• The Port of Seattle collaborated with EVA Air to change their late-night flight to a quieter Boeing 787-10 instead of a Boeing 777 or Boeing 747-400.
  • The Fly Quiet Awards incentivize airlines to use quieter aircraft and adhere to noise abatement procedures, with Air Canada, Frontier Airlines, and Alaska Airlines winning 2023 awards.
  • The Port of Seattle takes various actions to reduce noise impact, including limiting night take-offs from the runway closest to the community and encouraging airlines to use continuous taxi to take-offs and limit reverse thrust.

In a second half of reporting, Simple Flying explores how Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), and its operator, the Port of Seattle, are working with airlines to be a quieter neighbor. The Port works with airlines to encourage airlines to use quieter aircraft flying in and out of SEA, among other things.

Making that 02:10 take-off quieter

Recently, the authorities worked with EVA Air on their 02:10 flight from Seattle to Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE). Using its noise monitoring program, the Port reached out to EVA Air about their late-night performance. This led to the carrier changing the aircraft serving the early evening arrival and late-night departure from the Boeing 777, which was previously served by the 747, to the much quieter 787-10.

EVA Air Boeing 787-10 Smoking the Mains at KSEA
Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple Flying

The Port of Seattle’s Noise Program Manager, Thomas Fagerstrom, shared with Simple Flying,

Our late night noise limitation program, pointed out that EVA Airways, for example, had the most noise level exceedances during our overnight hours from midnight to five.

When asked about EVA Air's response and request to change aircraft, Fagerstrom said, “They really were great” in collaboration. Fagerstrom did note that FedEx is also making a fleet upgrade, retiring their MD-11s.

Two 767 Freighters Bracket MD-11 on the KSEA FedEx Ramp
Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple Flying

Fagerstrom did note that one MD-11 heads out at 04:00 and will be replaced by a Boeing 767, which is somewhat quieter. Furthermore, the Port cannot regulate such things but can make outreach with data and incentives to airlines.

Fly Quiet Awards

One tool that the Port of Seattle uses to incentivize airlines to use quieter aircraft and fly more quietly is the Fly Quiet Awards. The awards are based on several criteria, including:

  • Noise levels of take-offs and landings
  • Adherence levels to SEA Noise Abatement flight procedures
  • Adherence to SEA ground maintenance engine run-up rules (-100 points for each violation)
  • Limiting noise exceedances during late night hours (from -1 to -5 points for each exceedance)

2023’s annual Fly Quiet Awards were handed out to three airlines, two on their performance and one on their positive developments. Air Canada and Frontier Airlines won the performance awards thanks to newer aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney's GTF engines.

Panning An Alaska Airlines 737 9 MAX Lift-Off From SEA
Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple Flying

Alaska Airlines picked up the third award for development thanks to its fleet renewal with the 737 MAX – an aircraft designed around LEAP engines that have nearly 15% lower fuel consumption than a typical Boeing 737-800 and are quieter.

Read how LEAP Engines enhance the performance of the 737 MAX

As Fagerstrom shared with Simple Flying,

Alaska is undergoing a pretty rapid fleet modernization with their very aggressively introducing the 737 MAX aircraft. Those are aircraft that are that are quieter than the generation before and so we wanted to recognize their efforts at modernizing their fleet. … Any airline that we see that is making positive change we’ll recognize with that third Fly Quiet Award.

Other actions to reduce noise impact

There are other things the Port of Seattle is able to collaborate with airlines and the FAA on to reduce aircraft noise impacts to SEA’s neighbors. One is limiting take-offs from the third runway closest to the community at night.

Air Canada A220
Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Another is working with airlines to have, when possible, continuous taxi to take-offs instead of holding short until the active take-off runway is already clear. This way, the loudest part of the take-off is moved closer to the center of the airport versus the edges.

Additionally, encouragement is given for the use of reverse thrust to be limited. Specific flight paths are also recommended in and out of SEA that help with noise abatement.

What do you think about SEA's work in cutting down noise impact by direct working with airlines? Please share in the comments!

  • New Seattle-Tacoma International SkyBridge Taken From the Air
    Photo: Joe A. Kunzler | Simple Flying
    Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    United States
    Lance Lyttle
    Passenger Count :
    20,061,507 (2020)
    Runways :
    16L/34R - 3,627m (11,901ft) |16C/34C - 2,873m (9,426ft) |16R/34L - 2,591m (8,500ft)