Zurich Residents Filing Noise Complaints About Swiss Air's 'Whisperjet'
In an effort to circumvent noise pollution, Swiss International Air Lines ordered a fleet of Airbus SE A220 "Whisperjets" — a move that is now coming back to haunt the airline. Zurich residents have filed numerous complaints with the Zurich Airport (ZRH), and now Swiss is in the process of working out a solution with Airbus.
The planes were developed by Bombardier Inc. and were designed to reduce noise by 50% when compared to older aircraft. However, residents have complained via the airport's noise hotline about the disturbances, which apparently sound similar to the "mating call of an orca whale." According to the airline, the noise occurs occasionally "during throttle movements when A220 is at low power," a spokeswoman for engine maker Pratt & Whitney told Bloomberg.
Residents complain that the noise is especially a problem during landing. Klaus Stoehlker, spokesman for the Zurich-based Foundation Against Aircraft Noise, tells Bloomberg the plane is ironically "even louder than other machines flying in." Despite Swiss promising that the noise is "temporary while they make assessments," it's been nine months with no relief.
Complaints aside, the plane "isn’t breaching rules and the sound, which last for a few seconds, hasn’t triggered higher fees that apply to louder jets," reports Bloomberg. The Pratt spokeswoman added that "the jet’s total noise footprint still represents a 75 percent improvement on older planes."
Both Swiss and Airbus are working to rectify the situation quickly, and are "in close contact with engine maker Pratt & Whitney, which is analyzing the noise" to find the source. As of now, the problem seems to only affect select A220 models.