From 2000, the global noise energy of the Air France aircrafts have been reduced by 38% as the number of flights movements was growing by 16%.
Noise in the vicinity of airports is the prime environmental concern of local residents. Minimizing noise is therefore a vital issue not only for residents but also for everyone involved in air transport.
Noise at source, flight paths, and urban sprawl around airports are the chief components of the noise environment and exposure to it. Everyone either directly or indirectly involved in air transport must work together to deliver a response that takes account of all aspects of the problem. It was on this basis that the ICAO formulated the principle of the “Balanced Approach” enshrining shared action guidelines designed to reduce noise levels in the vicinity of airports.
The “Balanced Approach” principle is designed as an aid to continuous improvement. It recommends the concurrent implementation of four types of action:
NEW SOLUTIONS FOR AIRCRAFT NOISE:
In 2012, following complaints from residents living close to the airport about a particular noise produced by the A320 family of aircraft, Air France and the French Civil Aviation Authority requested Airbus to investigate the origin of the noise, which led to a design modification which cancels this noise.
On a voluntary basis, Air France decided to progressively fit all of its A320s concerned (116 aircraft) with noise reduction kits by 2016.
This modification will be applied to new Airbus aircraft.
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Reducing noise at source involves operating aircraft that use the best in acoustic quality technology. The reduction is highly significant when an airline deploys latest-generation aircraft, and in particular long-haul models.
For Air France, and for the Air France KLM group as a whole, reducing noise hindrance is a vital factor driving large-scale investment in fleet renewal. In IATA 2010-2011, despite the extremely degraded business environment, Air France KLM invested nearly €1.15 billion in fleet renewal. The investment enabled the Group to put 30 new aircraft into service: a renewal ratio of over 5%.
The Group’s continuous fleet modernization efforts have a highly significant impact on reducing the noise energy generated by our operations.
Fleet renewal is a major driver used by Air France to minimize noise levels. But the Company is also working in other areas, namely noise abatement procedures, crew training, and compliance with published flight schedules.
► Air France and the deployment of noise abatement procedures
The deployment of airport-specific noise abatement procedures significantly reduces residents’ exposure to noise. In line with the undertakings of the “Grenelle” environmental summit, the French Civil Aviation Authority, DGAC, has developed a set of Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) procedures for French airports. The principle underlying the CDA is to reach “top of descent” (the stage of level flight preceding the start of the final approach) sooner. That stage of level flight involves high source noise levels, as flaps are partially extended and power settings relatively high. Adopting a CDA profile cuts noise exposure for zones located 20-30km from the runway threshold, which are in general very densely populated. To achieve even more significant noise reductions, the CDA is generally combined with an increase in the altitude of the initial glide path.
The DGAC has estimated that the noise level beneath the flight path can be reduced by 3-6dB. Air France has been the DGAC’s lead partner in developing continuous descent approaches for several years. Under the partnership, CDA profiles have been developed for Marseille and Orly airports, and Air France is currently working with the DGAC to implement CDA procedures at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport.
► Air France and crew training
Some flight crew instructions directly related to the airline pilot’s job result in positive environmental protection outcomes. This is especially the case for procedures designed to cut fuel consumption, which were initially drafted for economic reasons but which also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While aircraft noise is not directly related to any financial objectives for the Company, Air France has nevertheless realized that minimizing noise hindrance is a prime human and strategic issue. It has accordingly enriched its crew training programs with specifically environment-oriented modules. The modules can be generic, such as compliance with VPE environmental protection volumes, designed to limit flight-path dispersion, or guidance for performing continuous descent approaches. The modules may also be airport-specific, in the shape of landing-field familiarization using maps, videos or a flight simulator session, or cover visual approach guidelines.
► Air France and compliance with published flight schedules
For any airline, punctuality is an essential service quality factor for customers. Compliance with published flight schedules is also very important for people living around airports, notably as regards avoidance of unscheduled night flights. The Air France Operations Control Center (OCC) monitors schedule fulfillment on a continuous basis and takes all possible measures to avoid unscheduled night time aircraft movements. Consequently, unscheduled night time aircraft movements are the result of totally unforeseeable events, such as a technical failure just before take-off, unexpectedly severe weather conditions, or air airspace congestion.
Most French airports have set up Environmental Advisory Committees (CCE - Commission Consultative de l’Environnement), which constitute the main joint discussion forum for stakeholders. Air France is a member of each of these CCEs and takes part in discussions on environmental policies in connection with airport development.
In this connection, in 2014, Air France-KLM’s contribution to the soundproofing subsidy budget was 31,5 million euros.
Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport is central to Air France’s airline operations and constitutes a strategic amenity for its future.
Air France is especially attentive to the conditions underpinning its development and notably to the consequences such development may have on the amount of noise to which people living around the airport may be exposed.
In 2009 and 2010 Air France took part in a large number of working groups as part of an initiative to implement a sustainable development charter for the airport. The discussions concluded with the Assises du Grand Roissy symposium held in January 2011. Current noise regulations are to be strengthened by new measures aimed at retiring noisier aircraft, tracing new flight paths that minimize overflight of built-up areas, and developing continuous descent approaches.
The new measures are a continuation of those taken in previous decades and which have helped keep noise levels in the vicinity of the airport in check despite increased flight traffic. Thus, the IGMP weighted global measured indicator fell by over 14 points between 2000 and 2009 (85,6% iso 100%). This indicator is based on noise levels measured at either end of the runway. The noise energy recorded is multiplied by a factor of 3 between 1800hrs and 2200hrs, and then by a factor of 10 between 2200hrs and 0600hrs, to take account of the increased noise hindrance generated by evening and night flights. The reduction in the indicator correlates with the reduction in the areas exposed to medium-high noise levels between 1998 and 2008 – a reduction of approximately 50%.
This correlated reduction in available noise indicators reflects the validity of the environmental policies implemented over the years. Air France has constantly asserted its support for these policies and has actively contributed to minimizing noise hindrance by renewing its fleet and, more widely, on the strength of its environmental and sustainable development initiatives.