CAA report confirms Heathrow’s noise footprint is smaller than ever before

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The FINANCIAL — Analysis from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), commissioned by Heathrow as part of their on-going Noise Action Plan commitments, shows that average noise contours annually are smaller than they have been since 2006. The launch of the report comes on the first week of Heathrow’s Steeper Approaches trial, the UK’s first attempt to adopt this approach to reduce noise for people on the ground.

Over the past 9 years, the area around the airport affected by higher levels of night noise (measured by 60dB Lnight), has decreased by 25%. This has resulted in 25% fewer households affected by these noise levels at night. Had the population and households remained static during this period, there would be 42% fewer homes affected by these noise levels at night, according to Heathrow.

The area affected by average noise measurements over the course of a 24 hour operating day, as measured using the preferred European measure of noise (55dB Lden), has shrunk by 14%. That is equivalent to a decrease of 15% of homes affected by noise (or 18% if the population and households had remained static during this period).

The use of new planes and quieter procedures between 2006 and 2014 are part of the measures driving the reductions in the noise footprint. To continue improvements, Heathrow has this week begun trialling steeper approaches for 6 months, in which aircraft fly higher for longer before landing at the airport. Steeper approaches introduced at airports such as Frankfurt have shown this can reduce noise for people living under flight paths.

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Although Heathrow’s noise footprint is smaller than it’s been at any time since the 1970s, the airport continues to work with airlines, regulators and local communities to make the skies around the airport even quieter.  Heathrow’s Noise Blueprint, a plan which outlines ten practical steps to cut noise by 2015 and challenges aircraft to be quieter, sooner, and ensure fewer people are affected by noise, even with an expanded airport.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director for Sustainability and Environment says:

“Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise and these  latest contours are testament to the efforts of Heathrow and our airline and manufacturing partners to reduce the impact of the operations. But we won’t stop here. We know there’s more we can do through initiatives like our steeper approaches trial, and we will continue to push all those operating at Heathrow to be industry leaders in reducing noise.”

The Prime Minister’s Airports Commission has stated that at least 200,000 fewer people  are expected to be within Heathrow’s noise footprint by the time an additional runway opens. It endorsed Heathrow’s new approach to expansion, developed in consultation with residents, saying “an expanded Heathrow would be a better neighbour for local communities than the airport is today.”


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