Teddington Action Group show – from Heathrow report – that they are now suffering more aircraft noise
Residents in Twickenham and Teddington have been aware of greatly increased aircraft noise from Heathrow, over the past year. However, Heathrow have for months insisted that the noise has not increased. Now an independent report commissioned and paid for by Heathrow, by PA Consulting has shown that the residents are right. Examining data between November 2011 and May 2015, the report confirms that planes – especially the heavier, noisier types – are flying lower than previously over the area, in greater numbers and concentrated within flight paths. Also that the periods of greatest disruption are increasingly late at night and early in the morning. Rather than being associated with the 2014 Flight Path Trials, which saw record numbers of noise complaints from residents, the report states that these developments merely reflect the general trend of fleet development and air traffic movements. TAG say they have more of the noisiest long haul planes flying over lower than before, sometimes at little more than 2,000 feet in Teddington and 1,400 feet in Twickenham. Worryingly, if this disruption stems from new flight trends, it is only likely to get worse, and for many other areas overflown by Heathrow planes.
Independent report funded by Heathrow finds that Twickenham & Teddington are being subjected to increased levels of aircraft disruption
21.10.2015 (Teddington Action Group)
After many months of Heathrow denying that planes were flying lower (despite testimonies by multiple impacted communities) this report by PA Consulting confirms that aircraft – especially the heavier, noisier types – are flying lower over Teddington and Twickenham, in greater numbers and concentrated within flight paths.
The report establishes that these developments reflect trends in fleet and flight path development; so suggesting the situation is likely to get worse and affect many other areas overflown by Heathrow’s flight paths.
The report : full Teddington/Twickenham analysis report here.
An independent analysis has confirmed that communities around Twickenham and Teddington are being exposed to higher levels of noise disruption from Heathrow’s flight paths, and identified trends in air traffic that suggest it is likely to get worse.
The report, by PA Consulting, published on 15th October, was commissioned and funded by Heathrow, following pressure from the Teddington Action Group.
Examining data between November 2011 and May 2015, it has found that planes are flying overhead in greater concentration, in greater numbers and lower than previously, and that the periods of greatest disruption are increasingly late at night and early in the morning.
Rather than being associated with the 2014 Flight Path Trials, which saw record numbers of noise complaints from residents, the report states that these developments merely reflect the general trend of air traffic movements . (* See note below).
TAG spokesman, Paul McGuinness said:
“In the wake of 2014’s Flight Trials, Heathrow told us that noise disruption would revert to pre trial levels; but this independent report confirms the experience of residents, establishing that communities around Twickenham and Teddington are being exposed to greater levels of noise disruption from Heathrow than ever before. More worrying, the report indicates that this disruption flows from new flight trends, so it’s only likely to get worse”.
The Report entitled “Teddington Flight Path Analysis Final Report” finds:
1. a significant intensification of the use of flight paths over some parts of Twickenham & Teddington
2. that substantially more planes are using the Dover Route, resulting from changes in the airlines’ use of ‘slots’.
3. that air traffic in all 3 overflying routes (Dover, Midhurst and Southampton) have become more concentrated
4. that the average height of planes is lower than before
5. that the fleet is changing – most notably with a marked increase in the use of heavier, noisier planes, notably A380s – and that these fleet changes have already started to make matters worse.
6. that these larger fleet planes (due to their huge size) are being allowed to fly with stepped ascents (contrary to CAA guidance and the presumptions in the Industry Code of Practice 2012). (** See note below).
7. that these lower, noisier departures are being concentrated at the start and end of schedules
TAG spokesman, Paul McGuinness said:
“Not only are the noisiest long haul planes flying over lower than before, sometimes at little more than 2,000 feet in Teddington and 1,400 feet in Twickenham, but there are more of them and they’re flying overhead at the most disruptive times, early in the morning and late at night”
“For those who were nonplussed by the Airport Commission’s decision to exclude areas like Teddington from their Noise Map, this reasoned report, which is actually based on real evidence, makes the Commission’s work look nonsensical and shoddier still”.
Dr Tania Mathias addresses Parliament
On 19th October, local MP, Dr Tania Mathias spoke the following words in the chamber of the House of Commons. (*** See note below).
“It is only because of the Teddington Action Group that a report was produced on 15 October showing the trend even without the trials. The trend is about 83 dB for A380s. As my medical colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell, will know, 57 dB causes medical problems. There is no mitigation for 83 dB. There cannot be mitigation when aircraft are flying at 1,413 feet. There is no mitigation when most of the noise pollution at a medically dangerous level is happening before 8 o’clock in the morning and after 8 o’clock at night.” (Hansard)
The full Adjournment Debate transcript is on Hansard at http://www.publications.
For comment or more information, please contact: Paul McGuinness firstname.lastname@example.org.
* “However, there are underlying trends in the characteristics of the traffic which were observed before the trials and continued after the trials had ended. It is reasonable to conclude, therefore, that these trends are not due to the trials but are more general in nature” (Page 72)
** CAA R&D Report 9841 – and despite the 2012 “Industry Code of Practice” (signed by Heathrow, NATs and major airlines) stating that Stepped Climb Peocedures should not be operated unless absolutely necessary
***Adjournment Debate: Noise From Heathrow, 19.10.15
Dr Tania Mathias’s contribution to the 19th October 2015 Adjournment Debate van be viewed in two parts, on Links:
Page 4 of the report
Teddington and surrounding areas are overflown by three of Heathrow’s departure routes on easterly operations
Midhurst standard instrument departure route (MID SID)
Southampton standard instrument departure route (SAM SID)
Dover standard instrument departure route (DVR SID)
The report’s conclusions:
At the request of the Teddington Action Group flight path analysis has been undertaken on Heathrow easterly departures at three locations of interest
A general observation that for all three SIDs is that there are, sometimes large, fluctuations from day-to-day in the characteristics of and traffic volume using the SIDs. The analysis has attempted to identify any systematic trends underlying these fluctuations.
A second general observation is that the trials resulted in major changes to the distribution of the traffic crossing the gates while the trials were being performed. After the trials the traffic distributions reverted, qualitatively, to very similar structures those observed pre-trial. However, there are underlying trends in the characteristics of the traffic which were
observed before the trials and continued after the trials had ended. It is reasonable to conclude, therefore, that these trends are not due to the trials but are more general in nature.
Of the three, the DVR SID has the highest overall traffic volume, at around 180 per day when the airport is operating to the East. DVR carries the vast majority of the Airport’s A380 easterly departures. Both overall traffic volume and the number of heavy aircraft and A380s using the DVR route have increased. Departures before 08:00 and after 20:00 have increased in line with the underlying increase in traffic volume. However, the volume of these night departures appears to be cyclical: higher in summer than in winter.
The DVR route itself was unaffected by the departure trials, but was affected by the earlier operational freedoms trials from mid-2012 and to early 2013. The SAM traffic crossing the DVR gate was shifted out of the gate during the second trial period. It subsequently returned at the same position and volume after then end of the trial.
The concentration of flights at the core of the DVR traffic swath has increased. The data also indicates that the height of the DVR swath is decreasing both in terms of average height from approximately 3400 feet to 3100 feet, and the lowest flying aircraft. The number of low flying aircraft has increases. On 95% of easterly days the lowest DVR flight crossed the gate at heights between 1600 feet and 2600 feet, with the lowest flight at 1423 feet.
MID and SAM SIDs were affected significantly by the trials
In terms of volume, the MID SID ranks next after DVR. On easterly operations, prior to the second trial period there were just over 100 flights per day using the MID SID. After the second trial this appears to have reduced slightly, to just under 100 flights per day. The route is dominated by medium aircraft at 80% of the total. The remainder of the traffic comprises mainly heavy aircraft with a few A380s.
The position and intensity of the MID SID was affected considerably by the trials with large shifts in the lateral centre of gravity, resulting in flights over locations not previously overflown. After the end of the trials, the MID swath returned to its pre-trial location but the concentration of flights within the swath has increased. Although the vertical position of the centre of gravity of the swath has remained consistent, there is a trend indicating that the lowest flying aircraft have got lower. The frequency of days with low flying aircraft has also increased.
SAM SID traffic is typically at a level of around 35 to 40 flights per day, comprised of approximately 20% heavy aircraft and 80% medium aircraft with a few A380s. During the trials, the MID SID traffic was shifted to within the SAM gate resulting in an increase in traffic crossing the gate. The changes to both the SAM and MID SID locations during the trial resulted in a redistribution of traffic across the SAM gate. After the trials, the SAM traffic patterns reverted to their pre-trial structures but exhibit slightly higher concentration than before the trials. There is a downward underlying trend in the height of the SAM SID swath, both in terms of the centre of gravity, reducing from 3400 feet to 3200 feet, and the lowest flights, reducing from 2300 feet to 2000 feet. The frequency of the number of days with low flying aircraft has also increased.
Heathrow airport says:
Teddington and Twickenham flight analysis 2015
New independent analysis for Teddington and Twickenham published
Heathrow has published the analysis carried out by an independent consultant on the three departure routes affecting the areas of Teddington and Twickenham, known as Dover (DVR), Midhurst (MID), and Southampton (SAM). This analysis is the first in a series of reports and is part of a new monitoring programme to review patterns of aircraft over particular communities. This programme was launched in coordination with the Community Noise Forum following concerns about the effects of the airspace trials last year.
The analysis confirms that aircraft have reverted to using the departure routes used before the airspace trials last year and that no new areas are being overflown. However, it does show that over the analysis period (2011-2015) there have been changes in the number, type, altitude and concentration of aircraft within the existing departure routes which may impact people’s experience of noise.
The analysis confirms the following:
- Numbers: The numbers of aircraft per day using two of the three routes flying over the area have remained consistent over the past 4 years. Because of changes to flight schedules and destinations, since the winter season 2014/15 there has been an increase of traffic on the Dover route with up to 30 aircraft more per day compared to 2011, an average increase of around 2 flights per hour.
- Aircraft types: The number of large ‘heavy’ aircraft has increased on the Dover route and remained consistent on the other two. For example, A380s are up from 4 per day in 2011 to between 11 and 14 per day in 2015.
- Altitude: Across the three routes, the lowest aircraft within the noise preferential routes are getting lower by around 200-300 feet (i.e. around 10% lower than in 2011).
- Concentration: Across the three routes, aircraft are more concentrated in particular parts of the noise preferential route and the corridors in which aircraft fly within those noise preferential routes have generally become narrower. This follows a trend that has been seen over time with advances in navigational technology.
We will now work with airline and industry partners, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and the Government to understand why some aircraft, particularly large aircraft, are lower and what this means from a noise perspective.
Through the Community Noise Forum we are undertaking similar analysis over other areas and will share these results publicly on-line.
You can download the full Teddington/Twickenham analysis report here.
Q & A
Why are there more aircraft using the Dover route?
The decision about which of the six departure routes aircraft take is dictated primarily by the destination of the flight. For example the rise in popularity of destinations in the Far East such as Dubai has meant a shift in the routes airlines use. There are also a number of other factors that influence which route an airline selects including international situations; the availability of the route (for example if airspace en-route is closed due to ATC strikes) and the route charges (countries charge airlines for flying through their airspace). Heathrow currently has no power to dictate which route the airline uses.
Why do the majority of A380s departing from Heathrow use the Dover route?
It’s because they’re flying to destinations that are best served by this route, such as the UAE. A380s are replacing older and noisier 747s on these long haul routes.
What are the reasons for the trend in aircraft being lower over this area?
We’ll need to investigate the reasons for this and work with our airlines partners about how we can improve the noise climate for residents.
Are there rules regarding the altitude of aircraft on departure?
Yes, the rules are set by the Government and Heathrow is responsible for monitoring compliance of these.
The rules state that:
- After take-off aircraft must reach 1000ft at 6.5km from ‘start of roll’ (the departure)
- After passing this point the aircraft shall maintain a gradient of climb not less than 4% to an altitude of not less than 4000ft and
- Aircraft must stay within the departure route (NPR) to 4,000ft.
Heathrow monitors airlines’ compliance of these rules through its Noise and Track Keeping system.
Why are flights more concentrated in particular parts of the departure routes?
The concentration on some of the routes is not unexpected as advances in navigational technology over time means the corridors in which aircraft fly below 4,000ft have generally become narrower. This is a trend that has been seen over the past decade.
Factors such as aircraft type, weight and weather conditions can also determine how aircraft perform within a corridor.
More information about the Community Noise Forum can be found here.
Heathrow used to have a page on the “myths” about plane noise. It has been taken down from their website, but an archived copy found.
Myths about noise
There are many myths about aircraft noise. These are the ones we hear most often.
The airport opens later at the weekend
Not true. Planes start landing and taking off at the same time every day. The first plane lands at about 4:30am and the last plane leaves around 11pm. See more on Arrivals flight pathsand Departures flight paths.
Planes don’t come into land over Windsor Castle when the queen is there
Not true. The direction planes land in is purely dependent on wind direction. See more on wind direction.
Planes fly lower than they used to
Not true. But there are now bigger planes such as the Airbus A380 which can appear lower to people on the ground. Planes landing at Heathrow come in on a 3 degrees angle of approach and this hasn’t changed. The combination of altitude and temperature can sometimes affect the performance of planes as they take off, for example hot weather can affect a plane’s ability to climb as quickly as normal. See more on Arrivals flight paths and Departures flight paths.
The pilots fly where they want
Not true. That would be unsafe and planes are carefully managed by Air Traffic Control to ensure safety. About 98% of all planes leaving Heathrow follow set flight paths and we’ve worked with the airlines to make sure this number is much higher than it used to be. See more on Departures flight paths.
There are less planes on a Sunday
Not true. There are the same number of flights every day – about 1,300 flights in total in and out of the airport. Except for Christmas Day when the number is more like 500. See more on Arrivals flight paths and Departures flight paths.
The airport only flies on easterly operations when it is hot
Not true, although the easterly winds often bring the nice weather. We’re just as likely to be operating on easterlies when it is very cold and the wind is coming in from Siberia. See more on wind direction
You are always changing flight paths
Not true. The flight paths were set many years ago and have not changed. However, UK airspace is being modernised over the next few years which may mean changes to flight paths. See more on Departures flight paths.
Planes are not allowed to fly at night
Not true. Heathrow has very strict rules about the types and numbers of planes that can use the airport at night. About 16 planes are allowed to land every day between 4:30 and 6am. Some flights may leave later than the last scheduled departure at 10:50pm. See more on night flights.
Every year Heathrow has more and more flights
Not true. Heathrow is at full capacity and has been operating approximately 480,000 flights a year for about 10 years now. We are legally not allowed to have more than this. See more on operational data.
Noise has got worse at Heathrow
Not true. While the number of planes has nearly doubled since the 1970s, the planes are quieter than they were then and consequently the noise footprint of Heathrow has shrunk. See more on measuring noise.