Quieter departure procedures

Aircraft take off at a steep angle to gain height quickly, then pull in the flaps and reduce the climb rate to accelerate at a shallower angle. The height at which this happens is known as the “acceleration altitude” and has an impact on engine and airframe wear, and on fuel consumption. It also has an impact on noise experienced on the ground. LADACAN is campaigning for an open and transparent assessment, in the context of this airport and its local communities, to determine what is best for people not just best for airlines.

If cleared by air traffic control for continuous climb, aircraft can then continue up to 7,000ft and beyond. But if other aircraft are flying above them, Luton departures can be held low at 4,000ft and 5,000ft for very extended distances, increasing low-level noise and pollution, and wasting fuel by flying far less efficiently. LADACAN is campaigning for changes which will enable aircraft to climb continuously provided that the increased engine noise does not make things worse for people on the ground – again open and transparent analysis is required.

Many of Luton’s departures are held low in this way because of the antiquated design of airspace in the south-east, and the fact that Heathrow flights go over the top of Luton’s departure routes. LADACAN is campaigning for the Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority to speed up this long-delayed redesign of airspace to benefit those who are needlessly subject to low-level aircraft noise.

To sort this out, the Airport is designing new route options and respite routes, BUT says it is unable to make radical changes due to government policy. The London Gliding Club to the west of the airfield owns airspace which apparently prevents Luton flights taking off west from avoiding Hertfordshire villages. All this needs to be challenged, and people affected by Luton Airport noise need to write to their MPs to put pressure on the airport and the government agencies to make changes which will improve things for people on the ground.