NMB 11th April 2018

Gatwick Noise Management Board 10

11th April, 2018

The key points from the recent Gatwick Noise Management Board meeting were as follows:

  1. Reduced Night Noise Trial

The major discussion point at NMB 10 was on the proposed Reduced Night Noise Trial. Following a workshop on the Night Trial in March, Community Groups (including PAGNE) had already submitted a joint paper objecting to the trial on the following grounds:

Introduction of PRNAV routes will lead to increased concentration along a limited number of routes – clearly inconsistent with our core principle of “Fair and Equitable Dispersal”.

  • Trial period 01.30 – 05.00 is limited, with relatively few aircraft movements, thus any conclusions drawn from the trial would not be supported by robust trial data.
  • Proposed number of routes limited i.e. no multiple routes and no consideration of fuller use of night time airspace i.e. reducing night time ILS join from 10 to 8nm.
  • Trial fails to address key night time issue of concentration indeed it would make it worse.

Some of these points were accepted by Gatwick and their consultants, Helios, including the possibility of extending the hours of the trial. However, after a prolonged discussion, it was agreed that Gatwick were to provide more quantifiable objectives, appropriate community safeguards and a suitable communication plan for the proposed trial. These will be reviewed at a follow up discussion on May 23rd in advance of NMB 11, when the final “go/no go” decision will be made.At this stage, all Community Noise Groups remain firmly opposed to the current trial proposal.

2.  Fair and Equitable Dispersal

Discussion on Fair and Equitable Dispersal was particularly disappointing. At previous meetings NATS had suggested that the most effective way of improving dispersal was by holding aircraft in the stacks for longer, allowing a more direct routing to the ILS, thus avoiding the current sequencing techniques which sees planes “tromboning” over greater land areas. Having previously built up expectations, it was particularly disappointing to hear that, having carried out a simulation of the proposed technique, NATS now had concerns that air traffic controller flexibility would be compromised leading to additional complexity and increased workload for Controllers as part of the final approach. The net result was that this initiative has been cancelled.

Community Groups made their disappointment very clear, confirming that on this occasion NATS had shown particularly poor expectations management. NATS took away an action point to look at other potential projects to improve FED.

Yet another disappointment came in relation to FED gate monitoring and reporting. You may recall that we had previously agreed the 2011 arrival swathe as our arrival benchmark. Frustratingly, at NMB 10 we were informed that there continued to be data integrity issues which prevented the publication of the required arrivals data. We have now been waiting 7 months for this data. On a more positive note we now understand that the necessary remedial measures are being taken and that the FED reports, including back dated information are expected to be made available in May.

  1. Noise Metrics

The Noise Metric Discussion Paper prepared and agreed by the Community Groups was tabled at the meeting. The paper (copy attached for your information) details what Community Groups consider to be the key noise variables, whilst also suggesting a potential noise calculation methodology to determine the benefits/dis-benefits associated with any future noise initiatives. A key element of this proposal is the requirement for sufficient numbers of noise monitors and that they be appropriately located to capture the necessary data. It was therefore pleasing to hear that Gatwick had acquired an additional 9 monitors and now has 16 in total. The paper has been deliberately positioned as a discussion paper and will form the basis of on-going engagement with Gatwick to agree a suitable long term noise metric. The first of these meetings will take place on 3rd May.

4.  Departures

A Departures Workshop has been scheduled for 23rd May.

As previously reported, work has started on examining whether altitude can be increased for departure routes 3 and 4 (routes sharply to the North of Gatwick after take-off). Results to date have highlighted the conflict with Heathrow airspace. Discussions are therefore needed with Heathrow to improve routes 3 and 4. In addition, following the successful Route 4 Judicial Review, Gatwick and the CAA are working together to determine how best to move forward. We are watching this situation very closely to ensure any Route 4 remedial proposals do not have a negative impact for our communities. At NMB 10 Gatwick also confirmed that, despite the current Route 3 & 4 workloads, they had sufficient resource to commence a review of other departure routes. My intention is to raise this at the forthcoming workshop.

5.  A320 Modification

Of flights by Airbus A320 series at Gatwick, 97% are now operated by modified aircraft with each flight generating less noise (circa 9dB) than flights operated by unmodified aircraft. Encouragingly, for the first 3 months of 2018, on average just 6 arrivals per day were made by unmodified A320 aircraft.

The next Noise Management Board Meeting (NMB 11) is scheduled for 27th June.


Atholl Forbes

Chairman PAGNE