London Heathrow Airport Will Test Steeper Plane Approaches to Reduce Noise


London’s Heathrow Airport is trialing steeper landing approaches to reduce aircraft noise next month, following British Airways’ Airbus A380 trial flights in May.

The trial, which will start Sept. 14 and has been approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), is planned to run until March 16, 2016. It is one of 10 practical steps Heathrow is taking to explore ways to improve the noise climate around the airport. If adopted, Heathrow will be the only airport in the UK to introduce steeper approaches as a means of reducing noise on the ground.

The aim of the trial is to test whether a steeper approach angle is possible and will reduce noise for people living near the airport. 

The international standard approach to most airports in the world is set at 3 degrees, except for obstacle clearance, but Heathrow will trial a 3.2 degree approach with the aim ultimately of increasing that to 3.5 degrees. Heathrow said that the introduction of steeper approach angles at Germany’s Frankfurt Airport had had a positive impact on noise pollution.

The trial will only affect arriving aircraft on final approach into Heathrow, but should position those aircraft between 300 and 500 feet higher when they are 10 miles from touchdown using the 3.2 degree approach than they would be using the conventional approach angle. It will be used on all four runway approaches (27R, 27L, 09R, 09L).

While the trial is optional, Heathrow expects “a large number of airlines that have the necessary standard of navigational equipment for this approach” to take part.

Steeper approaches, combined with other new operating procedures and new aircraft technology, are aimed at ensuring that, even with proposed expansion of the airport, fewer people around Heathrow would be affected by aircraft noise.

Heathrow director of sustainability and environment Matt Gorman said: “Steeper approaches are just one step in the right direction, and along with other quieter operating procedures and incentives to bring quieter aircraft into operation, will ensure fewer people are affected by noise, even with an expanded airport.”

Source: Air Transport World