Heathrow airport’s forthcoming Fly Quiet initiative will see airlines that use the facility ranked by the level of noise that their aircraft produce.
The rankings will provide an overview of those airlines that are currently exceeding the permitted noise levels and work as a basis for a system of fines for the worst offenders. Fly Quiet will also involve some experimentation with alternative departure routes and steeper approaches, and the establishment of a noise insulation scheme for neighbouring homes and offices, when it gets under way later this year.
Colin Matthews, chief executive at Heathrow commented, ‘Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise and, as a result, even though the number of flights has almost doubled since the 1970s, fewer people are affected by noise.’ He added that noise reduction was an on-going priority for the airport that involved consultation with all affected parties.
Current regulations stipulate that aircraft that are classified among the noisiest are not allowed to land or take off between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am, which is designated as the ‘night period.’ The ‘night quota period,’ which operates between 11.30 pm and 6 am, is when other aircraft movements are limited by number and by an authorised noise level.
In addition to being the busiest of the UK’s airports, Heathrow is also situated in one of the most densely populated locations compared to other airports, including Stansted and Gatwick. These two conflicting factors mean that noise levels at the airport, especially at night, have long been a contentious issue.