RNAV review

Between now and end of July 2017, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will be collecting data ready to review the effectiveness of the first RNAV “GPS-based navigation” route implementation at Luton Airport in meeting its design objectives. Data gathering will include complaints figures as well as technical information about track-keeping.

RNAV was introduced because airports need to move to more accurate navigation in order to meet air traffic safety requirements as the skies become ever-more crowded. Locally, it was convenient also to tie it to an attempt to “tidy up” the wide dispersal of aircraft on this route. Unfortunately, creating a very narrow “wall of noise” between closely spaced communities has actually sensitised many people to the aircraft noise.

The rise in complaints has been dramatic, and as a result the airport operators are looking at ways to alleviate the noise problem. Various options have been discussed:

  • reroute the aircraft – short term we are told this is impossible due to the interlock with flights from Stansted, Heathrow, Northolt and London City
  • switch off RNAV and disperse the tracks again – we are told this is impossible because RNAV has to be adopted on all routes going forwards
  • increase the altitude of the planes – this is being investigated and LADACAN has insisted that possible impacts due to increased throttle earlier on are investigated
  • provide respite routes – whilst theoretically possible, in practice there is little option unless aircraft fly over community A one day and community B the next

If you have been adversely affected by RNAV on the westerly departures route, make a complaint to the airport operators – see our Complaints page.