[Avionics Today July 16, 2014] The Air Traffic Management (ATM) firm for the United Kingdom, NATS, has announced it will be leading the new "Quieter Flight" project. The study will attempt to develop operational procedures to reduce aircraft noise at London's Heathrow Airport.
NATS is partnering with Airbus and British Airways to proceed new methods for reducing the noise impact of aircraft arriving and departing on communities surrounding Heathrow Airport. Airbus ProSky, the aircraft manufacturer's ATM subsidiary, will be responsible for designing new departure and arrival procedures based on NATS' recommendations.
“The A380 is the ideal aircraft for this project as it has unique operational capabilities that can be adjusted to reduce noise during takeoff and landing. The next step for the Quieter Flight partnership is to train our pilots to use the optimized noise procedures in the simulator and then to test these improvements in flight trials," said Dean Plumb, manager of the environmental strategy division at British Airways.
Engines used in newer commercial airframes such as the A380 and Boeing's 787 are much quieter than their predecessors. However, with airlines flying mixed fleets that feature older aircraft and older engines, noise remains a problem. Aircraft noise reduction is also one of the main goals of the NextGen project in the United States and the Single European Sky project in Europe.
"Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle aircraft noise, and collaborations such as this form part of our long term commitment to do this whilst also safeguarding the connectivity and growth that Heathrow provides," said Matt Gorman, sustainability director for Heathrow Airport.
The Quieter Flight project will be launched in three phases. During the first phase, the project team will evaluate possible operational improvements, such as reducing thrust and optimizing the height at which the aircraft is flown. Then, British Airways will introduce the procedures identified in the first phase into its flight training operations, using a flight simulator. Lastly, the team will start flying demonstration flights using the A380 early next year. If the new procedures prove viable, they will then be made available to other operators and airports worldwide.
“Air traffic management has a vital role to play in tackling the impact of aircraft noise," said Ian Jopson, head of environmental and community affairs at NATS. The Quieter Flight partnership, brings together the expertise of the whole industry, and when combined with the wide range of other initiatives we are working on, will help make a difference to those people living under the flight path."