Mucho upsettedness among many residents of south west London about trials being conducted by Heathrow airport on its easterly departure routes. Yep, them’s the ones when the planes bank round over Twickenham, Strawberry Hill and Teddington after take off, i.e. the ones that rattle your windows and have you reaching for the volume button on the remote control. The trial is officially called “Easterly departure trial 2”. It began on 28th July and runs through to 15th January 2015.
The purpose? According to Heathrow one objective is to “test the use of performance based navigation”. This involves using new navigation technology to allow aircraft to follow routes more precisely and so place less reliance on air traffic controllers. The second objective of the trial is to test different departure routes “with the ultimate aim of reducing separation on departures”. Nope, we don’t know either. Something about reducing delays on departure and holding times on the ground, according to the airport blurb. Sounds a bit like facilitating more flights too maybe, doesn’t it. Perhaps it’s even also about testing scenarios linked to that third runway thingy.
The new routes being tested are similar to the current paths but some folk, especially those in sunny Teddington seem to have been experiencing lot more noise from a slight but very noticeable westward shift to some of the flight corridors. And of course, following routes more precisely can lead to more concentrated noise in certain areas.
But is there more noise over Twickenham? The planes certainly seem to have been very prevalent and very loud over central and western ‘Nam in recent weeks. Proof of evil intent by Heathrow? Not necessarily. The wind direction plays a key factor in determining the direction of take off and the airport has been running with its ‘easterly operations’ quite a bit recently as a result of the weather conditions so good luck in trying to unpick any impact of the trials compared to Heathrow’s normal operating procedures. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t comment or complain about noise and night flights if you experience disruption or think things have changed as a result of the trials.
The mighty Teddington Town website has a lot of detail on the trials, complete with maps and all, which will give you a better understanding of what’s going on. And blimey O’Riley, they’ve even got a petition up and running to ask for the trials to be stopped. A good point well made is that many locals don’t feel they were sufficiently well informed about the trials and that this has made ‘before and after’ comparisons more difficult. There’s also a fear that this could lead to the new routes being made permanent. Needless to say, Heathrow say that they did contact local authorities, campaign groups and residents about the tests.
There’s plenty of discussion about it on Twitter (including the newly coined hashtag #planeintheass), but what’s your view? You’re saying you didn’t quite hear that? WE SAID… WHAT’S… YOUR…. VIEW… ABOUT… PLANE… NOISE?