Heathrow to trial steeper landings to cut aircraft noise

Heathrow has announced plans to trial a steeper approach for planes landing at Heathrow in a bid to cut aircraft noise. 

Heathrow plans to trial steeper landings in a bid to reduce aircraft noise.
Heathrow plans to trial steeper landings in a bid to reduce aircraft noise.

This trial is one of 10 steps Heathrow is taking through its Blueprint for Noise Reduction to explore ways to improve the noise climate around the airport.

If adopted, it will be the only airport in the UK to introduce steeper approaches as a means to reduce noise on the ground.

The international standard approach for most airports is set at 3 degrees, except for obstacle clearance (e.g. buildings, mountains etc.).Heathrow believes a steeper angle is possible and will lead to quieter approaches to the airport. This has been the experience at Frankfurt airport that has introduced steeper approach angles to reduce noise for people living nearby.

To test whether the implementation of steeper approaches of up to 3.5 degrees at the airport is possible, starting on 14 September, Heathrow will be trialling a slightly steeper approach angle of 3.2 degrees.

The trial has been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority and is planned to run until 16 March. While the trial is optional, a large number of airlines that have the necessary standard of navigational equipment for this approach are expected to take part.

Heathrow claims steeper approaches, along with other new operating procedures, and new aircraft technology will ensure that even with expansion at the airport, fewer people around Heathrow would be affected by aircraft noise than today.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow director of Sustainability and Environment said:

“Heathrow has changed, and taken a new approach to addressing our impacts on communities, including when it comes to noise. Our Blueprint to cut aircraft noise has been driven by feedback from local communities.  It role is to challenge the industry to think innovatively about ways to reduce noise.

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.”

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