Noise protection

Regulations regarding noise protection

Aircraft are required to adhere to strict noise limits

The main regulations for the aviation industry are defined on an international level. Under the United Nations umbrella organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) deals with the issue of reducing aircraft noise. For example, it requires new aircraft to obtain a certificate for both prototype and operational approval. However, airport operators themselves can also ban particularly loud aircraft types. Munich Airport does not allow loud aircraft without certificates according to ICAO Annex 16 to take off from or land on its premises. For the planned third runway, the same will also apply to aircraft assigned to Chapter 2 and also to marginal Chapter 3 aircraft. Other organizations and projects have set similar goals: Under its vision for 2020, the EU’s ACARE (Advisory Council for Aviation Research in Europe) is aiming to halve perceptible noise, while the EU’s «Flightpath 2050» project hopes to reduce noise emissions by 65 percent by 2050 taking the year 2000 as its base figure.

Flightpath 2050: Targets for less aircraft noise

Grafic: Flightpath 2050: Targets for less aircraft noise
Source: Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe (ACARE)

Night flight regulations at Munich Airport

The night-flight curfew in force includes a noise quota, which takes into account  aircraft types and sizes, and the number of aircraft movements. During 2016, only 64 percent of the permissible noise volume was used at Munich Airport. In 2016, the mean night-time continuous sound level at the borders to the control zone did not exceed the permitted value of 50 dB (A). The current night-flight curfew, introduced in 2001, will also apply for the planned third runway. The third runway may only be used at night in exceptional circumstances, such as an emergency or the closure of one of the other two runways. This means that the current noise quota will remain the same.

64 %

of the permitted noise volume in use

Noise reduction measures provide relief for residents

Noise control plays a major role with respect to environmental issues at airports. Airport operators aim to keep the impact on residents and employees caused by aircraft noise as low as possible. They apply a range of steps to achieve this, including operational, technical, and financial measures.

The impact of aircraft noise

According to the latest analyses by the German Federal Environment Agency, road noise inflicted mean continuous sound levels of above 55 dB(A) on 10.2 million people across Germany; railway noise of the same level affected 6.2 million people, while aircraft noise affected 791,000 people. In contrast to other major airports, Munich Airport has performed very well thanks to the excellent conditions at the site: at Munich Airport, the proportion of people who live in the area around the airport and are affected by aircraft noise is only around five percent of the comparable group at Frankfurt Airport and as little as one percent of those near London-Heathrow Airport.

People affected by traffic noise in Germany 1)

Grafic: People affected by traffic noise in Germany<sup>1)</sup>
1) Traffic noise between 55 and 70 dB(A)
2) All airports, not only major airports
Source: German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) 2016

People affected by aircraft noise 3)

Grafic: People affected by aircraft noise<sup>3)</sup>
3) Number of people who are affected by noise levels of above 55 dB (A) per day (24 hours)

Engines running idle during final approach

Munich Airport currently gives a few airlines the chance to land according to an optimized descent profile. With these continuous descent operations (CDO), the aircraft’s engines are set to minimal power (they should be idling, ideally) during the descent and any horizontal flight phases are avoided. This reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, while also reducing noise levels by up to 6 dB (A) due to the higher crossing height in contrast to the standard procedure. From February 2017, all airlines will be able to apply the CDO procedure when landing on the northern runway. This offers positive effects for both the airlines and the environment: it will help to save kerosene on the one hand, while reducing noise and CO2 emissions on the other.

Continuous descent approach

Grafic: Continuous descent approach

New engine architecture halves noise levels

The development of very quiet aircraft types is set to accelerate further the use of new geared turbofan engines. The geared fan is based on a completely new and highly effective engine architecture. This reduces fuel consumption by 15 percent, and therefore also lowers CO2 emissions and halves noise levels. The A320neo aircraft model is equipped with these engines and received its official launch in a service to Munich Airport on Janu- ary 25, 2016. The «neo» part of its name stands for «new engine option». With its improved engine technology and better aerodynamics, the Airbus A320neo is currently the most efficient and quietest aircraft used for short- and medium-haul flights at Munich Airport. According to its certification, its cumulative noise emissions are approximately 30 dB(A) below the applicable ICAO thresholds and on average around 15 dB(A) below the values for its predecessor, the A320-200.

Lufthansa received its first A350-900 in December 2016 and will start using it on its regular flights between Munich and Delhi in February 2017. Lufthansa’s first ten A350-900s will be stationed in Munich. The airline has already ordered a further 15 aircraft of this type to gradually replace its A340-600 models.

New, advanced aircraft such as the A350-900 or the Boeing B787-800 and B787-900 generate a much lower noise level at the aircraft noise measuring points when compared to an A340: initial measurements show a reduction of up to 7 dB(A) during take-off and of up to 3 dB(A) during landing. In contrast to an A340, the A350-900's noise contour is around 40 to 50 percent lower and its noise level does not exceed 85 dB(A) outside the airport premises. Increased use of these types of aircraft and, in particular, the stationing of the A350s will help to significantly reduce aircraft noise emissions, especially the peak levels in the area around the airport. This results in lower aircraft noise pollution in the airport region.

Comparison of noise contours for the Airbus A340-600 and A350-900

Grafic: Comparison of noise contours for the Airbus A340-600 and A350-900

Landing charges: quiet equals cheap

Munich Airport can influence the type of aircraft used by ensuring its landing charges depend on noise levels. Airlines using quiet aircraft benefit from a charges system based on a broad sliding scale. Noise-based take-off and landing fees may be as much as eight times higher for a loud aircraft type than a quiet one.

Dense measurement network for aircraft noise monitoring

Using 16 fixed measurement points, FMG continuously monitors aircraft noise within a radius of about 20 kilometers around Munich Airport. It also performs mobile measurements on request, which is a voluntary service available to municipalities that are not covered in the stationary measurement network. In 2016, eight mobile aircraft noise measuring systems recorded values on a total of 289 days, including – for the first time – in Zorneding, Markt Schwaben and Oberndorf. Mobile measurements were again taken in Ziegelberg, Rudelzhofen, Forstinning, Ismaning, and Fischerhäuser.

Locations of fixed noise measurement points at Flughafen München GmbH

Grafic: Locations of fixed noise measurement points at Flughafen München GmbH

Added transparency in online aircraft noise monitoring

Local residents can use the «Fluglärmüberwachung online» platform («Online aircraft noise monitoring») to find out more about the current noise levels in the airport region: «FLUMO Plus» contains both the latest measurements from the 16 stationary aircraft noise measuring points in the airport region as well as data from the three mobile measuring vehicles when they are in use.