High flying gymnasts?

Lots of gymnasts flew to Geneva over the weekend. Some came in on special flights of SAS, using modern quiet aircraft. Meanwhile, SAS regular flights still frequently use old and noisy aircraft!

It is only a supposition, but is almost certainly correct, that the special flights last weekend to Geneva, from Bergen, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stavanger and Stockholn, and operated by Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), were to bring in gymnasts and officials for the Gymnaestrada in Lausanne. This event is number 14 in the series and will last all this week (11-15 July). There are around 19,000 gmnasts from 55 countries, so it is a major event of the year for Lausanne.

I found it interesting to note that all of the aircraft used were relatively modern, classified as in the category of least noise (class V), with most of them being of type Boeing 737. In parallel, there were two regular flights from Copenhagen: one on Saturday and one on Sunday. The Saturday one was with the aircraft registered as OY-KHU, a McDonnell Douglas MD-87 built in 1991 and in noise class IV. That of Sunday was with the aircraft registered as LN-RMM, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 also built in 1991 but in noise class II (very noisy!).

Since many of these took off over Vernier, we can look at the noise measurements on the ARAG Vernier noise monitor and compare the noise measurements for when these aircraft left again. Whereas the Boeing 737 departures generate typically less than 80 dbA, the MD-87 registered about 87 dbA (about 7 times louder) and the MD-82 about 89 dbA (about 10 times louder).

These MD-82 and MD-87 aircraft will be paying noise surcharges that are claimed by the Airport Management to discourage them from using old, noisy aircraft. Clearly, the discouragement is not sufficient!

It is also of interest to note that these aircraft did not leave Geneva as regular scheduled flights: they must thus have left as empty ferry flights, which are non-commercial (by the official definition of OFAC ) and are not allowed after 10pm. However, one only left at 10h15 pm on Saturday night. It appears that the Director of the airport has decided that this year, from 1 January, such flights are to be treated as commercial!

It is doubtful if the people who are overflown late at night by empty jet aircraft taking off, particularly appreciate this decision!



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