PENSHURST PARISH COUNCIL.
M A Knowles report on the Noise Seminar at Gatwick Airport on 19 March
I attended Gatwick Airport Ltd.’s Annual Noise Seminar held at the airport on 19 March. Although these affairs tend to be a self-congratulatory pat on the back from the airport’s chief executive (Stewart Wingate) and his underlings it did enable me to confront them on a number of issues.
Stewart Wingate opened the meeting by extolling all the good things about the airport’s operations: modern quiet jets; few people affected by aircraft noise, consultation procedures with stakeholders such as the London Airspace Consultation etc. He was also pleased to announce that fewer people (up to 65% amounting to around 450,000 – 500,000) would be affected by overflying aircraft and all benefitting by a new departure system known as Precision Area Navigation (P-RNAV for short). This will replace the current system known as ‘standard instrument departure routes’ (the airport using the unfortunate acronym for this as SIDS). All this means is that some hapless individuals will find a concentration of aircraft departing overhead on narrower flight paths due to new technology almost, in my opinion, in line with the proposals in the London Airspace Consultation. I was able to congratulate Mr Wingate on his refreshing approach as it was the first time we had heard the chief executive admit exactly how many people were actually affected by overflying aircraft from Gatwick Airport and if my calculation were correct he is actually admitting there are around 800,000. I asked further how that reconciled with the ANCON 57dBa contours that are used to convince everyone that only a few thousand people are affected – as far as compensation is concerned. A bit of waffle from the CEO quickly closed that particular questions and answers session.
I was also able to take issue with Alistair Wilson (easyJet Flight Operations Regulatory Affairs Captain) over the debilitating whine from their feet of Airbus A 319/320/321 series of aircraft. We heard that easyJet were evaluating the proposed modifications and would reach a decision as regards their own aircraft as and when all the data had been received. He also confirmed what we already knew in that 85 of their Airbus jets were being replaced and deliveries from May would have the underwing modification to suppress the airframe noise that is so persistent on the long approach to landing.
There was no comfort from Kate Jennings (Head of Aviation Policy Implementation, Department for Transport) that anything will be done about night flights in the foreseeable future save to protect the status quo in favour of current operations. The ANCON Leq 57dBa contour was briefly mentioned by her, and other presenters, but you had the distinct impression that this was a mystical subject best left undiscussed like “ The Emperor’s’ New Clothes.’’
John Byng of GACC made an impassioned plea for all those things we put on our Father Christmas list: no second runway, no low flying aircraft, no night flights, no point merge and a chance of a second consultation when flight paths are determined – et al. John had hoped to cross swords with the last published speaker – Andy Taylor, who is the Manager of Air Traffic Control. Andy couldn’t make it and the subject was cancelled. This was to be about National Air Traffic Services, known as NATS. As NATS was the message we took away it would seem an appropriate place to close my report on the seminar advertised as “noise seminar – giving noise a priority. They certainly did that!
The formal report as produced by GAL for the serious student of airport seminars is as follows:
Gatwick Airport, the Government, airlines, ATC and aircraft and engine manufacturers have all been listening to people who have questions about noise and are continuously working to reduce the noise levels at the airport.
As an industry, the four main things we are doing are:
1. Designing airframes and engines to reduce noise generation.
2. Tightening the regulations on noise.
3. Improving the way planes and airports operate.
4. Providing noise insulation and compensation for people who experience high levels of noise.
Fly Quiet and Clean is a unique framework that pulls together all our noise initiatives. Launched at our noise seminar in December 2012, it includes both on-going initiatives and new thinking. The nine components of Fly Quiet &Clean are:
Airport Collaborative Decision Making aims to improve the operational efficiency of all airport operators by reducing delays, increasing the predictability of events during a flight and optimising resources. This in turn then provides the best environmental solutions and reduces noise and emissions for aircraft on the ground and in the air. More information is available at www.eurocontrol.int
This piece of work involves Gatwick and NATS, the air traffic services provider, working together to look at how the airspace directly affecting Gatwick flights can be better managed with more direct routes and better ways of operating. The result will be reduced noise and emissions.
Precise Area Navigation (P-RNAV)
Precision based satellite navigation is the ability of an aircraft’s flight management system to navigate by means of waypoints defined by latitude and longitude, rather than by conventional ground based navigational aids.
Airline operators and the CAA are eager for the potential advantages offered by existing equipment to be fully exploited. The deployment of P-RNAV will realise a number of operational benefits, depending on the type of P-RNAV application and the target environment. These could include controller and pilot workload, improved situational awareness, noise reduction, reduced emissions, fuel savings and reduced engine maintenance costs. The P-RNAV standard is intended for airspace around airports and requires that an aircraft is capable of trackkeeping accuracy of ±1 nautical miles for 95% of its flight time. Further information can be found at www.nats.co.uk
Airlines are an essential part of our quiet and clean story, as they are fundamental to achieiving noise reduction. Our aim is to continue to work with our airlines to help them improve the way they fly through collaborative working, trials and by sharing best practice.
Noise Action Plan (NAP)
The NAP is an evolving five-year plan for how Gatwick manages noise which was adopted by the Secretary of State for Transport in 2010. The NAP sets out how we manage noise not only on a day-to-day basis, but also in the medium and longer term. View our NAP.
Departures and Arrivals Codes of Practice
The Departures and Arrivals Codes of Practice are collaborative initiatives driven by Sustainable Aviation and its member organisations. Many years of work, including trials, modeling and data analysis have developed best practice methods for arriving and departing aircraft. These have been identified and implemented throughout airlines in order to reduce noise and emissions.
Quiet and Clean Innovation Group
The Quiet and Clean Innovation Group is a dedicated team looking at creating ground-breaking solutions within our Fly Quiet and Clean programme. The group is technical in nature with a membership comprising airlines, NATS and the regulator, and is distinct from our Noise and Track Monitoring Advisory Group and the Flight Operations Safety Committee.
Sustainable Aviation is an essential link within our programme because of its reputation within industry. You can find out more about them at www.sustainableaviation.co.uk
Technology is improving all the time and will, in time, further improve the impacts of the aviation industry. Advancements in aircraft design, the overall strategic UK and European wide airspace management, together with forward thinking within the aviation industry are all key components to the future of noise management for us.