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The main regulations for the aviation industry are defined on an international level. Under the umbrella organization that is the United Nations, the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) deals with the issue of reducing aircraft noise. 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: With 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.
The night-flight curfew includes a noise quota, which is based on aircraft types and sizes, and the number of aircraft movements. During 2017, only 65 percent of the permissible noise volume was used at Munich Airport. In 2017, 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 closure of one of the other runways.
Munich Airport aims to keep the impact on residents and employees caused by flight noise as low as possible. It applies a range of steps to achieve this, including operational, technical, and financial measures.
According to the latest analyses by the German Federal Environment Agency, 10.2 million people across Germany were affected by road noise, 6.2 million people were affected by railway noise, and 791,000 people were affected by aircraft noise with an average noise level of over 55 dB(A). 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.
Munich Airport currently gives all airlines the opportunity to land according to an optimized descent profile on the north runway. With these continuous descent operations (CDO), the aircraft’s engines are set to minimal power (ideally, they should be idling) during the descent, thus avoiding, in as far as possible, any horizontal flight phases. This offers positive effects for both the airlines and the environment: It helps to save kerosene on the one hand, while reducing noise and CO₂ emissions on the other. It also reduces noise levels by up to 6 dB(A) due to the higher crossing height in contrast to the standard procedure.
The development of very quiet aircraft types is set to accelerate further with the use of new, highly-effective geared turbofan engines. This engine architecture reduces fuel consumption by 15 percent, and therefore also reduces both carbon dioxide emissions and noise levels. The A320neo aircraft model is already equipped with these engines. It is currently the most efficient and quietest aircraft at Munich Airport, and is used for short- and medium-haul flights.
Lufthansa has based 15 A350-900 long-haul aircraft at Munich Airport and started using them on its regular flights between Munich and Delhi in February 2017. A further ten A350-900s have been ordered to gradually replace the A340-600 models. New modern aircraft types like the A350-900 generate significantly lower noise levels compared to the A340: 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 smaller and its noise level does not exceed 85 dB(A) outside the airport premises. The 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 level in the area around the airport. This results in lower aircraft noise pollution in the airport region.
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 charges may be as much as eight times higher for a loud aircraft type than a quiet one.
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 2017, nine mobile aircraft noise measuring systems recorded values on a total of 280 days, including – for the first time – in Maierklopfen, Pastetten, Buch am Buchrain, Kirchheim and Mintraching-Grüneck. Mobile measurements were again taken in Anzing, Oberndorf, Lengdorf and Ismaning.
Local residents can use the «Fluglärmüberwachung online» platform («Online aircraft noise monitoring») to find out about the current noise levels in the airport region: It provides both the latest measurements from the 16 stationary aircraft noise measuring points as well as data from the three mobile measuring vehicles.