Heathrow aircraft noise must be cut says Henley MP, John Howell
The MP for Henley, John Howell, has called for a “significant reduction” in noise from aircraft over the Henley area. With other MPs from Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Surrey he had a meeting with representatives from Heathrow and NATS about the increased noise problem they are experiencing. Mr Howell has had complaints from constituents about increased noise from aircraft coming into land at Heathrow, particularly when there was an easterly wind, when planes circled over Henley. Martin Rolfe, chief executive of NATS, “accepted that increased aircraft noise was a problem for some people” and agreed to investigate individual issues of serious disturbance if they were reported to him by the MPs. [Whatever that will achieve]. Mr Rolfe said there had been no changes to routes but that the flight patterns within controlled airspace changed almost daily. This is the standard thing the airspace management bodies say. People overflown know they experience a change. The CAA etc use semantics to say this is not technically a change, but just a difference in how a route is flown. One of the key improvements in how the airspace change is managed is to recognise and accept that changes to fleet mix, intensity of use of a route, height of planes and times of day are all changes. They have to in future be acknowledged as such, and taken into account fully in the process.
Aircraft noise must be cut, says Henley MP, John Howell
27.6.2016 (Henley Standard)
JOHN HOWELL has called for a “significant reduction” in noise from aircraft over the Henley area.
The Henley MP was speaking after a meeting between a group of MPs from Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Surrey with representatives from Heathrow Airport and NATS, which is responsible for air traffic control.
Mr Howell said it had to be acknowledged that there had been an increase in the amount of air traffic.
He had received complaints from constituents about increased noise from aircraft coming into land at Heathrow, particularly when there was an easterly wind which meant the planes circled over Henley.
Martin Rolfe, chief executive of NATS, accepted that increased aircraft noise was a problem for some people and agreed to investigate individual issues of serious disturbance if they were reported to him by the MPs.
He said there had been no changes to routes but that the flight patterns within controlled airspace changed almost daily.
Apart from wind direction, there were many reasons why flights paths varied, including weather, industrial action overseas and pressure on airspace.
Mr Rolfe said a review of airspace across the South-East was being carried out and would include asking pilots to fly aircraft higher more quickly and to move to holding points higher and further out.
The review would take several years and would include public consultation. [See timetable of CAA consultation etc below].
Airlines were being incentivized to invest in quieter planes. More noisy planes at Heathrow paid higher landing charges.
The meeting heard that the aviation industry was working on new technologies to help reduce noise but updating fleets took years due to the cost and lead times.
Heathrow already imposes higher landing charges on noisier planes as an incentive with the result that airlines tend to use their quieter planes going to and from the airport.
Mr Howell said: “NATS gave a good explanation but what we really want to see is a return to the former situation or, better still, a significant reduction in noise over the Henley constituency.
“Of course the aircraft passing over the constituency are not only going to and from Heathrow. A complex web of many flights passes over the area every day.
“In order to get a better understanding of this and the issues around it, I will be visiting the air traffic control tower in the near future.
“This is an important issue and one which we will need to watch as we seek to balance environmental concerns with the increasing demand for travel.”
Below is the CAA’s anticipated timeline of changes to UK airspace
from P.111 of CAA consultation document
Anticipated timelines for reviewing the airspace change process 2016
March to June 2016
CAA public consultation on proposed changes to the airspace change process. Responses to the consultation are published on the CAA website.
June to July 2016
The CAA assesses the responses to the consultation and develops a plan for implementation of any changes to the process that we have decided on.
The CAA announces the outcome of the consultation and will commence the work that needs to be done prior to the future implementation of a revised process. This will include our public response to the consultation and evidence received, and the development of guidance and other documentation or processes as necessary.
The CAA sets out in its annual charging scheme consultation the way it intends to recover costs for administering the airspace change process in the form of charges for 2017/18.
January to March 2017
The CAA consults on the text of a draft replacement for CAP 725 CAA Guidance on the Application of the Airspace Change Process. This will include the additional guidance material on different aspects of the process referred to in Chapter 5. We will at the same time indicate when any changes to the process will take effect, and how we will manage transition arrangements between the old and new process.
Earliest that a new CAA charging scheme to finance a revised airspace change process will come into effect. The CAA publishes a final version of the replacement for CAP 725 CAA Guidance on the Application of the Airspace Change Process
April or later in 2017
Implementation date of any new process.
CAA and airspace change clarification
Some comments by the Aviation Environment Federation, in their response to the CAA consultation on CAP 725 on airspace change, and on how what constitutes a change in airspace needs to be clarified.
The AEF says:
…”the way in which flight paths are used, and when they are flown, is at least as important as the position of those flight paths on a map in terms of noise impacts. These factors – such as numbers and type of aircraft and, to a lesser extent perhaps, the use of the use of continuous climb and continuous descent operations – are largely outside the CAA’s control. We are concerned that a flight path change could be approved on the basis of a particular forecast in terms of traffic movements being considered acceptable in terms of noise impact without any clear mechanism for the CAA to enforce such usage (in contrast to the way planning conditions on aircraft infrastructure operate), or to repeal approval of a flight path if, for example, usage is more intensive than originally anticipated.
Some of the changes on which information should be included are:
Intensity and nature of flightpath use
• Anticipated numbers of aircraft under a range of possible scenarios.
• Height of aircraft.
• An indication where the aircraft are going to fly within the boundaries of the route.
• Runway and flight path respite; any runway alternation (with information where relevant on historical alternation patterns).
• Anticipated aircraft types.
• Operational procedures assumed (continuous climb/descent for example); any nonstandard procedures being considered eg curved approaches.
• Impact of different weather conditions (notably wind direction) on how a route is likely to be flown.