- New Noise Management Board has brought community and industry together within formalised structure for the first time
- Significant progress made in key areas
- Four of the five largest operators of A320 aircraft will modify their entire fleets by December 2017 to reduce the noise impact on local residents
The first annual progress report on the Independent Arrivals Review of Gatwick Airport was published today - with eleven of 23 recommendations complete and a further five nearing completion. Work on the remaining recommendations is ongoing, as is new follow-on work stemming from the original recommendations as part of a programme of continuous improvement.
The Review (here) looked at what could be done to alleviate problems local communities were reporting in relation to noise from arriving aircraft, and whether the mechanisms Gatwick uses to provide information and handle complaints were adequate.
In June 2016 Gatwick published its final action plan to implement the 23 recommendations and today’s report highlights progress on each, with a focus on three that the Review identified as priorities in terms of delivering meaningful near-term noise improvements:
- Modifying A320s: More than half of Gatwick flights use the Airbus A320 series, but they can create a high-pitched whine on approach. A modification eliminates this noise and adapting all A320s using the airport was seen as a priority recommendation.
From January 2018, Gatwick will impose higher noise charges to any A320 aircraft that have not been modified. Several airlines accelerated their modification programmes as a result, with four of the five largest operators - accounting for around 90% of A320 movements at Gatwick – now expecting to modify their entire fleets by the end of 2017.
- Continuous Descent Approach (CDA): Employing a continuous descent approach means aircraft use less thrust and generate less noise by descending at a continuous rate, rather than a stepped approach.
In August 2016, the altitude for CDA conformance was raised for all flights arriving at Gatwick from 6000 to 7000 feet to reduce the noise impact on local communities even further.
- Reduction in minimum final approach joining distance: A change in Gatwick’s minimum joining point on final approach in 2013 led to increased concentration of aircraft. This recommendation aimed to increase the arrivals dispersal to more closely emulate circumstances prior to 2013.
In August 2016, a new minimum joining point was introduced which led to an average 25% reduction in the number of aircraft joining at the previously concentrated 11 nautical mile joining point, compared to the previous year. More work however is required to identify feasible steps toward ‘fair and equitable dispersal’ of aircraft in the near-term, ahead of new technology making dispersal more predictable and consistent post 2022.
In line with the Review’s recommendations, a new independent Noise Management Board has been established at Gatwick bringing community and industry stakeholders together for the first time within a formalised structure. The Board provides community oversight of noise issues and has so far met four times.
Gatwick Airport Deputy Chairman, Sir Roy McNulty said:
“We committed to take forward implementation of all the recommendations from the Arrivals Review and, one year on, a substantial amount of work has been undertaken and some real progress made by Gatwick, industry stakeholders and our local communities through the Noise Management Board. There is still some way to go and we will continue to work on existing recommendations and address fresh areas of concern.
“This has been an extremely constructive process and, while challenging at times, it is only through listening and engaging in detailed discussions with both our local communities and industry experts, that we will deliver truly effective measures. The establishment of the Noise Management Board has been particularly productive in this respect and I expect that it will play a key role coordinating noise issues for many years to come.
“I am encouraged that the efforts of the past year have yielded tangible benefits and I am sure that with the continued support of all stakeholders, future work will lead to continued improvement in the airport’s noise performance.”
Nusrat Ghani, Member of Parliament for Wealden, who hosted several MP briefings on the Noise Review, said:
"With the Independent Arrivals Review and the creation of the Noise Management Board, Gatwick has shown it is now listening to the local community's very strong and justified concerns about aircraft noise.
"There is still plenty of work to be done to deliver all the recommendations, with 13 still to be completed, but I am pleased we now have the structures in place to work better together. I will continue to hold Gatwick to account as we move forward."
Read the report here.
About Gatwick Airport
Gatwick Airport is the UK’s second largest airport and the most efficient single-runway airport in the world. It serves 228 destinations in 74 countries for 43 million passengers a year on short and long-haul point-to-point services. It is also a major economic driver for the South East region, generating around 21,000 on-airport jobs and a further 10,000 jobs through related activities. The airport is south of Central London with excellent public transport links, including the Gatwick Express, and is part of the Oyster contactless payment network. Gatwick Airport is owned by a group of international investment funds, of which Global Infrastructure Partners is the largest shareholder.
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