Heathrow noise trial 'helped 100,000 residents'

A passenger jet flies over rooftops as it prepares to land at Heathrow airport in west London About 17 flights arrive at Heathrow each morning between 04:30 and 06:00

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A trial involving early morning flights at Heathrow Airport has found about 100,000 people living under the flight path experienced less noise.

During the five month trial, planes were directed to more defined flight paths to protect people in dedicated areas between 04:30 and 06:00.

But the findings showed some areas such as Brockley in south-east London experienced more night flights.

A report on the trial said it should not continue in its present form.

On average about 17 planes arrive at Heathrow each morning between 04:30 and 06:00.

'Unintended negative outcomes'

Air traffic controllers normally direct these aircraft to achieve the safest and most efficient arrival routes, spreading out their flight paths.

During the trial, which began in December, pilots were directed to avoid flying through certain areas taking part in the experiment.

The findings from the trial, detailed in The Helios Report, said it benefited residents in the south-east and east London as well as many residents of Berkshire.

But it said the trial should not continue and that "pre-trial assessments should be undertaken to predict likely outcomes to better understand the balance of the likely benefits against the unintended negative outcomes".

'Considerable achievement'

The scheme was a partnership between Heathrow, British Airways, the National Air Traffic Service and HACAN, which campaigns against aircraft noise.

John Stewart, the chair of HACAN, said: "This is the first time we have worked with the aviation industry in this way.

"Although the trial had some problems which would need to be addressed in any future experiments, to bring relief to 100,000 people is a considerable achievement."

Matt Gorman, from Heathrow: said: "The results of this trial are very encouraging, showing that by working with local communities and our partners across the airport we can find new ways to bring noise respite to thousands of residents."

These areas covered in the trial included Vauxhall, Wandsworth, Battersea, Clapham Common, Westminster, Bermondsey and Streatham to the east of the airport, and Binfield, Reading, Purley-on-Thames and Winnersh to the west of the airport.

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