Following Crispin Blunt’s campaign for changes to the Gatwick westerly departure flight route, the modified departure route has finally come into operation today.
The implementation of precision-area navigation (PR-NAV) at Gatwick in 2014 led to a concentrated flight path (Route 4) overflying south Reigate and Redhill, affecting thousands of residents.
Regrettably, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) took far longer than expected to complete the Review of the implementation of PR-NAV. In November 2015, the CAA Board adopted a recommendation to alter departure Route 4, which has come into operation today. This makes the Standard Instrument Departure turning circle tighter and ensures that planes taking off to the west and heading east fly back over the constituency further to the south, avoiding the densely populated urban areas of Reigate and Redhill.
Crispin Blunt commented:
“Today’s change should finally bring relief to residents who have been affected by noise pollution caused by the botched implementation of precision navigation from Gatwick Airport. It is regrettable that it has taken so long to make this correction when the problems were so clear from the start.
“I will monitor the impact of the change and I am expecting the Government to review its policy on aviation noise, including ways of implementing these concentrated satellite guided routes so as to provide for greater dispersal and multiple respites for affected areas. Local airports must work with local communities to manage and alleviate aviation noise. This should be Gatwick’s focus now.
“I continue to call on the Government to come forward with a decision to implement the Airports Commission’s recommendation which rejected Gatwick as a location for a new runway and recommended Heathrow with a package of extensive noise mitigation measures and a ban on night flights. Gatwick’s flawed and rejected second runway proposal would lead to an airport with over half a million flights a year, more than Heathrow currently has and with no measures to mitigate noise for local communities.
“The easterly and westerly departures affecting Reigate and Redhill would have potentially twice as many aircraft movements.
“Unlike Heathrow which alternates the use of its runways for take offs and landings giving local communities guaranteed respite, Gatwick’s proposal is to use two runways for take-offs and landings throughout the day and much of the night. Local residents would have more overflight than West London has today but with no respite from noise whatsoever. There’s no credible case for Gatwick from either a local perspective or in terms of national economic benefits. It is time the Government rejects it definitively.”
“The new P-RNAV routes sit within the airport’s nine Noise Preferential Routes (NPRs) or ‘corridors’ that departing aircraft fly within. Aircraft started flying these modified flight paths in November 2013 and use of P-RNAV on departures became mandatory in May 2014. These routes [were] reviewed (a post implementation review) by the CAA to ensure they are compliant with regulations.
“The departure routes within Route 4 (also known as 26LAM) – an NPR departing from the west before wrapping around 180 degrees to the right to fly out to the east – was not fully compliant as some aircraft were flying outside the northern perimeter of the NPR. We are now making modifications to this route to ensure that aircraft move back inside the NPR.”
“Plane Wrong” critical of CAA’s PIR decision to permit new easterly take-off route to continue
The CAA published its long-awaited Post Implementation Review report in early November. Gatwick is required by the CAA to change one westerly departure route (Route 4) that affects people in many villages to the South of Dorking and across to Reigate and Redhill. This has to revert back to being within the NPR (noise preferential route) as before. Local group, Plane Wrong, set up in response to the noise problems caused, says it welcomes the decision and wants this to be implemented rapidly so that residents do not have to suffer the noise for another summer. Plane Wrong is, however, dismayed at the CAA decision in respect of Route 3, which is not to be changed despite the fact that many more people are significantly affected by the change. This appears to have been entirely ignored. Plane Wrong has considerable doubts about some of the methodologies employed by the CAA to reach both these decisions. On the change to Route 4, Plane Wrong says the changes should be completed quickly, though the CAA has to test the change in simulators for Boeing and Airbus. They do not yet know when this work will take place. There is also a 2 month period that has to elapse after that, and there is no indication yet of when this will end.
The CAA’s disappointing PIR finally published, showing only one Gatwick route to be slightly changed
Since autumn 2013 there have been changes to flight paths for Gatwick airport, given provisional approval by the CAA. Routes have been altered, and flight paths have been more concentrated. This has been done without consultation of affected communities. The CAA has done a PIR (Post Implementation Review) that ended in January. It has finally, after delays, published its findings. These are regarded as very disappointing, as almost no concessions have been made and though hundreds of complaints were sent in, there are few changes to routes. GACC says: “In a 198 page report they devote only 2 pages to the possibility of dispersal – spreading the aircraft over a wider area – and to the possibility of respite – giving people a break from constant noise. And then reject both. We will now need to take the case to the Government and indeed will raise this when we meet the Minister for Aviation, Robert Goodwill MP …on 18 November.” The more concentrated noise has caused great distress for the people unlucky enough to live directly under the flight paths. The only change to a route is one which takes off to the west, and flies over Holmwood, Brockham and Reigate – Gatwick will be consulting on a revised route in the next few months. People are angry that the CAA, yet again, ignores input from the public.