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Gatwick’s noise footprint shrinks following initiative to modify noisy aircraft

It’s good news but more still needs to be done.



The Noise Management Board first met two years ago and its initiative to modify the A320 family of aircraft so they make less noise has helped to reduce the area of Gatwick’s noise footprint by 3% in 2017 – compared to 2016 – according to the annual independent noise contour analysis by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The reduction in noise has occurred despite the number of aircraft increasing by 1% over the same period.

Using the nationally recognised standard measurement (57dB leq) – the reduction in Gatwick’s noise footprint over the last 20 years has been:

• 2017 42.6Km2 3,400 people
• 2007 46.7km2 4,800 people
• 1997 86.1km2 12,300 people
The independent NMB brings the local community and the aviation industry together within a formalised structure and is considered to be an industry-leading approach to managing noise issues at a local level.

The NMB initiative contributing to the shrinking noise footprint saw the A320 family of aircraft modified so that they no longer made a pitched whine sound during parts of their approach to landing.

These aircraft currently fly more than half of all Gatwick flights but – following a change in financial charges to encourage airlines to use quieter aircraft – 97% of A320s have now been adapted, reducing the noise and generating positive feedback from local communities.

In terms of future noise reductions, the next generation of these aircraft (A320neo/ A321neo) are up to 50% quieter than their predecessors and have started to come into service at Gatwick.

Andy Sinclair, Gatwick’s Head of Airspace, said:

“The reduced noise footprint is welcome and demonstrates encouraging progress but we also recognise that noise continues to be an issue for local residents and we will push on with our challenge to reduce noise further.

“Some of the work we are progressing will deliver further improvements over both the short and longer term. This includes the large scale redesign of London and Gatwick’s airspace, which has the potential to reduce noise from the airport further still.”

Bo Redeborn, Chairman of the Noise Management Board, said:

“The NMB’s reason for being is to improve life for those affected by noise from aircraft flying in and out of Gatwick and the airport’s shrinking noise footprint suggests that we are starting to make some progress toward this aim.

“For example, a Continuous Decent Approach (CDA) means that aircraft use less thrust and generate less noise by descending at a continuous rate, rather than a stepped approach, and the CDA conformance at Gatwick was raised for all arrivals from 6000 to 7000 ft to reduce noise even further. Next generation aircraft that are up to 50% quieter have also started flying at Gatwick and over the next few years these will become the workhorses of the airport and will help reduce noise even more.”

The 2017 annual independent noise contour analysis
An update from NMB 11 (June 27 2018) can be found here.
An overview of the NMB can also be found here.


Two hundred local pupils attend Eco summit at Crawley school

The Gatwick sponsored ‘Eco, Young, and Engaged’ (EYE) conference saw eight local schools and 200 pupils from Crawley and Horsham attend Ifield Community College on Monday to get a practical understanding of the environment and the importance of sustainability.



Aged between six and seventeen, pupils chose between 13 workshops where they could learn about making their own compost and the wildlife within it, and about the effect that different clothing materials have on the environment and therefore which ones are more sustainable to buy and wear.

Other workshops included practical team challenges on how to upcycle (reuse) everyday items – such as using old milk bottles as planters for herbs – and how to harness the power of both wind turbines and solar panels to generate electricity.

The conference is part of the wider EYE campaign which seeks to bring schools in West Sussex together to focus on the importance of caring for our planet – to promote sustainability and encourage young people’s interest in environmental issues.

Gatwick’s Head of Sustainability, Rachel Thompson, gave an introductory talk on what sustainability is and its importance for protecting the environment.  She also discussed Gatwick’s ‘Decade of Change’ report, which tracks the airport’s progress on ten sustainability targets set over a ten year period (2010 to 2020), and explained how Gatwick’s buildings and fleet are carbon neutral.

The sponsorship of the conference is part of Gatwick’s wider community engagement programme which aims to make lasting and positive impacts to local communities and young people. Gatwick is also partnering with 15 local schools as part of the Primary Engineer programme to help schools teach STEM-based subjects in a more relatable and practical way to inspire more students to study the subjects.

Rachel Thompson, Head of Sustainability, Gatwick Airport said:

“It was great to see the enthusiasm of the students and hear their excellent questions and ideas. We hope today’s event will inspire more eco school projects and also encourage more students to consider studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects and pursuing careers in sustainability.”

Irram Ali, Ifield Community College Eco Lead, said:

“It was an honour to have been able to host the first Eco-Summit in Crawley. At Ifield Community College we are focused on encouraging our students to proactively engage with environmental issues and this was an excellent opportunity for such engagement to take place. All students were passionate and enthused and will hopefully implement some of their new knowledge in our local schools and community.”

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