Heathrow publishes commitments on noise reduction measures, such as ranking airlines on noise
Heathrow Airport has put forward proposals that aim at “reducing aircraft noise while safeguarding the UK’s connectivity”. These come in a report entitled “A quieter Heathrow” with the aim of defusing opposition to another runway (or two) by attempting to make Heathrow, as it is, a little less noisy for those who are now overflown. Heathrow’s efforts to cut noise come under the headings of quieter planes, quieter operating procedures, noise mitigation and land-use planning, operating restrictions and working with local communities. Heathrow says it will rank airlines according to how noisy their aircraft are; it will increase fines for airlines that break noise limits; it will try new plane departure routes and steeper approaches. Plans also include establishing a new noise insulation scheme for homes and offices around Heathrow. In reality, though new planes produced today are slightly quieter than older ones, the difference are not large. What those overflown notice is the sheer number of noise events. HACAN welcomed the programme of noise reductions but – the huge increase in flight numbers from a new runway “would almost certainly outweigh the benefits these measures will bring.”
Heathrow to rank airlines on noise pollution
Bosses at London’s Heathrow Airport are to rank airlines according to how noisy their aircraft are as part of a plan to try to make the area quieter.
Heathrow chiefs also want to increase fines for airlines that break noise limits and try new plane departure routes and steeper approaches.
Plans also include establishing a new noise insulation scheme for homes and offices around Heathrow.
A Fly Quiet programme is to begin later this year.
Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN) welcomed the programme but said residents were still opposed to the prospect of expanding the airport.
‘Matter of contention’
Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews said: “Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise and, as a result, even though the number of flights has almost doubled since the 1970s, fewer people are affected by noise.”
A report published by the Independent Transport Commission on Wednesday on the future of Britain’s aviation infrastructure highlighted the fact that the area around Heathrow is more densely populated than Stansted or Gatwick.
It said, at the moment, the noisiest aircraft may not be scheduled to land or take off during the “night period” (23:00 to 07:00) and during the “night quota period” (23:30 to 06:00) aircraft movements are limited both by number and by a noise quota.
It added: “The noise from these early-morning, long-haul arrivals has long been a matter of contention for households around Heathrow.”
Last month, at a protest against the possibility of expanding Heathrow, west London residents spoke of the noise from early-morning flights.
John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, said: “These measures are welcome and will improve the noise climate for residents.
“But all the good work could be undone if a third runway was built and the huge increase in flight numbers would almost certainly outweigh the benefits these measures will bring.”
Councillor Colin Ellar, deputy leader of Hounslow Council, said: “It looks as though Heathrow is beginning to listen to the council and residents who have said loudly and clearly in our consultation that they want a better not bigger Heathrow.”
Heathrow to name and shame noisy airlines
Heathrow airport plans to name and shame noisy airlines for the first time.
30 May 2013 (Telegraph)
Airlines found guilty of breaking noise limits will also face bigger fines in excess of £1,000, under plans published on Thursday.
The airport, which is the focus of a fierce debate over whether it should be allowed to build extra runways, has unveiled a series of proposals to reduce the impact of noise on local communities.
It plans to rank the 80 airlines that use Heathrow according to how much noise their aircraft produce during take-off and publish a league table every three months via its website.
Heathrow is also in discussions with airlines over a more draconian regime of fines if aircraft break the maximum number of decibels allowed during certain times of the day.
The two-runway airport said its new noise reduction measures are part of ongoing efforts to work with local communities.
However, the proposals are likely to be seen as a charm offensive ahead of a renewed expansion campaign. Heathrow recently told the Government-backed Airports Commission that a third runway would be sufficient to solve Britain’s aviation capacity problems for the “foreseeable future”.
Noise produced by aircraft using Heathrow affects more people than any other airport in Europe. The impact on local communities has been a major sticking point in the airport’s campaign for expansion.
Colin Matthews, the chief executive of Heathrow, insisted the measures are “not about adding new runways at Heathrow”.
But he added: “Heathrow recognises if it is to grow, a comprehensive package of measures to tackle noise will need to be put forward to ensure there does not have to be a choice between more flights or less noise.”
Heathrow argues that it is “significantly quieter” than it was four decades ago and improvements in technology will lead to aircraft becoming quieter still. The new generation of planes, including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A380, have been designed to reduce noise.
Heathrow is also testing other potential ways of minimising noise, such as aircraft landing at a steeper angle so they don’t fly so close above residential areas.
A new scheme to better insulate schools is also under consideration and the airport is working with the national air traffic control service NATS to test different departure routes.
Fines for aircraft that break maximum noise levels currently range between £500 and £1,000. Maximum levels are set according to the time of day, with fewer decibels allowed during the night.
Comments under the article :
It is not just schools that suffer the noise nuisance! Anyone living near the flight path let alone under the flight path have their days and nights routinely disturbed by excessive aircraft noise. No platitudes or meaningless consultations will alter the fact that it is just unacceptable. It is completely impractical to insulate homes and schools and business premises to a level that excludes aircraft noise. Indeed, why should people living under or near the flight path have to keep their windows shut all day and all night and be denied the enjoyment of their gardens or nearby parks because of excessive noise from aircraft?
and another says:
Two new less noisy planes will not replace the thousands of older noisier models… also steeper landings will be unpopular with passengers and also dictated by wind and weather conditions which will largely outlaw them!
This is just a pre-sell to gain support… but it will fail!
and another says:
” The new generation of planes, including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and
the Airbus A380, have been designed to reduce noise.”
This has primarily been based on the ICAO noise certification system which relies on standardised tests with microphones at fixed positions. In the case of landing approaches the monitor is 2 km from touchdown and efforts to reduce noise there may be irrelevant to the experience suffered by those further away. Residents in vocal neighbourhoods 9 to 12 km from the airport (Barnes) may find that a new Rolls-Royce powered A380 is as noisy or noisier than the old Boeing 747 jets it is meant to replace.
Heathrow does not yet have a network of monitors to measure the disturbances caused to many of the communities badly affected by its planes. Sydney and Chicago do much more to gain an accurate measure of their impact on their neighbours.
Heathrow publishes commitments on noise reduction measures
30 May 2013 (Heathrow Airport press release)
- Airlines to be ranked on noise performance
- New noise insulation scheme being piloted
- Airport to propose significant increase in noise fines
Heathrow today publishes ‘A quieter Heathrow’, a report setting out Heathrow’s commitments to reducing aircraft noise while safeguarding the UK’s connectivity.
In the report, Heathrow makes a range of new commitments on noise which include publicly ranking airlines on ‘noise performance’, trialling new departure routes with NATS, proposing to trial steeper approaches into Heathrow, establishing a new noise insulation scheme to replace the existing schemes, exploring innovative solutions to noise insulation for schools such as ‘adobe’1 buildings and proposing a significant increase in fines for airlines that break noise limits.
As well as connecting the UK to long-haul markets around the world and supporting more than 100,000 local jobs, Heathrow recognises that an airport of its size has downsides for people living nearby, in particular aircraft noise. ‘A quieter Heathrow’ brings together a range of measures to meet the Government’s aspiration ‘to strike a fair balance between the negative impacts of noise and the positive economic impacts of flights’2.
The report focuses on five areas:
quieter operating procedures,
noise mitigation and land-use planning,
operating restrictions and
working with local communities.
These measures mean that aircraft flying in and out of Heathrow are on average 15% quieter than fleets of the same airlines which land at other world airports.
Colin Matthews, CEO of Heathrow, says: ‘Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise and as a result, even though the number of flights has almost doubled since the 1970s, fewer people are affected by noise. We will continue to work with airlines, NATS, policy makers and local communities to further reduce aircraft noise whilst safeguarding the vital connectivity and economic growth that Heathrow provides.’
‘A quieter Heathrow’ is not about adding new runways at Heathrow. It sets out important steps that can, and are, being taken now to reduce aircraft noise. However, Heathrow recognises that if it is to grow, a comprehensive package of measures to tackle noise will need to be put forward to ensure there does not have to be a choice between more flights or less noise.
Heathrow’s actions to reduce the impact of noise include:
Quieter planes: Heathrow encourages the quietest aircraft through higher charges for the noisiest aircraft and reduced charges for the quietest aircraft. The airport will be proposing a significant increase in fines for airlines that break noise limits and, later this year, launching a ‘Fly Quiet’ programme which will publicly rank airlines according to their noise performance at Heathrow.
Quieter operating procedures: Heathrow operates runway alternation, uses Continuous Descent Approach and ‘Noise Preferential Routes’. New trials will include a departure route trial, investigating the impact of ending the practice of ‘westerly preference’ and proposing to trial steeper approaches as part of the next night noise regime. Heathrow will also propose a significant increase in noise fines for aircraft that exceed departure noise limits at night.
Noise mitigation and land-use planning: The airport offers noise insulation for community buildings and homes, financial assistance with relocating to ‘quieter’ areas and campaign for local planning authorities to restrict new developments in the noisiest areas. From 2014, we plan to launch a new ‘Quieter Homes’ programme incorporating lessons from a pilot we are currently running.
Operating restrictions: The number of ‘night flights’ permitted at Heathrow is restricted by an annual ‘cap’ and there are noise restrictions on aircraft departing late at night and early in the morning. Heathrow also has a voluntary ban in place for arrivals scheduled to land between 4.30am and 6am not to touch down before 4.30am. In addition, departures are not scheduled between 11pm and 6am.
Working with local communities: The airport works with local authorities and resident groups such as HACAN to trial new operational procedures that could provide noise respite, keep residents up to date through a dedicated noise website and use proceeds from noise fines to fund local community projects. A new social media service will be launched to update residents on unscheduled changes to operations which may impact on noise and aim to continually improve Heathrow’s global ranking for community engagement on aircraft noise, benchmarked by independent analysis.
These actions mean that Heathrow today is significantly quieter than it was four decades ago. Since the early 1970s, when the jet age began, both the area and the number of people within Heathrow’s noise footprint have fallen around tenfold3. This is despite the fact that during the same period the number of aircraft using Heathrow each year has nearly doubled and the number of dwellings within the footprint has also increased significantly. The fall in population within each contour has continued in recent years, as the newest generation of aircraft like the A380 ‘superjumbo’ has started to enter service with airlines.
Recent research by industry-body Sustainable Aviation suggests that this trend will continue. Its Noise Road-Map suggests that by 2050 advances in aircraft technology will allow the number of flights in the UK to double without an increase in aircraft noise4.
– Ends –
Notes to editor:
- ‘A quieter Heathrow’ can be downloaded at www.heathrowairport.com/noise
- Heathrow’s commitments to reduce the impact of noise are set out in further detail in its Noise Action Plan, a document which Heathrow is required, under EU law, to publish every 5 years. The current Noise Action Plan, which was adopted by the UK Government in May 2011, can be found at http://www.heathrowairport.com/noise/what-we-do-about-it/noise-action-plan
1Adobes are igloo-like shelters constructed from bags of earth and plaster. They can accommodate approximately 30 people and their construction and shape can help reduce aircraft noise. Heathrow has recently worked with Hounslow Heath Primary School to part-fund the installation of Adobe buildings in its playground, to allow pupils to study outside, without being disturbed by aircraft noise. Heathrow is looking at how it could adopt this approach with other schools around Heathrow. [Details and photo at link ]
2 Department for Transport, Aviation policy framework, 22 March 2013, p.55
3Based on CAA data presented to T5 Inquiry and supplemented by ERCD Report 1201 Noise Exposure Contours for Heathrow Airport 2011. http://www.heathrowairport.com/static/Heathrow_Noise/Downloads/PDF/ERCD-Reports-1201-Noise-Exposure-Contours-for-Heathrow-Airport-2011.pdf
4Sustainable Aviation Noise Road-map, 23 April 3013.
Stanwell Councillor ridicules Heathrow ‘naming and shaming’
By Chris Caulfield
June 05, 2013 (Get Surrey)
NAMING and shaming noisy airlines and plans to fine them up to £1,000 for breaches of acceptable levels have been dismissed as a “cosmetic exercise”.
Stanwell and Stanwell Moor’s new Labour county councillor, Robert Evans, has slammed the proposals, issued by Heathrow Airport on May 29 against increasing noise for people living near the runways.
The report, A Quieter Heathrow, sets out plans to trial new departure routes, steeper landings and a ‘significant’ increase in fines for airlines that cause excess noise in an attempt to show that expansion and noise reduction could potentially go hand in hand.
Heathrow’s chief executive officer, Colin Matthews, said the airport was “at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise” and that despite flight levels almost doubling since the 1970s, fewer people were affected by noise.
Cllr Evans, whose own party pushed through plans to expand the airport to the north and build a third runway before being voted out at the last general election, compared the plans to “window dressing”.
“Heathrow’s plans for addressing noise pollution are merely a cosmetic exercise to soften the area up for expansion,” he said.
“A voluntary code for airlines and a £1,000 fine for the noisiest aeroplanes is simply not good enough.”
Instead, Cllr Evans, a former MEP, favours a complete and properly enforced ban on flights between 11pm and 6am.
He said: “Heathrow is alone among Europe’s airports in having evolved in such a built-up area. As such, it is beholden to recognise the plight of people living in the worst-affected areas, like Stanwell Moor.
“In addition, there should be better grants for double and triple glazing to homes on the flight paths.
“Heathrow is a big employer in this area and its future is hugely important to the local community. For these reasons, noise pollution, the health and wellbeing of the community is a major issue locally.”
The report focuses on five areas: quieter planes, quieter operating procedures, noise mitigation and land-use planning, operating restrictions and working with communities.
These measures, operators say, mean aircraft flying in and out of Heathrow are, on average, 15% quieter than fleets of the same airlines that land at other world airports.
Comments from AirportWatch members
The report seems to be very honest and as such it probably will inspires hope in many who read it. However, at East Midlands we’ve experienced similar media spins and the honest answer is that it simply doesn’t work and nor it it ever likely to do so. The newer and relatively quieter aircraft still intrude, more especially so during the night and shoulder periods and if we ever have a summer with outdoor meals and entertainment the nuisance will continue to be 24/7.
EU limits on air pollution are already being breached in a couple of places round Heathrow; imagine the pollution levels with 3/4 runways. How do Colin Matthews & Co think they are going to get round this. I read a few years ago that the DfT were contemplating a tunnel over the M4 to reduce air pollution that a third runway would bring! With 4 runways they will no doubt have to put a tunnel over the M25 as well.
I would agree that it “seems” plausible – but fear it is cleverly spun to inspire hope.The “quieter planes” myth is very much based on the ICAO certification classification – and I am still unconvinced that the 2km from touchdown measurement for approach landings that defines the certification is very relevant to the actual experience of the majority of the population who are disturbed by flights dropping into Heathrow. Nor do those communities have much noise monitoring of what is actually happening in their areas (the official monitors are all in narrow arcs close to the airport – primarily to catch take-off noise).
Heathrow also peddles the importance of maintaining daily runway alternation to provide respite with one hand while advocating removing it to provide “operational freedoms” and early morning capacity with the other.
I regret that the suggestions of more extensive independent noise monitoring that were mooted in the draft aviation framework seem to have got lost in the published final version.
It might soon become very quiet if the planes actually doubled their
approach angle as shown in the misleading “steeper approach” diagram
on page 25 !!
Claims were made at a Heathrow Holdings meeting last week that they may be coming forward with new proposals; possibly with a third runway being sited either to the west or south of the airport.They might also want the “option” of a fourth runway.Of course they do! Their assumption is that noise is the main barrier to expansion and no consideration is given to the increase in air pollution that a third runway(and an additional twenty million vehicle journeys) would bring nor where the extra traffic would go on the ever more congested roads in West London..
More hype from Heathrow, exactly the same sort of bilge issuing from another airport press office, a la ‘fuel-sipping, whisper-quiet aircraft’ variety…