Airport study is breath of fresh air

Plane taking off at Newcastle Airport Engineers from the Faculty of Engineering  have chosen Newcastle International Airport as the ideal place to study how planes affect air quality as they take off and land. For many years it has been known that aircraft emissions can have a negative effect and extensive research has been carried out in South East England, but limited information has been available for regional airports – until now.
Newcastle International Airport is working with academics from the University of Leeds aviation department to see exactly how the exhaust from jet engines influences the air quality in surrounding communities. Since August 2011, state-of-the-art monitoring equipment has been positioned on the airfield to continuously check a number of factors including the levels of nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide and oxygen. And with six months of data collected, the results are now being analysed as part of wider national project. Dr Darron Dixon-Hardy and Dr Hu Li, members of the aviation staff at the Energy Research Institute, are leading the research along with Helen Hughes, the airport’s Environmental Adviser.

The research will contribute to a better understanding of aircraft emissions and their impact on air quality at medium-sized airports in particular. It is hoped the joint  research will provide an insight into what contributes to airborne pollution and allow new ways of controlling and dispersing it.

Dr Dixon-Hardy said; “We’ve been monitoring aircraft emissions at a location very close to Newcastle’s runway using state-of-the- art equipment. Results so far indicate that prevailing wind conditions dominate the dispersal of aircraft emissions and show that Newcastle Airport does not have a significant impact on local air quality. “Newcastle Airport is forward-thinking in addressing the need to work with the university and we would like to thank them for offering us the opportunity.” Learning more about the impact of aircraft emissions at regional airports is becoming increasingly important as they make up the majority of the 50-plus airports in the UK and existing studies have mainly concentrated on air quality in neighborhoods, rather that at the pollutants’ source.

Helen Hughes, the airport’s environmental adviser, said: “The expertise and knowledge brought by Leeds University will provide Newcastle Airport with valuable information on local air quality. “We are delighted with the partnership, and the results so far. The airport has been monitoring air quality levels for more than 10 years across 22 separate locations on site. “This project will increase our knowledge in this area so we can monitor how we impact on our local community.” The academics will analyse the results and provide a report at the end of the study .