Heathrow today announced plans to trial a steeper approach for aircraft landing at Heathrow. This trial is one of 10 practical steps Heathrow is taking through its Blueprint for Noise Reduction to explore ways to improve the noise climate around Heathrow.
If adopted, it will be the only airport in the UK to introduce steeper approaches as a means to reduce noise on the ground.
The international standard approach for most airports in the world is set at 3 degrees, except for obstacle clearance (e.g. buildings, mountains etc.).Heathrow believes a steeper angle is possible and will lead to quieter approaches to the airport. This has been the experience at Frankfurt airport that has introduced steeper approach angles to reduce noise for people living nearby.
To test whether the implementation of steeper approaches of up to 3.5 degrees at the airport is possible, starting September 2015 Heathrow will be trialling a slightly steeper approach angle of 3.2 degrees.
The trial has been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority and is planned to run until 16 March 2016. While the trial is optional, a large number of airlines that have the necessary standard of navigational equipment for this approach are expected to take part.
Steeper approaches, along with other new operating procedures, and new aircraft technology will ensure that even with expansion at the airport, fewer people around Heathrow would be affected by aircraft noise than today. This was confirmed by the Airports Commission in their recommendation to Government which stated that at least 200,000 fewer people are expected to be within Heathrow’s noise footprint by the time an additional runway opens.
How Heathrow is reducing noise…
Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Sustainability and Environment said:“Heathrow has changed, and taken a new approach to addressing our impacts on communities, including when it comes to noise. Our Blueprint to cut aircraft noise have been driven by feedback from local communities.
“It role is to challenge the industry to think innovatively about ways to reduce noise. Steeper approaches are just one step in the right direction, and along with other quieter operating procedures and incentives to bring quieter aircraft into operation, will ensure fewer people are affected by noise, even with an expanded airport.” – Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Sustainability and Environment
“It role is to challenge the industry to think innovatively about ways to reduce noise. Steeper approaches are just one step in the right direction, and along with other quieter operating procedures and incentives to bring quieter aircraft into operation, will ensure fewer people are affected by noise, even with an expanded airport.”
Heathrow has briefed a range of stakeholders about the trial including the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee and Community Noise forum. Mobile noise monitors have been specially deployed for the duration of the trial. A report will be issued following the trial summarising the findings.
Other initiatives Heathrow is taking to reduce noise are:
The Fly Quiet League table;
Quieter planes. Incentivising airlines to use modern, quieter planes;
Quieter procedures. Encouraging the quietest practicable take-off and landing procedures;
Operating restrictions. Fewer planes after 11 and quieter planes in the early morning;
Mitigating noise and land use. Effective noise insulation schemes and influencing planning to minimize the number of noise-sensitive properties around the airport;
Working with local communities. Reflecting the community’s concerns in our noise strategies and communications.
Where will the trial take place..
The trial only affects arriving aircraft on the final approach into Heathrow (approx. 10 miles from touchdown). It will be used on all four runway approaches (27R, 27L, 09R, 09L).
The diagrams below show the final approaches to Heathrow’s northern or southern runways on westerly and easterly operations.
How can Heathrow get quieter even with expansion
By the time a third runway opens, 90% of Heathrow’s air traffic will be quieter, next-generation aircraft such as the Airbus A380, Boeing 787 and Airbus A320NEO.
We’ve proposed a number of measures to complement these advancements including steeper approaches and displaced thresholds (aircraft landing further down runways) to reduce noise.
The Airports Commission in their recommendation to Government which stated that at least 200,000 fewer people are expected to be within Heathrow’s noise footprint by the time an additional runway opens. For information on how Heathrow can get quieter with expansion, click here.