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ENVIRONMENT Last modified on August 18, 2019

Going green

Spotlight on LAX’s handling of aviation’s most eco-friendly commercial flight, Gatwick reducing its noise footprint and the recycling efforts of Detroit Metropolitan.

LAX makes history on World Environment Day

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) claims to have welcomed the most eco-friendly commercial flight in aviation history on World Environment Day.

Operator, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), makes the claim because it says that United Airlines flight 310, a Boeing 737-900ER with a special Eco-Skies livery, was the first to demonstrate the following key actions on a single commercial flight:

  • Use of sustainable aviation biofuel
  • Zero cabin waste
  • Carbon offsetting; and
  • Operational efficiencies including all-electric ground handling equipment.

The ‘Flight for the Planet’, as United is calling it, departed from Chicago and landed at LAX, the company’s ‘eco-hub’ for sustainable operations, on June 5.

Its arrival coincided with United’s commitment to purchase up to 10 million gallons of sustainable aviation biofuel at LAX.

“LAX is proud to be United’s eco-hub for its most sustainable operations, highlighting our shared commitment to leading the industry in emerging sustainable aviation practices,” said Samantha Bricker, LAWA’s deputy executive director, environmental programmes group.

“Los Angeles World Airports is an international leader in airport sustainability, and partnerships like this one are leading the way to a greener future at our nation’s airports.”

The eco-hub designation comes in part from United’s recent commitment to continue buying and utilising sustainable biofuel for all of its departing flights at LAX over the next two years.

Gatwick reduces noise footprint

London Gatwick may be one of the UK’s busiest airports with rising passenger numbers, but its noise footprint is getting smaller, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The CAA’s noise exposure contour analysis shows that Gatwick’s noise footprint (54dBA Leq) reduced by 7% in 2018.

The decline is being attributed to improved operational procedures – including smoother descents that reduce drag and use less power – as well as the phasing out of the noisiest aircraft and the introduction of new, quieter jets.

Using the nationally recognised standard measurement (54dBA Leq), Gatwick’s noise footprint shrank from 82.7 square kilometres to 77.1 square kilometres in 2018 – compared to 2017 – with the number of people living within this noise contour also falling to 10,200 from 10,950.

Cumulatively, over the last two years, 900 people have been taken out of this noise footprint as it shrank 11% – reducing in area from 86.5 square kilometres in 2016 to 77.1 square kilometres in 2018.

Gatwick’s noise footprint has reduced by 48% over the last 20 years and by 14.5% over the last decade.

In terms of future noise reductions, the next generation of aircraft – including the Airbus A320neo, A321neo and A350; and Boeing’s 787 (Dreamliner) – are up to 50% quieter than their predecessors.

The airport notes that in the future, the airline fleets that operate from Gatwick will be dominated by these quieter aircraft, with forecasts showing that this type of next generation aircraft will make up 86% of Gatwick’s aircraft fleet by 2032/33, up from 3% in 2017/18.

Andy Sinclair, Gatwick’s head of airspace, said: “We are making good progress against our objective of reducing the impact that aircraft noise has on our local communities, but we recognise that more must be done.

“We will continue to challenge ourselves and our industry partners and will be introducing a range of new initiatives to reduce noise further in coming years.”

Space for waste grows in DTW’s North Terminal

Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA) is improving the public recycling programme in Detroit Metro Airport’s North Terminal in response to customer suggestions and the State of Michigan’s efforts to improve recycling throughout the state.

WCAA has added 45 coloured recycling receptacles to the North Terminal, the contents of which will be brought to an in-terminal recycling compactor before being transported to a local recycling facility.

“Our new waste receptacles use colours, shapes and pictures to help simplify the recycling process for our passengers,” comments WCAA sustainability programme administrator, Sara Kaplan.

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