Helsinki Airport’s priority is to continuously reduce aircraft noise caused by landings. The noise pollution affects especially the airports’ neighbors - people living near airports.
Green landings, which employ the principles of Continuous Descent Operation, have a significant role in decreasing the amount of noise pollution.
”Continuous Descent Operations are a great way to reduce the noise caused by plane landings while reducing fuel consumption and emissions. At the moment, approximately 70 percent of landings at Helsinki Airport are green landings,” tells Samu Tuparinne, Manager, Noise Management at Finavia.
In green landings, aircaft’s landing is planned so that it can descend to the runway keeping the same cruising altitude. Noise is reduced by opening the wing flaps and landing gear as late as possible and by adjusting the speed evenly throughout the landing.
“In the old, gradual approach, aircraft flies horizontally before the final descent – it’s almost like it stops its landing for a while. During the horizontal stage noise increases as it requires more power from the engines, which increases also fuel consumption,” says Tuparinne.
Planning is key
The Gradual Descent Operation seems simple, but in order to work in practice, it requires seamless cooperation between the airport, air traffic control, and airline.
”Air traffic control is in many ways a key enabler: it provides the pilot with information necessary to carry out the green landing,” tells Tuparinne.
Helsinki Airport is among the greenest airports in Europe when it comes to landings, and also other Finnish airports are performing well. At smaller airports the airspace less crowded, making Gradual Descent Operations easier to conduct.
At Helsinki Airport, the amount of aircrafts employing Gradual Descent Operations is tied to its environmental permit – during the day, the goal is 70 percent, and at nights 80 percent. Overall, the development of the green landings has been good throughout the years, and set goals are about to be achieved.
“We aim at increasing the amount of green landings annually. Also other development work is ongoing. Next on sight is decreasing noise with the Low Power - Low Drag (LP-LD) mechanism. It enables minimal motor use during the landing,” Tuparinne concludes.