Since the independent arrivals review was published in January 2016 a great deal of progress has already been made in taking forward many of the review’s recommendations. 

Here Bo Redeborn, who led the Arrivals Review and is now Chair of Gatwick’s Noise Management Board, updates on progress. 

After an extensive community consultation, the Independent Arrivals Review made 23 detailed recommendations aimed at reducing Gatwick’s noise impacts and strengthening the airport’s relationship with those communities most impacted by noise. 

Gatwick has accepted the recommendations and after a further feed-back from communities, published a Final Action Plan, that set out the expected implementation details and target timescales. 

While many of the recommendations will take time to implement, I’m pleased to report overall,  that very good progress is being made. 

Noise Management Board 

One of the review’s core recommendations was the establishment of a Noise Management Board (NMB) for Gatwick, to bring all partners together to work through and agree the often complex issues, as well as to identify any future work that may be needed. 

The NMB will oversee the implementation of the Arrivals Review’s recommendations, while further informing noise management strategy for Gatwick. 

The NMB is made up of representatives from the local community, Gatwick, National Air Traffic Services (NATS), Air Navigation Solutions (ANS), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the Department for Transport (DfT), the Gatwick Consultative Committee (GATCOM) and airlines. It held its first meeting in June. 

The next NMB meeting is scheduled for 7 September 2016 and we are in the process of creating a dedicated webpage to include minutes and action plans agreed at the NMB. 

In the meantime, while work is underway on all 23 recommendations, here is an indication of the status of recommendations given the highest priority and which can directly influence the noise performance of aircraft.

Broadening the arrival swathe for approaching aircraft

In 2013, air traffic control procedures were adjusted to provide aircraft with a longer period on final approach. One consequence of this change was to increase the concentration of aircraft in some areas.  

Following representations from communities and the detailed analysis undertaken as a part of the arrivals review, a recommendation was made to restore a far as possible the prior arrangements.  

This has been a complex issue to resolve, needing close collaboration with NATS and the CAA to deliver the intended outcome. While it has taken a little longer to achieve than was originally expected, to enable the necessary regulatory and safety oversight,  I am pleased to report that the change was introduced in mid-August.  

It will take some time to assess the impact, but of course the NMB will be monitoring developments as part of a six-month programme of review for the CAA.  

Continuous descent procedures 

This recommendation aims to keep aircraft at a higher altitude for as long as possible and to fly a continuous descent approach using lower power settings and reduced use of drag techniques, which are often applied to slow aircraft down in preparation for landing. The objectives are to reduce both engine and airframe noise from aircraft. 

The monitoring and reporting of aircraft adherence to this newly adapted procedure began on 1 August 2016. Improvements to continuous descent procedures are expected to increase the actual altitude of aircraft over both urban and rural areas under Gatwick’s approaches. Reports will be provided to the NMB. 

Additional measures will be developed as necessary to improve adherence to the procedure and an operating culture of continuous noise improvement. 

Modification to the Airbus A320 family of aircraft

While work to address the characteristic ‘whining’ sound produced by the A320 family of aircraft has been underway for some time, the review team recommended Gatwick incentivise this work to be fast tracked.  

I am pleased to report that the proportion of modified aircraft increases each month as part of established airline initiatives, about half of the affected fleets are now modified. 

Meanwhile, in accordance with the review’s recommendations, Gatwick has proposed two key steps: 

  • an adapted charging mechanism to further speed up the process of modifying aircraft which will be introduced in January 2017
  • measures by the Department for Transport to require all affected Airbus aircraft operating in UK to be modified, and to propose similar steps by international policy makers. 

Outlook

Through close collaboration between all parties, excellent progress has been made to date. While many of the recommendations by their very nature, will take time to implement, I have been encouraged by the achievements so far and the willingness of all partners to work together. 

I remain confident that the Arrivals Review and the NMB has the ability to contribute to a significant reduction in Gatwick’s noise impacts and the strengthening of the airport’s dialogue with its neighbours and other stakeholders through improved collaboration, communications and information.

Bo Redeborn - Chairman
Noise Management Board