Ever-quieter aircraft at Brussels Airport
Driven by an ambition to continuously lower their environmental and energy performance impact, airlines are investing heavily in their fleet. Many have opted to do so by modernising them with new generation aircraft that consume less energy and that are significantly quieter. But in what areas can aircraft manufacturers reduce the noise and ecological footprint of their aircraft?
Impressive technological advances...
Aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier have long factored the environment into their research and development. Their investments have been innovating for years in order to produce ever lighter composite materials, ever more efficient and silent engines, or even to develop ever more aerodynamic wings. In 50 years, aircraft manufacturers have managed to reduce the noise impact of aircraft by 10 decibels. In concrete terms, aircraft noise is now perceived to be half as much as before. These technological innovations are therefore beneficial for both airlines and local residents.
...and that also applies to Brussels Airport
The evolution of aircraft and their technological advances are also noticeable at Brussels Airport. From 2005 to 2017, the share of old aircraft dropped by 19 points to reach a historic low of 2%. While 77% of aircraft are in the “modern” category at Brussels Airport, the use of “state-of-the-art” aircraft has doubled. These state-of-the-art aircraft now make up more than one-fifth (21%) of the fleet operating from Brussels Airport. This trend is likely to increase in the future.
Brussels Airport favours quieter aircraft
Brussels Airport's noise quota policy is very clear: the more polluting and loud an aircraft is, the higher the airport taxes imposed on the airline. These differentiated fares have evolved over time, including the transition from 4 to 8 noise categories that allow us to assign a value to the noise footprint of each aircraft on the Brussels Airport tarmac.
As a result, the noisiest aircraft fall into the R1 category while the quietest aircraft are labelled R8. Concretely and at the present time, the rate difference between the most silent category (R8) and the noisiest category (R1) is almost 3.
Short-haul, long-haul and cargo aircraft combined
Old (R1-R2) > 2005 = 21% - 2017 = 2%
Modern (R3-R4-R5) > 2005 = 68% - 2017 = 77%
State-of-the-art (R6-R7-R8) > 2005 = 11% - 2017 = 21%
State-of-the-art and silent aircraft at Brussels Airport
For long-haul flights, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a top choice. Already popular with airlines such as TUI Fly, Ethiopian Airlines, Hainan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Air Canada and United (as of May 2019), the Dreamliner is energy efficient because it is made of lightweight composite materials and has high performance engines. When it comes to noise, the Dreamliner falls under noise categories R7 and R8 (depending on the model), that is to say the best categories in terms of noise impact. In a similar category, the Airbus A350 also stands out in terms of its noise footprint. Thanks to its cutting-edge engines and electronic equipment, the A350 is one of the most silent aircraft on the market (R8 category) and has reduced its noise footprint by 40%. The A350 also emits 25% less CO2 per seat. Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways and Qatar Airways have chosen it for their routes from Brussels to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Doha.
For short-haul flights, the Bombardier C-series, the Boeing 737-MAX and the Airbus A320neo come out on top. The CS300, used by airBaltic and Swiss, is one of the most eco-friendly commercial aircraft. With a noise performance placing it in the R7 category and a 20% reduction in carbon emissions, the CS300 is a good choice for any airline offering flights throughout Europe.
The Boeing 737-MAX, which joined the TUI Fly fleet in 2018 and will be joining the Icelandair fleet as of May 2019, is not lagging behind: thanks to its latest-generation engines and split winglets that reduce drag, the B737-MAX emits 14% less carbon and has significantly reduced noise pollution, placing it in the R6 category. Finally, the Airbus A320neo, the most noise efficient aircraft for short-haul flights (category R8), has already been adopted by several airlines such as Lufthansa, easyJet, SAS, Vueling and WOW Air. Its noise impact has been reduced by 50%, while its CO2 emissions per seat have been reduced by 20%.
Brussels Airport can only applaud these initiatives in favour of more environmentally friendly aircraft and encourages other airlines to also make a commitment to the greater sustainability of their fleet in future.
The most efficient long-haul aircraft
- Old model = B767-300
- New model = Dreamliner 787-9
> Difference on take-off = -7dB and Difference on landing = -3dB
- Old model = A330-300
- New model = A350
> Difference on take-off = -7dB and Difference on landing = -2dB
The most efficient short-haul aircraft
- Old model = A319
- New model = CS300
> Difference on take-off = -3dB and Difference on landing = -1dB
- Old model = B737-800
- New model = B737-MAX
> Difference on take-off = -4dB and Difference on landing = -3dB
- Old model = A320
- New model = A320neo
> Difference on take-off = -6dB and Difference on landing = -4dB