NMB | Gatwick Airport

Noise management board update

Here Bo Redeborn updates on progress of the NMB at Gatwick

Bo Redeborn, who led the Arrivals Review and is the independent chair of the Noise Management Board (NMB), updates on progress made by the Board. You can find all minutes and documents relating to meetings on our NMB page.

Reduced night noise trial update

Included in the work plan for the Noise Management Board (NMB), which was adopted in June 2017, is a proposal to explore the possibility of conducting a Reduced Night Noise (RNN) trial.

If the trial goes ahead, it will look at whether more precise satellite navigation techniques could be used to potentially avoid overflight of populated areas and reduce the effects of aircraft noise.

A specific aim of the trial would be to see if – by using new navigation techniques - the height of arriving aircraft can be increased, and in doing so the noise impact reduced.

The proposed trial, which is likely to begin in early 2019, will involve some fine tuning of approach procedures to reduce the noise impact on the ground.

All members of the NMB, including the community groups, have been engaged throughout the development of this activity and will continue to be fully involved as the project plan is developed. This includes a number of NMB facilitated workshops to help develop and refine views. These workshops will continue to include industry and community representatives.

The RNN workshop on 14 March will consider high-level concepts for dispersal by design with RNAV, for discussion and feedback, with further external communication.

If it goes ahead, the trial would be just the first building block in assessing the feasibility of using precise navigation by aircraft on approach to Gatwick to potentially avoid overflight of populated areas and reduce noise.

Preliminary update from RNN community workshop

A Reduced Night Noise Community Workshop was held by the Noise Management Board at Gatwick on 14 March 2018.  The workshop began with an overview of RNAV operations, traffic details, design considerations and next steps. The purpose of the trial is to demonstrate the noise benefits of RNAV by gathering factual noise data. The trial is proposed to be operated between 01.30 – 05.30 for a period of six months.

The trial will:

  • Demonstrate the noise benefits of using more precise satellite navigation techniques as these could be used to potentially avoid overflight of populated areas and reduce noise.
  • Use new navigation techniques to look at whether the height of arriving aircraft can be increased, and in doing so reduce the noise impact.
  • The trial will also help improve understanding of the benefits and any related issues around using these new navigation techniques.

The trial will not:

  • Place flights over people currently not overflown between these hours.
  • Move a specific point where the inbound aircraft join Gatwick’s instrument landing system.
  • Identify future night flight routes for any future airspace design.
  • Be used to identify routes that would be used to increase capacity or improve efficiency.
  • Introduce an airspace change without consultation.

Following on from the RNN community workshop, members of the NMB will review the outcomes at its April meeting and will decide how to advance plans for the trial at Gatwick. A final decision on whether or not to proceed with the trial in January, as proposed, will be recommended by the NMB in June 2018.

All details of the RNN discussed at NMB are contained within the NMB minutes. 

Departures workshop

On 23 May 2018, the NMB will be holding a Departure workshop, making it the second item specific workshop of the year.

Departures are a key focus in the NMB 2018 workplan, and the objectives of the departures workshop are to:

  • Evaluate the outputs of the ‘Gatwick Airport departures workshop’ 1 June 2017, to understand what further steps could be taken
  • Explore NMB member requests on how departure processes could be improved
  • Assess possible future operations

Attendance at the departures workshop is through the NMB membership, the extended Community Consensus Agreement, and includes GATCOM representation.

Following the meeting, an update will be provided on the Gatwick website. Additionally, the outputs of the workshop will be discussed at the next NMB meeting in June.

Update April 2018

The Noise Management Board (NMB) met at Gatwick on 11 April. Several important NMB noise reduction activities were discussed at the Board. These are well underway as part of the 2017/2018 work plan and intended to contribute to the reduction of noise disturbance from aircraft.

I am also pleased to report that we continue to make good progress in understanding views from communities, and in improving our understanding of specific behaviours and characteristics of aircraft operations.  With this information we are far better placed to plan the introduction of mechanisms and procedures with which we can successfully change those behaviours and characteristics to help reduce noise. 

The NMB reviews the delivery of a range of incremental measures in the work plan that have already been identified and implemented, which are improving noise performance at Gatwick.

A320 aircraft type

Perhaps the most significant of these is a new charging scheme proposed to Gatwick by the Arrivals Review in order to incentivise operators of Airbus A320 series aircraft to adopt an aircraft modification proven to reduce noise.  Having given the airlines over a year to modify their aircraft fleets Gatwick implemented the new financial scheme at the beginning of this year. It is the first airport in the world to introduce this differential charge designed to incentivise noise modifications for this family of aircraft.

During the first three months of 2018, 97% of flights by Airbus A320 series at Gatwick were operated by modified aircraft, which reduced the noise generate by up to 9db compared with an unmodified aircraft. I am pleased to report here that for the first three months of 2018, on average only six arrivals per day were made by aircraft yet to be fitted with the noise reduction modification. I expect this to improve further through this year.

Airport growth

The NMB, reflecting requests from community members, has also added a priority workstream intended to develop a set of metrics, processes and outcomes by which the growth of the airport will be related to reductions in its noise impacts in a proportionate, fair and balanced manner. As a first step, the NMB will be working to identify and agree suitable metrics on which this strategic step can be measured.  In parallel, the capacity issue is being addressed between Community Noise Groups and GAL.

The growth and noise activity, which has already begun, will be one of the priorities carried forward into the 2019 work plan. The NMB is now considering what other priorities can usefully be added to the proposed 2019 work plan. Once again, I expect that the focus will be very much on measures that can lead to noise related improvements.

Reduced Night Noise (RNN)

Another important objective of the NMB, first considered in late 2016, has been to identify viable mechanisms and procedures that are specifically able to reduce noise disturbance from aircraft arriving at night. This has led to the planning of a proposed Reduced Night Noise Trial.

This NMB planning has identified a number of quite complex and key considerations that are being addressed. The NMB intends the trial to learn the lessons from the findings of other noise reduction initiatives at Gatwick. These include Continuous Descent Operations (CDO) and the recently completed study undertaken by Sussex University, related to Height Perception at Gatwick (link).

By taking advantage of sophisticated aircraft management capabilities, the RNN trial is expected to increase the height of arriving aircraft and to enable pilots to operate their aircraft in cleaner configurations, generating less noise at night.

An objective of the proposed trial is, through use of noise monitors and noise modelling, to measure and assess the noise reduction techniques used.  Measurements will be taken at the same locations, both before and after the trial, so that an accurate comparison can be made. The RNN trial will be undertaken for a period of six months in the beginning of 2019 and then discontinued to permit results to be analysed and conclusions to be reached before the NMB decides what further steps could usefully be taken.

The process of identifying and agreeing the specific objectives, quantifiable measurements, and appropriate community safeguards for the trial has proven to be quite challenging for the NMB, which is why more than 18 months after first discussing the concepts, we have not yet finalised NMB views on reducing night noise. I remain optimistic that these issues will be satisfactorily addressed no later than June this year, which could permit the trial to begin in January 2019. 


Lastly, 2018 will see the NMB hosting four issue specific community workshops for representatives from the NMB and the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee. The first of these, discussing RNN, was held in March and provided the chance for industry and communities to share views and perspectives. 

The next workshop, scheduled for May will focus on Departures issues.  Towards the end of the year airspace modernisation will be the focus of a workshop.  

April 2018