Improved operational procedures have reduced the size of Gatwick Airport’s noise footprint by 7% in 2018 compared with the previous year, according to the annual noise exposure contour analysis carried out by the civil Aviation Authority. The airport says this has been achieved by smoother descents that reduce drag and use less power plus the phasing out of service of the noisiest aircraft and the introduction of the next generation of quieter airliners.
Using the nationally recognised standard measurement (54 dBA Local Environmental Quality [Leq]), Gatwick’s noise footprint shrank from 31.9sq miles (82.7km²) to 29.8sq miles (77.1km²) in 2018 – compared to 2017 – with the number of people living within the noise contour also falling to 10,200 from 10,950. These latest figures mean that over the last 20 years the airport’s noise footprint has been reduced by 48%.
Future noise reductions at Gatwick will continue to be driven by the continued introduction of next-generation airliners such as the Airbus A320neo Family and A350, as well as Boeing 787 – which are up to 50% quieter than their predecessors. With airlines operating more of these aircraft types, it is estimated they will make up 86% of the total fleet by 2032/33, up from 3% in 2017/18.
Andy Sinclair, Gatwick’s head of airspace, said: “We are making good progress against our objective of reducing the impact that aircraft noise has on our local communities, but we recognise that more must be done. Over time, aircraft noise has dramatically reduced at Gatwick and over the next few years we expect to see further improvements as more next-generation aircraft are introduced. The large-scale redesign of airspace across southeast England is also under way and has the potential to significantly reduce noise impacts around the airport.”