El Al Cargo Planes, IAF Responsible for Most Noise Pollution

According to a noise and route monitoring report prepared by the Israel Airports Authority, El Al planes were the worst noise polluters in 2006, exceeding allowable noise levels during 222 takeoffs and generating 44.5 percent of all excess noise pollution incidents at Ben-Gurion Airport that year. The Israel Air Force was rated the second worst noise polluter, exceeding allowable noise levels in 194 incidents - 38.9 percent of all incidents in 2006.

Most incidents of excess noise in the past two years (2005 and 2006) were generated by El Al's older Boeing 747-200 cargo planes. IAF planes which exceeded allowable noise levels were primarily Boeing 707s, even though their motors have been fitted with silencing systems.

According to the annual report, the monitoring system registered and processed 40,517 takeoffs in 2006, including privately owned and IAF aircraft. A total of 499 takeoffs registered by the monitoring system as exceeding allowable noise levels were generated by 19 different airlines and the IAF.

Noise level deviations occurred in an average of 1.3 percent of all takeoffs in 2006, identical to the levels of 2005. More incidents were registered during the first months of the year due to closure of a main runway (26-08) for upgrading works.

This closure resulted in changes in the operation format and a increase in noise deviations, as well as temporary, heavy noise pollution levels in areas where one normally cannot hear noise, such as Lod, Rishon Letzion and in the villages southeast of Ben-Gurion Airport.

On the other hand, operation from Runway 12 substantially alleviated noise levels in the areas of Holon, Beit Dagan, Hemed and Ganot, according to the annual report.

Vice President of Operations Lior Yavor responded that, "El Al conducts more than 50 percent of all takeoffs at Ben-Gurion Airport. The noise was generated by the company's Boeing 747-200 cargo planes."

Yavor insisted, "In spite of its large proportion of takeoffs at Ben-Gurion Airport, El Al's passenger planes were responsible for almost none of the excess noise incidents. Those that did occur were linked to problematic weather conditions that necessitated the use of alternative routes than those dictated."