankfurt.

Particularly in Frankfurt, our biggest German hub, representatives of the flight operators regularly take part in a roundtable of experts and work intensively to introduce optimized takeoff and landing approach procedures.

Noise research for quieter flying

The Lufthansa Group has been committed to noise research for many years, which helps create the foundations for successful measures in active noise protection. Only these involved and highly complex research and development projects lead to quieter aircraft and engine generations as well as the desired optimizations of the existing fleet. For the Lufthansa Group it is therefore very important to continue this ongoing cycle of intensive research as well as new technologies and products to obtain further efficiency increases in the performance of aircraft and engines.