At the airport of Toussus-le-Noble, this flying school is committed to a quieter air

“Who has barbecued in their living room this weekend to prevent noise pollution?! The question is posed by the Associative Alliance on its Facebook page. This collective, which brings together some forty associations of local residents, is committed to eliminating the “noise pollution” caused by the airport of Toussus-le-Noble (Yvelines).

Pie charts, bar charts, route maps, house location tool to monitor noise levels… A real bible for residents, the Associative Alliance website constantly analyzes the activity of this airport. For example, the statistics put forward make it possible to discover that between July 2021 and the end of May 2022, 88,129,228 overflights of buildings were recorded.

The noise impact of this airport – the fourth largest in France in terms of aircraft movements behind Roissy (Val-d’Oise), Orly (Val-de-Marne) and Nice (Alpes Maritimes) – has mobilized residents and local elected officials to over forty years. Last April, ten resolutions were passed following an advisory committee initiated by the prefecture of Yvelines. A few months later, a transport ministry order added three measures to strengthen the restrictions. “Insufficient”, the associations repeatedly regret.

Every year 150 aviation pilots graduate here

This time it is a flying school that participates. Astonfly, the largest training center in France, has been located at Toussus airport since 2004. Its founder, pilot Charles Clair, presented the “Silent Sky” project this Saturday. As the English term implies, it is a matter of working on a “silent sky”, with a series of obligations.

“Our company is the first manufacturer of sound here and we have not waited for pressure from local residents to think, emphasizes Charles Clair to an audience made up of residents and local elected officials. It is a voluntary process. Today we must face the challenges of the aviation of the future.”

Toussus-le-Noble Airport (Yvelines), June 4, 2022. 90% of Astonfly’s activity is devoted to pilot training.

90% of Astonfly’s activity is devoted to training future airline pilots, mainly those of Ryanair. Every year 150 pilots graduate, after 24 months of practical and theoretical training. In order to focus the activity on its “core business”, the flight school commits to completely eliminate from 1 January 2023 the “leisure rental”, ie aircraft used by non-professional pilots.

The training center has thirty-two aircraft, most of them single-engine Cessna 172. “It’s over, we will never expand the fleet again,” Astonfly’s president assures. We will send you all registrations: if you want to take photos for checking, you can! †

Some electric motors by 2025

So thirty-two planes. And another commitment: to equip all Cessnas with noise reduction. These mufflers reduce the perception of sound by 50%. “That’s about six decibels less, isn’t it? A resident asks from her chair. But what exactly does it represent? The sound of a vacuum cleaner? From a coffee machine?”. Smile in the room.

“There you have to contact an acoustics slice Patrick Milward, the general manager of Astonfly. But at our level, apart from leaving the plane in the hangar, we couldn’t do better. All models that cannot be fitted with silencers will be removed from our fleet.”

When pilots with electric aircraft can complete their vocational training, ie when their flight autonomy will exceed 300 km, Astonfly commits to invest in electric aviation by 2025 to replace its single-engine fleet.

Meanwhile, the training school is “preparing the ground”: in the coming months, a hangar that hitherto housed helicopters will be converted into a maintenance center, with equipment for the maintenance of electric aircraft. A parking lot for charging these modern single-engine aircraft is also in preparation.

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