Stewart Wingate: Noise Disturbs 800,000

In relation to the Government’s ongoing use of the 57 leq noise contour, its worth noting that even Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, doesn’t actually believe the 57leq contour shows the number of people truly effected by the noise of his planes according to comments made by M A Knowles from Penshurst Parish Council, our neighboring Parish.to the west. (See http://bit.ly/1k2puK2) M A Knowles, reporting on the recent Noise Seminar for Gatwick on 19th March writes:

“Although these affairs tend to be a self-congratulatory pat on the back from the airport’s chief executive (Stewart Wingate) and his underlings it did enable me to confront them on a number of issues.

Stewart Wingate opened the meeting by extolling all the good things about the airport’s operations: modern quiet jets; few people affected by aircraft noise, consultation procedures with stakeholders such as the London Airspace Consultation etc. He was also pleased to announce that fewer people (up to 65% amounting to around 450,000 – 500,000) would be affected by overflying aircraft and all benefitting by a new departure system known as Precision Area Navigation (P-RNAV for short). This will replace the current system known as ‘standard instrument departure routes’ (the airport using the unfortunate acronym for this as SIDS). All this means is that some hapless individuals will find a concentration of aircraft departing overhead on narrower flight paths due to new technology almost, in my opinion, in line with the proposals in the London Airspace Consultation. I was able to congratulate Mr Wingate on his refreshing approach as it was the first time we had heard the chief executive admit exactly how many people were actually affected by overflying aircraft from Gatwick Airport and if my calculation were correct he is actually admitting there are around 800,000. I asked further how that reconciled with the ANCON 57dBa contours that are used to convince everyone that only a few thousand people are affected – as far as compensation is concerned. A bit of waffle from the CEO quickly closed that particular questions and answers session.”

And remember, that’s just people effected from the noise of departures.

M A Knowles continues:

“I was also able to take issue with Alistair Wilson (easyJet Flight Operations Regulatory Affairs Captain) over the debilitating whine from their feet of Airbus A 319/320/321 series of aircraft. We heard that easyJet were evaluating the proposed modifications and would reach a decision as regards their own aircraft as and when all the data had been received. He also confirmed what we already knew in that 85 of their Airbus jets were being replaced and deliveries from May would have the underwing modification to suppress the airframe noise that is so persistent on the long approach to landing.

There was no comfort from Kate Jennings (Head of Aviation Policy Implementation, Department for Transport) that anything will be done about night flights in the foreseeable future save to protect the status quo in favour of current operations. The ANCON Leq 57dBa contour was briefly mentioned by her, and other presenters, but you had the distinct impression that this was a mystical subject best left undiscussed like “ The Emperor’s’ New Clothes.’’

In their business plan, Gatwick’s stated intention is to double night flights over the next couple of years.

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