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Noise Management Strategy

Reducing the noise from our aircraft

Engineer working on aircraft engine

Virgin Atlantic has announced an aviation-first, becoming the only airline to set itself robust noise targets and publish a strategy for delivering on those targets, in a fully peer-reviewed Noise Management Strategy.

Through significant aircraft investment and by adopting the latest operational techniques, we’ve achieved a 5dB reduction in the average noise output per aircraft in our fleet since 1984.

Our new Noise Management Strategy sets out our aims to achieve further noise reductions across our fleet. It’s been designed in line with our Change is in the Air Sustainability Report, is easy to read and provides a clear and concise summary of our plans.

Just to summarise, there are five noise commitments we’re working towards – further detail can be found in the strategy itself:

Pledge 1 - There has been a 5dB reduction in the average noise output per aircraft in our fleet since 1984. And we are pledging to achieve a further 6dB reduction on average noise output per movement by 2020, a challenging target. A major step towards that will be delivered by the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which has a 60% smaller footprint than aircraft of a comparable size today.

Pledge 2 - We will continue to implement and, where possible, increase the use of aircraft noise reducing procedures. We will continue to work with the wider industry in developing and exploring the feasibility of new operating techniques.

Pledge 3 - We will continue to work with the airports from which we operate to ensure that we mitigate noise for local communities surrounding airports and that only appropriate developments take place where necessary. It is important that going forwards the land-use planning system does not permit the development of noise sensitive building in areas closest to airports.

Pledge 4 – We aim to ensure that any of our scheduled night flight operations are carried out with a minimal impact on local communities. On our noise restricted night flights, we have seen a 66% quota count (QC) reduction and for aircraft on arrival a 75% reduction between 1984 and 2013. We will continue to ensure that we’re adopting the appropriate noise abatement operational procedures on our night flight operations and minimise late-running departures through our company-wide focus on ‘On Time Performance’.

Pledge 5 - We will continue to develop our engagement with local communities impacted by our operations. We will continue to work collaboratively across industry groups and with
airport authorities to remain engaged with local community priorities at key airports.

Virgin Atlantic’s Noise Management Strategy has been peer reviewed by Noise Communication Solutions, who concluded that it was a robust piece of work that is a ‘trail blazer’ for the industry. Key elements include the introduction of the Boeing 787-9 – which has a 60% smaller noise footprint than aircraft of a comparable size – into its fleet, and working with industry to explore new operating techniques and procedures. Virgin has also pledged to develop its engagement with local communities around key airports, with the intention of holding roundtable seminars in 2014.  

In the coming weeks Virgin Atlantic will be meeting MPs, industry groups and particularly  interest groups on both sides of the aviation debate to present the work. The airline has committed to undertaking a review of its Noise Management Strategy at least every 5 years, during which period it will update and review how it performs against the challenging targets set. The work will run alongside Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Change is in the Air’ sustainability programme.

Take a look at the full Noise Management Strategy (PDF).