Farnborough seeks to control airport noise

 - July 31, 2007, 12:17 PM

TAG Aviation has introduced a quiet flying program to reduce noise experienced by neighborhoods around London-area Farnborough Airport. It is running the program, which aims to reduce noise by requiring more accurate flight paths, among other things, on a trial basis between early May and the end of this month. The company intends to have the new arrival and departure procedures formally adopted by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

The Farnborough Quiet Flying Program is the result of a new consultation process with local residents associations that was launched in January by TAG Farnborough chief executive Brandon O’Reilly.

The program was devised through consultation with the residents association and drawn up by Farnborough ATC service provider NATS, along with TAG’s local management and Capt. Alan Brember, chief pilot with TAG Aviation’s charter/management division. Currently Farnborough is in Class G uncontrolled airspace, so pilots can essentially fly as they like subject to safety instructions from controllers. The program is aimed at prescribing more accurate flight paths to see how this might reduce noise levels and it consists of the following elements:

• Operators are encouraged to use fixed electrical or mobile ground power units free of charge rather than using their own aircraft engines or APUs for ground power.
• Aircraft are cleared for departure before reaching the runway so that they can make quick, rolling takeoffs.
• Pilots are required to use their best rate of climb, flying straight ahead for two miles at this rate before turning.
• For arrivals, aircraft are required to get on final approach at least three miles from the runway and to stay on the glideslope without cutting corners over noise-sensitive land.
• No thrust reversers can be used on landing, unless for safety-related reasons.

According to O’Reilly, there were nine fewer noise complaints in May than April, and fewer complainants. Working through the Farnborough Airport Consultative Committee, TAG intends to refine the program before approaching the CAA for approval.  

More Traffic Possible
Meanwhile, Hazel Blears, Britain’s new secretary of state for Communities and Local Government, is due to rule on or before October 31 on the outcome of a public inquiry into TAG’s application to boost the number of movements permitted each year on weekends and holidays from 2,500 to 5,000. In June 2006, the  Rushmoor Borough Council rejected this application; TAG’s subsequent appeal resulted in a public inquiry that was held in April.

Farnborough is limited to no more than 28,000 movements per year. Last year the airport received 21,365 movements, and TAG expects to reach the movements limit before the end of next year. TAG is working on a master plan that will outline how the privately owned airport could be developed through 2030; this will seek to demonstrate how growth could be acceptably managed and how any side effects, including noise, could be mitigated. The master plan will not be published before the secretary of state’s ruling on the application to extend existing movements on weekends.