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Case Story Details


Organization Name

Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengesellschaft

Case Story Title

Research for quiet air transport

Case Story Date


Issues Addressed

  • Principle 7 - Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges
  • Principle 8 - Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility
  • Principle 9 - Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

Case Story Category

Internalization Project

Countries of Impact


Case Description

Research for quiet air transport

The mobility of people and goods is the basis for affluence. However, all forms of transport are associated with noise and thus the subject of controversy in society. One condition for more mobility is to reduce noise to acceptable levels. For many years, Lufthansa has been committed to decoupling its growth in transport performance from the development of noise emissions – and has been successful in this quest.

Environmental performance is a purchase criterion
Today, noise and environmental performance are decisive criteria in determining which new types of aircraft the airline acquires. The experts in Lufthansa’s fleet management apply strict standards in this respect. Thanks to the latest engine technology and an aerodynamically advanced wing, the new Airbus A380 – set to be operated by Lufthansa from summer 2009 – will significantly reduce the overall burden of noise emissions. The A380’s noise imprint has shrunk to only one-third the size of that generated by a Boeing 747-200, even though the A380 carries 50 percent more passengers and freight. For many other additions to its fleet, such as the Airbus A330-300, Lufthansa specified the quietest type of engine available.

Tracking down aerodynamic noise
To further optimize aerodynamic noise during the approach and departure phases, the sources of noise on an aircraft’s surface must be known in detail. For this purpose, the experts of Lufthansa and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) used different microphone systems to record the noise generated by an Airbus A319 and an MD-11 freighter in the context of a series of flyby measurements.

Among the many developments tested, one is especially promising: airflow deflectors, so-called vortex generators – mounted on the wing’s underside in front of the fuel tanks’ overpressure relief outlets – generate small vortexes on their edges as the air passes over them. In turn, these suppress the wailing sounds generated by the fist-sized openings. As there are four of these openings on the underside of each wing of the A319, A320 and A321, the noise reduction potential is enormous. All airports served by the Airbus short-haul fleet stand to benefit from this improvement. Close to 3,000 aircraft of the A320 family are currently being operated; Lufthansa alone operates more than 100 aircraft from the A320 family.

Noise optimization during approach and departure
The noise level perceived on the ground is also determined by how steeply an aircraft climbs and at which angle of descent it lands. Scientists see potentials for further improvements in this area. In the framework of the latest noise recording campaign (2006), several take-off and landing procedures were measured acoustically. These data are fed into a forecast model, which can be used in the future to determine the quietest flight procedure.\nConclusion:
In its noise reduction strategy, Lufthansa pursues three approaches: To purchase modern and quiet aircraft, to improve the existing fleet’s noise profile by supporting research and development, and to further optimize approach and departure procedures within the parameters of operational requirements. The achievements realized so far prove that traffic-related noise can be reduced over the long-term despite growing mobility needs.

Stefan Schaffrath
Deutsche Lufthansa AG




Stefan Schaffrath
Lufthansa German Airlines

Contact Person


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