(photo: Brüel & Kjær)
Fri 26 Aug 2016 – As a result of engagement with resident groups, London’s Heathrow Airport is installing 50 new noise monitors in the local area as well as upgrading its existing monitoring network. The airport says the new monitors will help the airport and residents gain a better understanding of local noise impacts and will complement the modelling of the existing fixed and mobile monitors, and plans to use the system to provide real-time measurements to residents. This is one of 10 steps set out by Heathrow in its second ‘Blueprint for Noise Reductions’ just released that include the launch of a web-based tool for residents to access flight data specific to their locations and establishing a voluntary Quiet Night Charter to reduce the impact of night operations.
The data gathered by the expanded monitoring system, pledges the airport operator, will be shared publicly through the Heathrow noise website and the Heathrow Community Noise Forum, which was set up last year in response to local concerns over future changes to airspace as a result of the UK government’s Future Airspace Strategy. The Forum is made up of representatives from 12 local authorities, the UK Civil Aviation Authority, UK air navigation provider NATS, British Airways, the Department for Transport and the airport itself.
The noise monitors are being supplied by global sound and vibration measurement specialist Brüel & Kjær and will be a mix of permanent and portable terminals to provide unattended sound level monitoring to measure, record, process, store and transmit noise data to Heathrow’s Airport Noise and Operations Management system. The portable terminals will be used to deliver continuous noise monitoring for shorter-term projects, with both types specifically designed for continuous outdoor use and will work in conjunction with the company’s existing systems in place at the airport.
The airport is also to reduce landing charges from January 2017 to incentivise airlines to use the quietest Chapter 14 aircraft on routes to Heathrow. The move, it says, will make it the first airport in the world to differentiate charges for aircraft like the Airbus A350, which has just started regular flights to and from Heathrow with Ethiopian Airlines.
In other actions designed to reduce noise, aircraft landing at Heathrow are being asked to deploy landing gear as late as is safely possible, adopt steeper approaches and increase the percentage of Continuous Descent Approaches. The airport is also undertaking this year an aircraft departure profile noise study in order to understand why some aircraft are lower than others and to monitor noise changes resulting from different procedures.
New data released as part of its latest quarterly Fly Quiet League table shows a 5.5% increase in the proportion of quieter new-generation aircraft serving the airport, says Heathrow, claiming it is now quieter than it has been at any time since the 1970s, despite the doubling of aircraft movements.
“Heathrow shares a common objective with local residents: we want to make the skies around us quieter,” commented Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye. “The arrival of new, quieter aircraft and the start of our programme to install the new noise monitors will help us accelerate the reduction in the noise impacts of Heathrow.”
He said the airport’s latest plan for expanding the airport and a new third runway would reduce the number of people affected by noise, “while increasing the social and economic benefits that Heathrow provides.” The airport says it has committed to meeting, and in most cases exceed, the environmental conditions set out in the Airport Commission’s recommendation published a year ago for the expansion of Heathrow, including on noise mitigation.
According to The Guardian newspaper, the new UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, whose own constituency is impacted by Heathrow, is to personally chair a cabinet committee of ministers to make a final decision on a third runway by October. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who previously backed a new airport in the Thames Estuary, and Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, are known to favour expanding Gatwick Airport rather than Heathrow.
UK campaign group Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) has launched a social media campaign called ’50 reasons why Britain doesn’t need a new runway’ to highlight its opposition to expansion at either airport.
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