Luton Airport puts aircraft noise restrictions in place

PUBLISHED: 09:00 05 May 2018

London Luton airport has announced it is continuing its late landing gear trial to reduce noise. Picture: London Luton Airport.

London Luton airport has announced it is continuing its late landing gear trial to reduce noise. Picture: London Luton Airport.

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Luton Airport is placing additional restrictions on night-time flights in an effort to reduce noise pollution.

Andrew Males, author of comedy novel 26 Miles to the Moon, said he was in his garden in Stevenage Old Town for a few minutes but 'got lucky' as he snapped a plane from Luton Airport in front of the supermoon.Andrew Males, author of comedy novel 26 Miles to the Moon, said he was in his garden in Stevenage Old Town for a few minutes but 'got lucky' as he snapped a plane from Luton Airport in front of the supermoon.

According to the airport’s monthly newsletter, the growing demand for air travel has meant that in 2017 they exceeded their projected outline for nighttime noise by 1.5 square kilometres.

To address this, between June 1 and September 30 this year London Luton Airport (LLA) will put new measures in place refusing any ad-hoc flights during the night, preventing operators from rescheduling existing flights from the day to the night and refusing any non-emergency diverts.

The airport has met with complaints from noise campaign groups in St Albans and Harpenden, who have argued that the RNAV navigation system, introduced in 2015, increases noise pollution by concentrating flights over narrower areas.

A statement from LLA CEO Neil Thompson explained the important of balancing increased passenger and flight numbers with the concentration of aircraft noise and the affect it has on local communities.

He said: “To ensure the airport can continue to flourish sustainably we’re also working with noise experts to examine how future growth can be achieved in a balanced way.

“This will include examining what additional mitigation measures can be implemented and whether an application to vary the existing noise contour control is necessary.

“All other controls, which are among the most stringent of any UK airport, will remain unchanged.”

During 2017, the airport received 15,293 complaints relating to noise, with 72 per cent of complaints coming from local people.

Neil said: “We have engaged with everyone who has contacted us about noise either directly, through regular public surgeries, or through updates online and via a regular newsletter.

“I’m really encouraged by the progress we’ve made. A personal highlight is our industry-leading trial of delayed landing gear deployment.

“Some people are surprised to hear that most of the noise that aircraft create on landing comes from the drag produced as it slows down - not from its engines. So we asked pilots to delay the deployment of landing gear to as late as possible to minimise noise for those living near the flightpath.

“Noise is an unavoidable part of an airport’s operations. But as we continue to welcome more passengers, we are committed to collaborating with the local community to find the right balance between the benefits and the impact.

We will keep working hard to be best neighbour that we can.”

The airport has introduced portable noise monitors in the community, and has also committed £100,000 per year to insulate local properties by installing high performance glazing and ventilation units.

However campaigners still feel like the airport is not doing enough to minimise the impact of noise from flights.

Neil McArthur, of campaign group Harpenden Sky, said: “Breaching the nighttime noise limit demonstrates that Luton Airport has continued on the path of unrestrained growth at the cost of blighting local Hertfordshire communities with increased noise and pollution.

“The change will only correct the airport operational error and also only applies between June and September.

“Voters in the upcoming council elections should ensure prospective local councillors are taking positive steps to bring economic pressure on Luton Airport to accelerate real noise alleviation measures.”

Andrew Lambourne, from anti-noise campaign group LADACAN (Luton and District Association of the Control of Aircraft Noise), said: “Any measures to reduce aircraft noise are welcome, and restricting night flights is something we’ve been calling for since expansion started.

“Remember though that flights past St Albans are up 75 per cent since 2013, planes are bigger and heavier, and altitude has reduced. So the best that can be said is that small mitigations make the massive noise increase slightly less bad.

“The most important noise-reduction measures also depend on the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority): redesigning the airspace so Luton planes can climb more quickly to altitude, and creating new departure routes which annoy less people.

“That will take some years but is worth fighting for.”

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