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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.


727 easyJet pilots jobs at risk of redundancy as airline proposes closing bases at three UK airports



BALPA, the trade union representing its UK-based pilots, says that easyJet has today informed them that 727 of their pilots are at risk of redundancy.

In addition, the airline is also proposing to completely close its bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports.

The potential job loss would see almost 1-in3 easyJet pilots lose their jobs in the UK.

 In November 2019 easyJet acquired Thomas Cook’s slots at Gatwick Airport (12 summer slot pairs and 8 winter slot pairs) and Bristol Airport (6 summer slot pairs and one winter slot pair) for £36 million.

Brian Strutton, BALPA General Secretary, said:

“We know that aviation is in the midst of the COVID crisis and we had been expecting easyJet to make an announcement of temporary measures to help the airline through to recovery.

“But this seems an excessive over-reaction and easyJet won’t find a supply of pilots waiting to come back when the recovery takes place over the next two years. easyJet paid £174m out to shareholders, got agreements to furlough staff to protect cash, got £600m from the Government, has boasted of having £2.4bn in liquidity, and ticket sales are going through the roof so fast they cannot get pilots back off furlough quickly enough – so why the panic? It doesn’t add up. We are meeting easyJet today and we will be fighting to save every single job.

“This is more evidence that aviation in the U.K. is caught in a death spiral of despair and individual airlines are flailing around without direction. BALPA repeats its call for Government to step in, provide a strategy and back a moratorium on job losses while all stakeholders sort out an holistic way forward for the whole aviation sector.”

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