Monday, 20 November 2017

Aircraft noise around Henley 'should improve'

AEROPLANES landing at Heathrow should cause fewer noise problems for Henley in future, says an airport chief.

AEROPLANES landing at Heathrow should cause fewer noise problems for Henley in future, says an airport chief.

Environmental director Matt Gorman says improvements in technology may allow aircraft to avoid flying over the town.

Others could pass at higher altitude before descending at a sharper angle, making them less audible from the ground.

Mr Gorman, who lives in Henley, was addressing a meeting of about 80 residents at the Christ Church Centre on Thursday last week.

Henley MP John Howell called the meeting after receiving complaints about noise from aircraft over the town in the autumn.

When the wind blows from the east, half the flights arriving at Heathrow perform a 180 degree turn about 4,000 ft above Henley.

This is called ?easterly operations? and applies 30 per cent of the time because Britain?s winds come mostly from the west. At other times, planes come in from the west and turn over London.

Mr Gorman accepted there was a temporary increase in flights over Henley last autumn because the wind blew from the east more often than usual.

He said more airlines were switching to newer, quieter aircraft so that older, noisier jumbo jets would be phased out within about a decade.

He said: ?We are at the beginning of a significant change in fleet in the same way that the old jumbo jets originally replaced noisier aircraft. New planes are coming to us in significant numbers as airlines usually put them on Heathrow routes immediately.

?More than 98 per cent of our aircraft meet the latest noise standards whereas the European average is nearer 80 per cent.

?We also charge operators less for quieter aircraft than loud ones and are now under consultation to increase that differential. We confidently expect that trend to continue.

?We know there are particular concerns about early arrivals as it only takes one plane to wake someone up but most airlines are starting to use their quietest aircraft on these flights because that is the best time for it.?

Britain?s flight paths are due to be overhauled as they were designed at a time when aeroplanes navigated using radio waves. They now have satellite-based systems and can be tracked more precisely so air traffic can be put on narrower paths.

This means planes on easterly operations could turn before Henley or follow a new course entirely.

Mr Gorman said: ?We are asking whether there are opportunities to have a number of different routes and alternate between them.

?We are also looking at whether planes could come in at a steeper angle.

Frankfurt now does this as standard and we are planning on trialling something similar in the autumn, We have already trialled steeper approaches for early morning arrivals. It may take a while to introduce it on a full scale but we are working on it.?

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