Reply from Heathrow’s Chief Executive on aircraft noise

23rd October 2015

The Rt Hon John Redwood MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr Redwood

Thank you for your recent letter.

Since we last spoke, we’ve now received the report from the independent consultant on flight patterns affecting the Wokingham area. This analysis is one of the first of a series of reports that is being produced as part of the new monitoring programme launched in coordination with the Community Noise Forum, which we established earlier this year. It will be shared at the full meeting of the Forum on 5th November. I have enclosed a copy of the report for you.

It shows that on departure aircraft are on average 1,000ft higher compared with 10 years ago, however there are more of them over this area (on average 45 flights per day). The main reason for this is an increase in the number of flights going to destinations in the Americas.

When the airport is on easterly operations, the analysis confirms that there is a higher density of departing aircraft over particular areas because of the procedural change NATS made to the Compton route in June 2014. I know that, like me, you want to see this procedure reversed. In my discussions with NATS they have reiterated that this change was made to enhance safety. It also means controllers can get aircraft higher, quicker on departure because it reduces the interaction between arrivals and departures.

For arrival on easterly operations – the source of your constituent’s concerns outlined in the letters you enclosed – there are no set routes or heights for arrival aircraft before they join the final approach path. This results in a large spread of arrival tracks across a number of areas which the analysis shows.

I appreciate this is a complicated issue but I hope the analysis will be helpful in explaining why some residents feel they experience more-flight now in particular areas. This monitoring programme will carry on alongside other actions Heathrow is taking to reduce the impact of noise from its operations through our Blueprint for noise reduction, which includes trialling steeper approaches to keep aircraft higher for longer and fitting quiet technology to A320s.

Finally, I would like to put your constituent’s mind at rest that the air quality in Wokingham will not be affected by aircraft emissions from Heathrow. Once in the air, emissions from aircraft disperse rapidly and once above 500-600 feet, the contribution and they make to local air quality is negligible.

I would be happy to meet to discuss these issues in more detail.

Yours sincerely

John Holland-Kaye
Chief Executive Officer

1 Comment

  1. Alan Wheatley
    November 2, 2015

    BBC News this morning reports fog at Heathrow causing flight cancellations. Meanwhile, Glasgow Prestwick airport is unaffected by bad weather and no sign of weather being a problem in the outlook forecast.

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