Gatwick Obviously

e-newsletter No.89

Our Mission Statement

Full dispersal • • • Maximum altitude • • • Continuous Descent

Night Flight Trial?

Around about a year ago we first heard about the concept of a 'Quiet Night Noise' (!) trial of the satellite controlled flight paths known as PR-NAV or PBN from the industry. Ever wary, we have awaited more details, which have emerged in recent months and weeks. (For clarity, I copy in below the recent comments from the Noise Management Board's section on Gatwick's website).

Now called the 'Reduced Night Noise' trial, it states "…a specific aim of the trial would be to see if - by using new navigation techniques - the height of arriving aircraft can be increased"

While greater altitude makes sense in itself of course, any use of PR-NAV will, without any question, lead to the severe concentration of flight paths. All sides fully accept that. Concentration is absolutely inevitable.

We're not Luddites, and welcome any development that reduces aircraft noise. However GON's very great concern, shared by many Community Noise Groups ('CNGs') is that any trial will also supply data that will in turn be used to introduce PR-NAV on a much wider scale.

PR-NAV could possibly lead to a dispersal of sorts - IF the industry commit to a multitude of tracks over the arrivals swathe. There are no such guarantees as part of this trial.

The NMB notes below state that the trial will not:

But who knows who will be running Gatwick in a year's time? Let alone 5? (PR-NAV generally seems to be about 5 years away) Are these guarantees written in stone?

Do you trust the aviation industry to do what is best for the communities affected?

The GON committee of 14 - a sensible, serious, dedicated group virtually unchanged since we started in the Spring of 2014 - has considered this issue very carefully and at this stage unanimously and very firmly opposes supporting the trial.

The NMB, on which we have a seat, continues to debate its merits and the June meeting will give a go/no-go decision from them. It should be noted that Gatwick can probably try and continue with the trial whatever others say, including the NMB.

We are not alone. All 8 CNG groups on the NMB do not, at this stage, support the trial and delivered the agreed statement below to the NMB Chairman on 6th April. It includes this paragraph:

"We recognise that the trial could achieve some noise benefits by optimising approach profiles. However, we believe these benefits could largely be obtained through better monitoring and management of arriving aircraft and do not require a trial of the sort proposed."

We are not asking you to do anything at this stage, except ready yourself for a call to action if we think it necessary in the near future as the June meeting approaches. The CNG's will be having further meetings and discussions with the industry on this before then.

Swathe use data

Since the arrivals swathe was re-widened in August 2016, (thanks to immense pressure from so many of you and other groups' supporters) we have been pushing for data to measure the use of the swathe. We need to see how it has been used pre-2013, pre-August 2016 and critically, since.

Around a year ago the industry asked us CNG's to propose virtual 'gates' over the arrival swathe for those measurements, which we duly did. However the data still has not been supplied and I can assure you we are pushing extremely hard for it.


Some of you have been asking why the long gap between newsletters recently. It's very simple; We've never believed in campaigning for campaigning sake. There has to be a reason for every newsletter or action. Especially as each newsletter costs funds to send out that you have donated. Rest assured, we will be in touch, like now, when it's right to do so.

Various GON members continue to attend countless meetings at Gatwick and elsewhere on many fronts.

Q&A Drop-in Session

Saturday 5th May 10.30am – 12.30pm
Leicester Arms, Penshurst, TN11 8BT

Please do come by with any questions you may have. I will do my best to answer them. Come straight over to the table, even if you see others there. We've done quite a few of these now and what tends to happen is that a group builds up and it morphs into a general discussion, as well as answering any specific questions.


Martin Barraud
Gatwick Obviously Not

Community Noise Group submission to Noise Management Board re Reduced Night Noise Trial


1 - This paper sets out the views of the NMB Community Noise Groups on the night flight trial proposals described at the RNN workshop held on 14 March 2018. It also offers CNG suggestions on next steps in relation to noise from night flights.

CNG views

2 - We recognise that the trial could achieve some noise benefits by optimising approach profiles. However, we believe these benefits could largely be obtained through better monitoring and management of arriving aircraft and do not require a trial of the sort proposed (see 4.1 below).

3 - We do not support the trial for a range of reasons including:

3.1 - It will concentrate noise impacts along a small number of routes. It is therefore inconsistent with a fundamental CNG principle that noise should, wherever possible, be dispersed on a fair and equitable basis.

3.2 - It involves the further use of PRNAV technology prior to the development of an acceptable set of overarching principles, mechanisms and aims for the deployment of that technology and the associated airspace modernisation, together with a governance framework. Our concerns in this regard were set out in our NMB 9 paper on LAMP 2. We do not believe PRNAV should be further deployed until these have been addressed.

3.3 - The trial does not address the most significant issue associated with night flights, namely that they are excessively concentrated with a particularly harmful impact on communities in earlier periods of the night that are not proposed to be included within the trial.

3.4 - Notwithstanding assurances in the RNN workshop papers, we are concerned that the results of any trial conducted on the current basis could be used to inform LAMP 2 route choices or to justify additional concentration at busier times of the night prior to LAMP 2. We do not believe that the results of the current trial would be sufficiently robust to support any extension of the concepts it is designed to test to additional periods. Because of the low volume of traffic and the lateness of the hours, the trial is not likely to provoke a significant community reaction, nor will it produce a meaningful volume of comments. It could therefore be erroneously judged a success, and used to justify changes at other times of the day potentially resulting in highly significant increases in concentration. 1

3.5 - Alternative design options, including the use of multiple routes and fuller use of available airspace, do not appear to have been considered. This was an important element of our previous comments on the night flight trial, set out in NMB/7 IP10.

3.6 - GAL has declined to confirm that full compensation would be payable to anyone adversely impacted by a permanent change arising from or subsequent to the trial. We have been clear that this is a precondition to our support for any trial.

Next steps

4 - We suggest the following next steps on night noise issues:

4.1 - That GAL develops alternative proposals for achieving the potential benefits of the trial, particularly optimal approach profiles. We would like these to include more intensive monitoring of arriving aircraft, identification of airlines whose aircraft regularly fail to achieve optimal approach profiles and financial incentives to encourage better performance. We believe these arrangements should be applied at all times of day, not just at night. We think more intensive monitoring and associated action would be consistent with the Gatwick AIP requirement that “aircraft shall maintain as high an altitude as practicable” which does not appear to be enforced currently. This work should take account of the conclusions of the CAA’s 2017 paper on arrival noise controls (CAP 1554) but we believe that some of the reservations expressed in that paper can be satisfactorily addressed.

4.2 - That NATS and GAL should develop and bring to the NMB proposals for achieving greater dispersal of aircraft at night, particularly in the busiest times (11.30 pm to 01.30 am). Consistent with GAL’s responsibilities under government airspace policies announced last year this should include a review of options for, and the likely effects of, removing or varying the current noise abatement policy that requires aircraft to join the ILS more than 10 NM from the airport at night1. The review should take account of all aircraft noise that affects people who might be impacted by any change in the noise abatement policy, including departure traffic, and should be consistent with the principles set out by most CNGs in NMB/7 IP10. The review should include wide consultation with currently and potentially impacted communities.

APRIL 20181

1CAGNE do not support the noise abatement policy review proposed in this paragraph 2

NMB update on Reduced Night Noise Trial on Gatwick's website

Reduced night noise trial update

Included in the work plan for the Noise Management Board (NMB), which was adopted in June 2017, is a proposal to explore the possibility of conducting a Reduced Night Noise (RNN) trial.

If the trial goes ahead, it will look at whether more precise satellite navigation techniques could be used to potentially avoid overflight of populated areas and reduce the effects of aircraft noise.

A specific aim of the trial would be to see if - by using new navigation techniques - the height of arriving aircraft can be increased, and in doing so the noise impact reduced.

The proposed trial, which is likely to begin in early 2019, will involve some fine tuning of approach procedures to reduce the noise impact on the ground.

All members of the NMB, including the community groups, have been engaged throughout the development of this activity and will continue to be fully involved as the project plan is developed. This includes a number of NMB facilitated workshops to help develop and refine views. These workshops will continue to include industry and community representatives.

The RNN workshop on 14 March will consider high-level concepts for dispersal by design with RNAV, for discussion and feedback, with further external communication.

If it goes ahead, the trial would be just the first building block in assessing the feasibility of using precise navigation by aircraft on approach to Gatwick to potentially avoid overflight of populated areas and reduce noise.

Preliminary update from RNN community workshop

A Reduced Night Noise Community Workshop was held by the Noise Management Board at Gatwick on 14 March 2018. The workshop began with an overview of RNAV operations, traffic details, design considerations and next steps. The purpose of the trial is to demonstrate the noise benefits of RNAV by gathering factual noise data. The trial is proposed to be operated between 01.30 - 05.30 for a period of six months.

The trial will:

The trial will not:

Following on from the RNN community workshop, members of the NMB will review the outcomes at its April meeting and will decide how to advance plans for the trial at Gatwick. A final decision on whether or not to proceed with the trial in January, as proposed, will be recommended by the NMB in June 2018.

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May 1st 2018

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