Noise respite trials on areas of Heathrow flight paths – results due in the autumn
Between November 2012 and March 2013, NATS conducted a trial (in association with BA and HACAN) of providing defined periods of noise respite to people living directly under the Heathrow flight paths. NATS says this is an example of using air traffic control to help reduce the burden of aircraft. The Heathrow noise respite trial explored routeing the 16 – 17 flights that arrive at Heathrow each morning between 4.30am and 6.00am. There were defined zones in the approach area above London and over Berkshire that were ‘active’ sequentially week by week. Pilots were directed by air traffic controllers to avoid flying through the zone that was active for that particular week. There were inner and outer quiet zones were established for each of the two runways which resulted in eight zones in total. Diagram below shows how the zones worked. The results, including community responses, will be available in the autumn and will indicate whether such noise respite would be beneficial in future.
20 June 2013 (Blog by Ian Jopson, of NATS)
We’re very aware of the impact aircraft noise has on those who live under flight paths. That’s why we work with airports and airlines to help them minimise the effect of noise and provide respite in the vicinity of the airport.
New, quieter engines and smarter procedures are helping, and Sustainable Aviation’s recently published Noise Road Map sets out how traffic levels can continue to grow to 2050, without any increase in noise.
Noise Respite Trial at Heathrow
But there are also practical things that we can be doing now. Last year we started a trial at Heathrow designed to provide defined periods of noise respite to people living directly under the flight path. The concept was formed in partnership with the noise community group HACAN, BA and the airport itself.
On average, around 16-17 flights arrive at Heathrow each morning between 4.30am and 6.00am. The trial explored whether routeing these flights in a more defined way – particularly at the beginning of their approach into Heathrow – could offer more predictability for the people living below.
The trial, which began in November 2012, had defined zones in the approach area above London and over Berkshire that were ‘active’ sequentially week by week. Pilots were directed by our controllers to avoid flying through the zone that was active for that particular week.
Inner and outer quiet zones were established for each of the two runways which resulted in eight zones in total (four over West London and four above Berkshire for east/west operations). The active areas appeared as shaded boxes on controllers’ displays which were to be avoided unless in exceptional conditions or for safety reasons, for example, in the event of low visibility.
Trial now complete, results in the Autumn
The trial, which completed at the end of March, is a good example of the importance of air traffic management in tackling noise. The results, including community responses, will be available in the autumn. We’re looking forward to seeing the results and understanding better how we can shape air traffic management to tackle the issue of noise.
The diagram below shows the noise relief zones trialled. Click to enlarge it.
Find our more about our Environmental work and Corporate Responsibility programme at http://www.nats.co.uk/environment.
These trials are different to the Operational Freedoms trials at Heathrow.
Operational freedoms trial at Heathrow to end a month early, on 28th February
January 24, 2013 Operational Freedom trials at Heathrow started in November 2011 and ended in February 2012. The second phase of the trial started in July 2012 and due to go on until the end of March 2013. In November 2012, BAA announced that two parts of the trails would not take place (Phase 2, Operational Freedoms 2 and 3 – about delaying flights from 4.30 to 5.00am in exchange for more flights from 5.30am to 6am; and re-directing departing aircraft from their route sooner after take-off). Simon Burns has now announced that the trials will end a month early, on 28 February 2013. Some specific tests scheduled for March will be brought forward into February, which will accommodate the space left behind by the early morning arrivals freedom being inoperable during the trial period. Simon Burns says: “The revised end date will enable the overall analysis of the trial to begin sooner and support the government’s objective, as announced in the Autumn Statement, to bring forward the consultation and final decisions by ministers on whether an operational freedoms regime of some form should be adopted on a more permanent basis at Heathrow.” Click here to view full story…