Campaigners and Heathrow Airport collaborate to bring early morning noise respite to London residents
Wed 19 Dec 2012 – Flights arriving into Heathrow in the early morning are a source of disturbance for many residents across London and to the west of the airport. On average, around 17 flights arrive each morning between 04.30 and 06.00 and there is no set route as air traffic controllers look to achieve the safest and most efficient flight paths for aircraft. In partnership with British Airways, air traffic control company NATS and Heathrow anti-noise campaign group HACAN, London’s Heathrow Airport has launched a trial to test whether creating noise relief zones for communities under the flight paths could ease the burden. Working with air traffic controllers at NATS, the Early Morning Noise Respite Trial will explore whether the flights, particularly at the beginning of their approach into Heathrow, can be routed in a more defined way, offering more predictability for residents living below.
“We are very pleased to be working with HACAN to find innovative solutions to minimise the impact of aircraft noise on residents,” said Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s Sustainability Director. “A relatively small adjustment in terms of the flight path can have a big impact on those living underneath it.”
The trial will work by defining two zones – inner and outer – over each trial area that will be active sequentially week by week. Pilots will be directed by air traffic control to avoid flying through whichever zone is active for that particular week. Whether the aircraft land from the east or west depends on the wind direction so there will be four trial areas, two to the east and two to the west.
The trial, which started in November, will run for five months. Heathrow has organised two events in London locations affected by the trial to explain details to residents.
“Periods of respite are very important for residents under the flight path. We welcome this initiative,” said John Stewart, chair of HACAN. The campaign group would like to see a ban on all flights at Heathrow between 23.00 and 06.00.