EL Al plane
EL Al planeIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Israel didn't win any medals in the London Summer Olympics last year, but according to the officials at Heathrow Airport, El Al won a less prestigious award. The Israeli flagship carrier came in second in the “most noisy” contest that measures the decibel levels of the planes that fly into and out of the airport. El Al's planes were noisier than any other carrier's, except for Lot Polish Airlines.

The list was published as part of Heathrow's “Fly Quiet” campaign, in which carriers are encouraged to upgrade their equipment to quiet the engines of older planes. While not in a residential area, there are numerous neighborhoods near Heathrow where residents have complained about noise from planes coming in at late hours.

The study counted decibel levels, and took into account age of the planes, size, routes, angle of descent and takeoff (a result of the route) and other things that could impact the ratings. Carriers were awarded green, yellow, and red ratings on three parameters, including noise, impact on the surroundings, and age of aircraft. El Al received two red and one yellow rating.

The quietest planes belonged to British Airways, the study showed, followed by Virgin Atlantic – both British carriers.

In a statement, El Al admitted that it had a “noise problem. In recent months we have retired several older plane, and we are in the process of acquiring newer planes and renewing our fleet. We recently acquired several 737-900 planes which will not only improve the experience for passengers on board, but will ensure quieter landings and takeoffs.”