Active noise abatement

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

The Lufthansa Group supports numerous activities and measures over the long-term in order to decrease aircraft noise perceptibly. The primary goal is to sustainably lower noise at the source and to develop optimized flying procedures in cooperation with system partners. In addition, the activities concerning noise protection also have an economic component: by flying quiet aircraft, the Group may prevent possible restrictions on operations.

Therefore, the Lufthansa Group has been working with determination on operating the quietest aircraft possible and on making its existing fleet even quieter. These efforts have been successful: in 2017, 99.5 percent – and thus almost the entire operative Group fleet – fulfilled or exceeded the strict minus- 10-decibel criterium of the ICAO Chapter 4 standard.

New aircraft mean audible improvements

The most effective lever for reducing aircraft noise is fleet modernization. In this area the Lufthansa Group cooperates closely with aircraft manufacturers and actively influences the shaping of specifications and the technical status of new aircraft. In 2017, the aviation group put 29 new aircraft into service, including five further Airbus A320neo and ten Bombardier C Series aircraft, both of which are equipped with modern engines. The same applies to the Airbus A350-900, which counts among the most modern and environmentally friendly long-haul aircraft, and flies significantly more quietly than comparable types of aircraft. In return, a total of 36 older aircraft left the Group fleet.

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.

40-50 %
Over noise contour

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. Aircraft with vortex generators are up to 4 decibels quieter during the approach phase. In the meantime, the Group has retrofitted all aircraft of the A320 family operated by Lufthansa and SWISS with these vortex generators. The retrofit of Austrian Airlines’ A320 family is expected to be completed in 2019.

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.