Active noise abatement

Active noise abatement comprises five areas

Since 2001, the Lufthansa Group has played an active and continuous role in research projects and implements noise reduction measures which are coordinated with relevant stakeholders. This research and development work forms the basis for active noise abatement.

  • Investments in quieter aircraft
  • Noise-reducing technologies for the existing fleet
  • Participation in noise research
  • Development of optimised flight procedures and flight routes
  • Dialogue with residents near airports and other stakeholders
Organisational foundations and responsibilities

The Lufthansa Group has a multi-airline expert committee under the direction of the Ops Performance/Air Side Management Lufthansa Airlines department, which meets regularly to discuss current operational and technical developments on the topic of active noise abatement. Since September 2023, this committee works for the Infrastructure & System Partnerships department, which was newly established following a restructure and has central responsibility for managing infrastructure and system partnerships. The department is the central point of contact and representative for the Human Resources & Infrastructure Executive Board function in relation to airports, air traffic control, handling agents, regulatory and political institutions (e.g. ministries) and industry associations. As the central coordinating unit within the Group on the issue of aircraft noise, it represents the Lufthansa Group in the committees of the Airport and Region Forum in Frankfurt and supports the Lufthansa Group’s participation in various aircraft noise committees.

Aircraft noise is to be reduced at source

The Lufthansa Group is permanently committed to reducing aircraft noise with a wide range of activities and measures. The primary goal is to sustainably reduce aircraft noise at source and to develop optimised flight procedures together with system partners. Improvements can be registered through, for example, the changes in the three noise levels recorded in the noise certificate.

Investments in modern and thus quieter aircraft

The single most effective measure for reducing aircraft noise at source is fleet modernisation. The Lufthansa Group modernises its fleet continuously. Aircraft that were introduced in 2023, including Airbus A320neo, A321neo, A350-900, Boeing 787-9 and Boeing 777F aircraft, have modern engines and are much quieter than similar older aircraft types.
↗ Fleet and Climate protection / Technological progress / Fleet renewal

Noise-reducing technologies for the existing fleet

In addition to modernising the fleet, retrofitting existing aircraft also results in measurable noise reduction. At the beginning of 2014, Lufthansa Airlines became the first airline worldwide to start operations with a new Airbus A320 equipped with noise-reducing vortex generators, thus setting an industry standard. Aircraft with vortex generators are up to four decibels quieter on their approach, so the Company pays lower noise fees in Frankfurt than for comparable aircraft without these components. All aircraft in the A320 family of Lufthansa Airlines and SWISS have been fitted with these modifications. The still-outstanding project to retrofit the expanded fleet of six A320 aircraft at Austrian Airlines began in late 2023 and is due to be completed by mid-2024. The modification is carried out in the course of routine technical maintenance cycles.

Retrofitting of the Eurowings A320 aircraft not yet fitted with vortex generators was completed in April 2023.

In the reporting year, Lufthansa Cargo retrofitted an A321 cargo aircraft with Airbus’ Noise Improvement Package. All four cargo aircraft of this type are therefore now equipped with these technical measures to reduce noise. As a result of this package of measures, the total of the three noise levels recorded in the noise certificate for these aircraft has decreased by two decibels.

Participation in noise research

The basis for reducing noise emissions at source is involvement in research and development projects where ideas for new noise abatement measures are tested. Testing and implementation are done at a range of locations under the oversight of various noise abatement committees and in collaboration with Lufthansa Group experts. For many years, the Lufthansa Group has been involved in noise research initiatives such as the “Efficiency Gains In Flight Operations” project (EffFlug), which received funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and was completed in 2023. Working with experts from the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Lufthansa Group sought out noise sources that could be eliminated. For this purpose, an appropriate process was developed in which noise measurements from airports were synchronised with the corresponding flight data from Lufthansa Airlines and analysed for anomalies by flight noise experts from the German Aerospace Center. Unpleasant aircraft noise during the final approach of Airbus A320neo aircraft was one use case to which this process was applied. It was shown to work in principle and can therefore be used for similar issues in future.

In the reporting year, the Lufthansa Group once again supported the German Aerospace Center in the ongoing development of its Low Noise Augmentation System (LNAS) for optimising approaches and take-offs. The LNAS uses aircraft data to recommend optimal configuration and speed. The German Aerospace Center is examining how approaches and take-offs can be made quieter and more efficient while observing safety regulations. Within the scope of a project launched in the previous year, Lufthansa Airlines will assist the German Aerospace Center by providing flight data, which is required for developing the new LNAS take-off functionality. Preparations for this began in the reporting year and the data is to be supplied in 2024.

Development of optimised flight procedures and flight routes in cooperation with system partners

Optimising the vertical flight profile (flight procedures) and horizontal flight management (flight routes) contributes to reducing noise. The Lufthansa Group is active in this area, for instance with German air traffic control (DFS) and international partners. The following examples also tend to affect fuel consumption and are therefore relevant for climate purposes. ↗ Climate protection

The modern, satellite-based Required Navigation Performance (RNP) technology, which the ICAO has used to define the navigation performance required of an aircraft, plays an important role in the introduction of new flight procedures at European airports. The new noise-reducing, innovative RNP approach procedure has been evaluated in Vienna since November 2022. Austrian Airlines regularly uses this procedure, particularly during noise-sensitive night hours. In 2024, approaches are to be analysed and the results evaluated. A new, shorter RNP departure route in Stuttgart was introduced in February 2023 through the launch of a one-year trial, which will also include taking noise measurements. Since then, the new departure route may be used up to twice an hour, including by Lufthansa Group aircraft. Lufthansa Airlines and Eurowings experts are continuing to support this trial.

Dialogue with residents near airports and other interest groups

In addition to technical and operational improvements, the Lufthansa Group has for many years been involved in various dialogue forums with residents near airports, including in Frankfurt and Vienna. The experts from the Lufthansa Group contribute to the development of active noise abatement measures in these multilateral working groups.

At Frankfurt Airport, Lufthansa Airlines (representing the Lufthansa Group) participates in the Noise Abatement Alliance together with the Hesse state government, Fraport AG, the Airport and Region Forum, German air traffic control (DFS) and the airline association BARIG. The airline is an influential member of the Active Noise Abatement expert panel and its sub-working groups. The focus of these activities is on optimising flight procedures and reducing noise at source. In relation to this, the Airport and Region Forum held the 5th International Conference on Active Noise Abatement (ICANA 23) in March 2023 with the theme “Active noise abatement at source”. The Lufthansa Group played an active role in planning and implementing this event.

Through its cooperation with stakeholders such as airport operators, authorities and municipalities, the Lufthansa Group also actively and voluntarily participates in several aircraft noise committees (Fluglärmkommissionen) required for major airports under the German Air Traffic Control Act and in the working group of German flight noise committees.

Performance indicator
99.6% of the operational Group fleet meet aircraft noise standard

Improvements in noise abatement from modernising the operational Group fleet can be seen in the number of aircraft that meet or exceed the ten-decibel criterion set by the ICAO Chapter 4 standard. This standard defines noise limits and stipulates that all commercial aircraft newly licensed after 2006 must cumulatively fall below the older Chapter 3 noise limits by a margin of 10 decibels or more. As of 28 October 2023 (end of the summer timetable), 99.6% of the aircraft – virtually the Group’s entire operating fleet – met this criterion.

Lufthansa Group Annual Report 2023