Gatwick Noise Management Board 9
11th January, 2018
The key points from the recent Gatwick Noise Management Board meeting were as follows:
Gatwick Volume Expansion v’s Noise Reduction
Having met the Gatwick team in December to discuss the airport’s historic and on-going failure to meet Government aviation policy, community groups once again argued strongly for the establishment of an agreement to balance airport growth with noise reduction. Following a protracted debate, it was clear that there continued to be a significant disparity of views not helped by the wooliness of the current aviation policy’s wording. However, it was agreed that Gatwick would work with community groups to agree a way forward with the initial focus being the development and agreement of growth/noise metrics to facilitate future growth and noise measurement.
Reduced Night Noise Trial
The meeting agreed that preparatory work should commence for the trial to reduce night flight noise. The trial will introduce RNAV for arrivals (SatNav for planes) with the anticipation being that more approaches will be made in a low noise configuration. The trial will require significant planning and community groups will be fully engaged at every stage. The trial is likely to commence in January 2019 running until end June. Initially the trial will operate between 1.30am and 5am although we are pushing for this to be extended to include the busiest part of the night time period (11.30pm – 1.30am). The trial will be treated purely as a learning exercise for both night flights and the new method of navigation.
Community groups will participate in a detailed planning workshop in March, with the final trial proposal document being formally presented for approval at June’s NMB 11.
The deadline for modifying the Airbus A320 jet whine passed on 31st December. Invoices have been sent to those airlines that have not yet fully modified their fleets. In future the NMB will receive reports based on the number of flights where aircraft have not been modified. The good news is that the number of planes requiring modification continues to decline and feedback suggests that, rather than incur punitive fines, airlines are reallocating unmodified planes to other airports.
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). Although the research has only just started, it showed the conflict for these routes with Heathrow airspace. Discussions will therefore be needed with Heathrow to improve routes 3 and 4. Consequently, we sought assurance that conclusions on routes 3 and 4 would not apply to all other departure routes and that similar reviews will be carried out on routes 1, 7 and 8 which impact our communities. This assurance was given and work on westerly departure routes will be considered in due course.
Gatwick 2019–2024 Noise Action Plan
The Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006 require airports to produce a Noise Action Plan. Gatwick are currently developing the third version of this plan covering the period 2019-2024. Unfortunately NMB community groups have had no opportunity to provide direct input to the plan. We highlighted our concerns with the current process, which clearly fails to take account of community group views,. In addition, given the ever-increasing noise burden being faced by communities, we also suggested that Gatwick’s plan is not fit for purpose. Following discussion, Community Group’s will now be able to provide direct input into the Noise Action Plan.
- Other Discussion Points
We were disappointed that there appeared to have been no progress in relation to the NATS led initiative to make more effective use of the holds to deliver greater dispersal across the arrivals swathe. Community groups asked the NMB Chairman to highlight our concerns by escalating the issue to Martin Rolfe (NATS CEO). Equally disappointing was the lack of dispersal data across the arrival gates. Having agreed the 2011 swathe as our benchmark at NMB 7, it was particularly frustrating that we were unable to consider any data comparing current dispersal against the 2011 benchmark. Gatwick explained that there are some logistical and technical challenges in producing the required data, but having followed up separately, Gatwick now believe they have identified a solution and that the required data will be available for NMB 10
Gatwick will be reintroducing a phone number for complaints in the summer. This will be managed through Casper who also manage the website complaints system. In the meantime, I would encourage you to continue logging complaints via Gatwick’s on-line portal – Casper. http://flighttracking.casper.aero/lgw/complaint/