In response to feedback from some of our local residents and resident groups, we commissioned an independent review of air traffic around Gatwick.

Gatwick has committed to implemeting the findings of the review in the Final Action Plan. Below is background to the Arrivals Review and an update on progress to date. 

Update on progress from Bo Redeborn 

Six months have now passed since the publications of the findings and recommendations of the Gatwick Independent Arrivals Review at the end of January.

What progress has been made?

The implementation of the Arrivals Review recommendations, taken as a whole, will contribute to reducing the noise impact of Gatwick, and the strengthening of the airport’s dialogue with its neighbours through improved communications and information. The recommendations are intended to enable better coordinated noise strategies, more transparent accountability for noise, the acceleration of planned longer term efficiencies to reduce noise impact and, through the Noise Management Board, create a much more transparent process for regular review and update.

The continued improvement to aircraft noise at Gatwick requires the collaboration and cooperation of Gatwick Airport Limited, National Air Traffic Services (NATS), Air Navigation Solutions (ANS), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the Department for Transport (DfT) and airlines.

The Noise Management Board (NMB), Recommendation Imm-18, which was constituted on June 21st brings these organisations together, with the chair of GATCOM and elected community representatives, to jointly monitor and report progress, as well as to discuss and develop further enhancements to noise management strategy at Gatwick. A dedicated NMB webpage is currently being built and will be initially accessed through this page. The draft minutes of the first meeting NMB meeting will be published on the NMB page, in the next few weeks.

Some of the individual measures identified in the review are expected to be able to deliver, as standalone initiatives, meaningful near term noise improvements that residents have been seeking, they have been given priority:

  • Imm-01, modifications to Airbus 320 series aircraft to eliminate the “whine” characteristic
  • Imm-05, raising the commencement height and other improvements to Continuous Descent Arrival procedures
  • Imm-10, broadening the approach arrival “swathe” to extend between 8-14 nm

Airbus 320 series aircraft

RECOMMENDATION Imm-01 “That as an indication of GAL commitment to noise reduction, and a further tangible indication to local communities that the noise impact of the airport is taken seriously, and to incentivise an accelerated noise modification by all airlines using A320 family aircraft at Gatwick, GAL should establish an earlier sunset date for unmodified Airbus 320 family aircraft using the airport of December 31st 2017. With an appropriate noise penalty applied for noncompliant aircraft immediately thereafter.”

The proportion of modified aircraft has increased each month as part of established airline initiatives; about half of the affected fleets have now been modified. Meanwhile GAL has developed and proposed to airlines an adapted charging mechanism in accordance with the recommendation to accelerate aircraft modification. The new charging scheme is planned for introduction in January 2017.

Continuous Descent Arrivals

RECOMMENDATION Imm-05 “That as soon as possible, the altitude for commencement of CDA at Gatwick should be increased to 7000 feet (FL070)”.

This recommendation proposes increased use of an established noise reduction technique; keeping aircraft at altitude for as long as possible and applying a Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) with low thrust reduces noise on the ground. Adopting this recommendation and closely monitoring its use is expected to increase the altitudes at which arriving aircraft are operated. Monitoring and reporting of aircraft compliance with this adapted procedure will commence in August.

This recommendation, taken together with its associated recommendations (Imm- 6, 7 and 8) are expected to combine to increase the actual altitude of aircraft in the arrivals swathe, over urban and rural areas under Gatwick’s approaches, such as Crowborough, Tunbridge Wells and Billingshurst.

The reporting of the CDA performance to the new commencement altitude to the NMB is expected to demonstrate the effects of these improvements, reducing noise disturbance from Gatwick bound aircraft.

Widening the arrival swathe

RECOMMENDATION Imm-10 That GAL explores with NATS the potential for aircraft to be vectored to be established on the ILS at a minimum of 8nm from touchdown outside of night hours, rather than the current 10nm. This adaptation to vectoring methodology will extend the arrival swathe 2nm further to the west for Runway 26, and east for Runway 08, and will increase the arrivals dispersal to more closely emulate the circumstances prior to 2013 change. Hence the arrival swathe would normally extend from a minimum of 8nm, rather than the 10nm introduced in 2013, with aircraft joining on a straight in approach when traffic permits.

This Recommendation is one of the more complex to implement. The implementation plan has required:

1. A thorough analysis of the issues associated with this Recommendation 
2. Assess findings of the analysis against feedback from the period of community engagement
3. GAL to request NATS to utilise the increased swathe from minimum 8 nm to 14 nm when straight in approach is not applied, for arrivals to both Runway 26 and Runway 08
4. NATS and ANS to complete the required Safety Case for review and approval by CAA
5. Confirm planned implementation date
6. The NMB will monitor the impact to verify that the intended fairer and more equitable dispersal is being achieved

The preliminary planning work on this Recommendation was commenced in April, following the publication by GAL of its response to the Arrivals Review in its Proposed Action Plan. This has continued since then with detailed work being undertaken to address each of the aspects needed to enable the proposed change to be achieved.

This has taken more time than was initially forecast, largely as a result of the complexity of ensuring that the analysis and planning related to the regulatory requirements for the safety documentation could be met in full. It has been necessary to develop and agree a new monitoring regime for reporting purposes. The change of ATC provider from NATS to ANS at Gatwick Tower in March also introduced an additional layer of process.

Even so, this work has now been completed, with final verifications due in the first week of August and implementation expected about a week later in mid-August.

The NMB will meet again on September 7th. On the Agenda will be the review of a dashboard of the status of each of the 23 Arrivals Review Recommendations. This will be published shortly afterwards.

Bo Redeborn - Chairman
Noise Management Board


Gatwick Airport Independent Arrivals Review was led by industry experts Bo Redeborn and Graham Lake who were asked to provide a fully independent and professional analysis and report. As part of the review, Bo, Graham and their small team, engaged with an extensive range of organisations, individuals, Parish, Town and District County Councils and MPs. They also held three interactive public meetings with local MPs which were attended by several hundred people. In addition, they received feedback and comments by email.

Key focus of the review

The review took over four months to complete and was published on 28 January 2016. Its main aim was:

  • To make sure everything that can reasonably be done to alleviate issues raised by the local community is being done. This includes by Gatwick Airport as well as other agencies closely involved in the industry ie. NATS, CAA, airlines and the DfT
  • To understand if the way Gatwick communicates with and provides information to the local community, including the handling of complaints, is fully adequate. 

Main findings of the review

You can read the full Independent Review of Arrivals and the executive summary here. The reports sets out 23 practical steps that can be taken to improve noise and the key recommendations and findings from the review are as follows: 

  • To reduce the number of aircraft holding over land
  • To improve use of continuous descent arrivals which would generate significantly less noise, and increase the sequencing and spacing of arrivals
  • To accelerate the modification of the Airbus A320 family of aircraft to reduce the whining noise they make during the approach phase of flight
  • To establish an independently chaired noise management board to oversee joint strategies to deal with noise around the airport
  • To develop a comprehensive online complaint management system

Read our press release 
Read the full Independent Arrivals Review

Gatwick Airport's response 

Gatwick welcomed the findings of the review and published a detailed response and proposed Action Plan for the implementation of the review's 23 recommendations. This included the establishment of an independent Noise Management Board, comprising main aviation stakeholders and representatives of local communities.  A planning meeting of the proposed Noise Management Board was held on 18 May 2016.

Following publication of the Proposed Action Plan, Gatwick has now published its Final Action Plan.  This Final Action Plan report reflects the constructive feedback to the Arrivals Review and the Proposed Action Plan that has been received from communities and other stakeholders, as well as the results and conclusions of additional analysis.

Community engagement  

On 26 April, we held a community engagement event. Below we have published the presentations made by Gatwick Airport, the CAA, easyJet and NATS at the event:

Gatwick Airport presentation
Civil Aviation Authority presentation
easyJet presentation
NATS presentation

Below you can find a series of correspondence between both Sir Roy McNulty (our Chairman), Stewart Wingate (our CEO) and Sally Pavey, Chair of CAGNE, which we have published in the spirit of transparency and sharing of information.

CAGNE email to Sir Roy - 10 March 2016
Sir Roy reply to CAGNE - 31 March 2016
CAGNE letter to Sir Roy - received 7 April 2016
Sir Roy reply to CAGNE - 11 April 2016
CAGNE email to Stewart Wingate - 19 April 2016
Stewart Wingate reply to CAGNE - 20 April 2016 
CAGNE email to Sir Roy - 8 May 2016
Sir Roy reply to CAGNE, including meeting minutes - 16 May 2016

Bo Redeborn bio

Amongst other current activities, Bo is an independent member of Gatwick’s Environment, Health and Safety and Operational Resilience Committee. From 2011-2014 he was Principal Director Air Traffic Management in EUROCONTROL and, before joining EUROCONTROL in 2009, he was Manager Air Traffic Management and later Manager Air Traffic Management Support and Development in the Swedish CAA (LVF).
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