Cannes Airport Tackles Noise Complaints

 - May 2, 2012, 4:10 AM
The A-Tech computer program overlays the aircraft track during approach or departure, with a record of noise produced at any point during the pattern.

Cannes-Mandelieu Airport has apparently reached an accommodation with its neighbors, who threatened to shut down the airport permanently four years ago. According to Umberto Vallino, marketing and statistics manager for the airport, the key is a noise-abatement effort launched in April using a computer program developed by A-Tech Acoustic Technologies of Brussels, Belgium.

While the days of double-digit growth at the airport ended with the recession, Cannes-Mandelieu still records some 12,000 business aircraft movements a year. During peak activity in May, July and August, the airfield can see as many as 2,000 movements a month.

Despite concessions–no aircraft with mtow exceeding 48,501 pounds, largely daylight-only ops, strictly enforced approach and departure procedures and no reverse thrust or prop pitch beyond idle power–noise has remained a point of contention.

The airport has therefore established an office of environmental studies and neighborhood relations to oversee the A-Tech. The package includes five permanent noise sensors on the approach and departure routes, with a sixth mobile sensor available to fill in where needed, with noise measured in dB(A), which records not only noise levels but also their duration.

According to Claire Rousseau, head of environmental issues, the noise sensors also interface with airport radar to trace excessive noise to the offender. “If an aircraft exceeds the maximum noise levels, we contact the pilot and I sit down with him to discuss the matter and how he might have flown the pattern differently,” explains Rousseau. “If there is a noise complaint by a resident, and we did record unacceptable noise levels on the date and time of the complaint, I speak with those who complained and assure them we will take steps to see that it does not happen again.” Each complaint is treated “on a case-by-base basis with total objectivity,” she emphasized.

“This contributes to the quality of the dialogue and establishes in the community the relevance of our anti-noise program.” Cannes-Mandelieu is one of 10 airports in France equipped with a similar system to document aircraft noise on approach and departure.

Airports Emphasize Environmental Concerns

While relations with residents around Cannes-Mandelieu have improved, Rousseau has not noticed a drop in the number of noise complaints by airport neighbors. However, she points out that this may stem from increased awareness linked to wider dissemination of information throughout the adjacent neighborhoods. Perhaps more welcome are e-mails received from some residents expressing appreciation of the airport’s efforts.

Noise is not the sole environmental concern at the airport. Cannes-Mandelieu has also accepted a ban on extending the 5,282-foot main Runway 17/35 and limits movement to four takeoffs and four landings an hour. Cannes-Mandelieu is also ISO14001 certified, subscribing to the minimum standards of ecological management, and its biannual Latitude newsletter reports on issues of environmental importance.

The airport has continued to grow and make improvements, with one new 4,756-sq-ft aircraft storage hangar already completed on the north zone, two more of the same size under construction and a fourth planned. Also recently finished is a project to provide electricity to all 24 aircraft parking stands adjacent to the terminal, eliminating the need for APUs.