Luton Airport noise campaign set to pay off

Luton Airport is suggesting changes to a flight path above St Albans district. This shows the propos

Luton Airport is suggesting changes to a flight path above St Albans district. This shows the proposed 2km-wide flight path which avoids densely populated areas in St Albans - Credit: Image supplied by Luton Airport

Plane noise looks set to plummet dramatically for beleaguered St Albans residents with Luton Airport bowing to campaigners’ calls for flight path changes.

Its operators have announced a proposal to cut the width of a route over the district from three kilometres to two kilometres.

It also wants planes to fly at a higher altitude of 4,000ft as opposed to the current 3,000ft flown over densely populated areas.

If the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) agrees to the proposals, it will result in about an 80 per cent reduction in the number of people overflown.

And those airlines snubbing the changes risk being penalised by the airport.

Luton Airport’s managing director Glyn Jones said that local communities needed to be protected from excessive plane noise.

An added benefit of the suggested changes is that, if adopted, 290 tonnes of fuel – £250,000 worth – and 885 tonnes of CO2 would be saved annually.

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The airport’s proposals relate to departures leaving Luton to the west, along the Clacton/Dover/Detling flight routes. This affects about 70 flights a day.

Aircraft flying these routes depart from runway 26, which is used when the wind is from a westerly direction, until they reach a reporting point known as the Brookmans Park beacon where they diverge onto Clacton, Dover or Detling flight routes.

But Luton has admitted that planes have been deviating from the route’s centreline and flying over densely populated parts of St Albans.

As a result, it is suggesting introducing navigation technology to enable aircraft to fly the centreline more precisely. There would be a slight modification of the route’s centreline, so the proposed path passes between Markyate and Flamstead, Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead, and St Albans and Harpenden.

If approved by the CAA, most of Redbourn and Flamstead would no longer be within the corridor.

The daytime vectoring altitude would be raised to 4,000ft to ensure planes fly within the swathe for longer.

The step follows years of pressure from local campaigners who, backed by the Herts Advertiser, have raised concerns about planes flying off-track and too low over densely populated areas, contrary to government recommendations.

Luton undertook trials last year, one testing planes flying at 210 knots and the second trying 220 knots.

Both trials showed that aircraft could successfully and consistently fly within the suggested changed path, thereby avoiding flying directly over densely populated areas.

The airport is consulting upon its changes until July 9.