As part of our sustainable product development, we are not only working on reducing fuel consumption and the climate impact of air traffic. Our Clean Air Engine agenda also focuses on reducing aircraft noise and sets out clear targets to this end. Flying as a whole is set to become significantly quieter, too.
We are committed to active environmental protection and determined to reduce aircraft noise. This is important because quiet propulsion concepts can improve the situation for residents living near airports, thereby promoting society’s acceptance of air travel, especially in view of the increasing number of aircraft movements. As with our approach to climate action, we have established several pillars to anchor the issue of aircraft noise in the company. In our global Code of Conduct, we commit to climate protection and explicitly to reducing noise emissions from aircraft engines. We want to set standards in this area, and we have formulated our goal accordingly. The MTU Principles also include the requirement to create products with lower noise emissions under the heading “Environment and society.”
Our contribution to the SDGs
Our active commitment to reducing aircraft noise helps achieve two SDGs of the UN’s 2030 Agenda: SDG 9 on “Industry, innovation and infrastructure” and SDG 12 on “Responsible consumption and production.” Reducing aircraft noise levels improves the aviation infrastructure that is important for growth and prosperity while at the same time leading to lower levels of pollution for people living around airports.
In contrast to CO2 emissions, to receive certification from aviation authorities both aircraft and engines must meet noise limits set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); in the past, these limits have been successively tightened. Furthermore, at almost every airport in the world, the fees charged for takeoff and landing are dependent on the noise emissions of the aircraft model.
In the certification of new aircraft models, noise is measured using a standardized process at three defined points and then cumulated. Aircraft noise has decreased continuously since the 1960s, by a total of about 17 EPNdB (effective perceived noise decibels) or about 70%.
Quieter flying: Our Clean Air Engine agenda provides answers in this area, too
With our Clean Air Engine agenda (Claire), we are pursuing not only climate action targets → Climate & flying, but also targets for reducing aircraft noise emissions. Our project is in line with the European aviation industry and research sector’s Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), which calls for noise reductions of 55% by 2035 and 65% by 2050. With the first-generation geared turbofan, we have already significantly reduced aircraft noise emissions as part of Claire Stage 1. They are on average 15–20 EPNdB (cumulated over the three ICAO measuring points) below the current legally stipulated noise emission class, ICAO Stage 4. This equates to a reduction in the geared turbofan’s noise footprint (spread of aircraft noise near airports) of 75%.
With our Clean Air Engine agenda, we have not only set ourselves targets for protecting the climate. We also want to gradually reduce aircraft noise—by up to 65% by 2050.
In the next step, Claire Stage 2, improvements to the second-generation geared turbofan are set to reduce aircraft and engine noise emissions by 50% (base year 2000). To achieve this, the engine industry has developed the necessary fans with a low pressure ratio and low-noise low-pressure turbines as part of European research programs such as ENOVAL.
SRIA and Claire agenda targets for reducing noise emissions
In the third and final stage of Claire, noise emissions are set to be reduced by as much as 65% (base year 2000) thanks to new engine architectures such as integrated and distributed engines. Our engineers are currently working on various promising concepts for the future, and our acoustics experts are involved in our projects at every stage of product development, from technology management to subsequent engine design and optimization.