Noise concerns dominate Edinburgh airspace change proposals in listening bid

shutterstock_383438695_hd_desktopProposals to change flight paths above Edinburgh to boost operational benefits while minimising community impact have been greeted with concern by people wary of the potential impact of noise over their homes, an early listening exercise has revealed.

The changes being proposed could affect the profiles of aircraft arriving and departing from Edinburgh airport below 7,000ft above ground level (AGL) and are, according to the airport, fundamental to its continued development.

Today’s conventional route structure relies on the 1950s technology of VOR and NDB radio beacons. More modern navigation systems can now provide RNAV which uses a combination of satellite and ground-based navigation technology to permit aircraft to follow a precisely defined path over the ground with far greater accuracy than is possible with conventional routes.

“The benefits of RNAV are well documented and the replacement of conventional routes with equivalent RNAV routes is in accordance with government and international,” the airport stated at the outset, adding, “this proposal seeks to replace the existing conventional routes with RNAV routes.”

ED1This is the first time in 40 years the airport has consulted on altering flight paths and the exercise has sought to secure the public’s views on what the airport believes is the best place to position them.

In an initial report on its Airspace Change Programme as a follow up to the consultation launched in June, Edinburgh airport said it had received 5,880 responses, comprising 89 from stakeholders and 5,791 from the public.

An initial analysis broke responses into 23 key categories such as noise, health, local pollution and environmental issues. Responses were then further analysed and broken down into sub themes e.g. within the noise category there were many concerns including general comments around potential increased noise pollution and concerns specifically over night and early morning flights.

Government guidance provides generic objectives for airspace changes, such as the need to overfly the fewest people below 7,000ft above ground level (AGL) and to be as efficient as possible (i.e. minimising or not increasing COemissions) above 7,000ft.

However while the governmental guidance provides a starting point, the airport said it recognised that there may be specific local factors which could also have an influence on the optimum position of the routes.

“It is these local factors that this consultation seeks to identify, record and understand,” it said. “Feedback from this consultation will inform the detailed design process and will influence the design options.”

ED2Once draft routes have been designed, a further consultation scheduled for early 2017 will take place where the airport said it would give members of the public the opportunity to comment on the detailed design options that it has developed taking account of their feedback.

After the second consultation, Edinburgh airport will submit an airspace change proposal to the UK CAA in which it must demonstrate that the proposed design achieves the best balance possible for all.

If the proposal is approved by the UK CAA, implementation of the proposal will take place by December 2017.

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