A major report which HACAN commissioned from the Aviation Environment Federation and which it has just published.  


Persbericht 6.3.2010


Commentaar Daedalus
"Dit bevestigt het standpunt van Daedalus dat concentratie van  vluchtroutes (vertrekkend of landend) is alleen gerechtvaardigd als er onbewoonbare zones zijn in het verlengde van de baan tot minstens 30 tot 40 kilometer. Het feit dat CDA contreproductief is gaat in dezelfde richting.


Britse kritiek op de Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) omdat deze de concentratiezone voor landingen uitbreidt tot op tientallen kilometers van de luchthaven, in gebieden die voorheen geen enkele hinder hadden.



Aircraft noise is no longer just a West London problem


A major study outlines why things have changed and what can be done about it.


Notes for Editors:  There are maps at the foot of this press release to illustrate the current situation and links to a short video which illustrates the situation in Vauxhall in South London.


A major study has been published by HACAN which outlines practical measures which would reduce aircraft noise for countless numbers of people living under the Heathrow arrivals flight paths (1).    The study was commissioned in response to the increasing number of complaints about Heathrow noise HACAN received from people living many miles away from the airport and who used not to be affected.  The study, carried out for HACAN by the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), concentrated on those places some distance from Heathrow where aircraft noise has only become a serious problem in the last decade or so.   During this time aircraft noise has steadily got worse in areas such as Vauxhall, Clapham, Brixton, South East London, Docklands, parts of North London and, to the west of the airport, places beyond Windsor.  The report has identified the reasons why this has happened and suggests remedies.  Some of these remedies, such as a steeper approach path, would also benefit areas closer to Heathrow.


HACAN Chair John Stewart said, ?No longer is aircraft noise just a problem for the traditional areas of West London and Windsor in the vicinity of Heathrow.  It has spread far and wide across London and the Home Counties.  The tentacles of Heathrow reach to areas over 30 miles from the airport.  The Department for Transport has tried to hide what has happened.  This shows what has taken place and comes up with some answers.?


The report found that the major reason for the spread and increase of the noise lies in the fact that aircraft have started joining their final approach to Heathrow much further out than previously.  For many years planes coming from the east used to start their final approach in West London in the Barnes area.  But from 1996 onwards they increasingly have joined their final approach path many miles further east.  This has resulted in a concentration of flights over areas such as Stockwell and Vauxhall.  A survey carried out by HACAN last year found that as many as 39 planes an hour were flying over Vauxhall, causing a significant deterioration in the noise environment.


The report identifies the reasons for this:


?       There has been a change in the ways planes come into land.  Traditionally, aircraft landed in a step-by-step manner until they joined their final approach path over Barnes in the east (and just beyond Windsor in the west).  But, under the system most of them now use, called Continuous Descent Approach (CDA), they descend at a smoother 3 degrees instead of using the steps.  This reduces the noise from the plane slightly but, in order to get the steadier descent, it may require planes to join their final approach earlier on.  It is for this reason that from the mid-1990s aircraft started joining their final approach path in South East London and beyond, and in Henley-on-Thames in the West.     


?       The situation has been made worse by the increase in the number of planes in recent years.  This has resulted in aircraft noise becoming a problem in areas of North London such as Highgate and Finsbury Park and triggering complaints from across East London, from places like Docklands, Bow and Beckton.


A Beckton resident said, ?There is no way I should be affected by Heathrow aircraft but in recent years they have become a real problem for me.?


Ghislaine Stewart, who lives at Vauxhall said, ?We have lived in this house for over 20 years.  Yet it is only in recent years that aircraft noise has become a problem.  In fact, it has become unbearable.  We didn?t move to the planes; they moved to us.  There was no consultation.  There has been no compensation.?


The report recommends:


The introduction of a steeper approach path (glideslope).  At present it is 3 degrees.  The study cites research from the international aviation industry which says that a 4 degree glideslope is feasible, even for the biggest planes.  A 4 degree glideslope could cut the area where people are disturbed by noise by 21 ? 35%.  This would have benefits for areas closer to Heathrow as well.


The introduction of curved CDA approaches.  This would overcome the problem of needing a concentrated arrivals corridor over east and central London with planes joining their final approach path many miles from the airport The European Commission is actively looking at the possibility of curved CDA approaches.  But, in order to get over the problem of concentration and the associated burden of noise, several curved approaches would need to be introduced.    


The Government reconsiders its policy of concentrating flight paths.  The report concludes that the Government?s noise objective which focuses only on the number of people affected ?is simplistic and out-of-date, and may even act as a constraint on improving the noise situation around many airports.? A more equitable system could reduce the noise levels from intolerable to well below the threshold where it would be noticed.


Tim Johnson, the Director of the Aviation Environment Federation, the author of the report, said, ?The report has positive suggestions on how the situation can be improved.  It won?t happen overnight but unless a start is made change will not happen.  That is the challenge for the next Government.?




Notes for Editors:


(1).  Report attached.  The report only deals with landing aircraft.  It did not look at take-offs.


Maps Below (from BAA?s website)

The flights paths (in 2008) of planes landing at Heathrow.   In a typical year a west wind blows for around 70-75% of the year.  That is when planes land over London from the east.


The flight paths when planes land from the east.


The flight paths when planes land from the west.

For further details contact:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641; 07957385650

Tim Johnson on 0207 248 2223

Ghislaine Stewart on 0207 735 619


Press Release dated: 6/3/10