Complaints rise as LHR flight trial continues

Central London is suffering a major increase in aircraft noise as Heathrow operator BAA conducts a four month flight pattern trial, according to one London council.
Wandsworth Council has received more than 100 reports of increased aircraft noise from local residents since the ´operational freedom´ tests began on November 2.
During the trial period BAA is permitted to land more planes over central London during established half-day ´respite periods´ when residents would usually get an eight hour break from aircraft noise.
Official trial data now shows that a total of 640 flights have landed during these quiet times as air traffic controllers make use of the relaxed regulations.
Between November 23 and December 14, an average of 23 flights per day landed in breach of the normal rules.
The aim of the trial is to explore ways of making the airport run more efficiently and to cut down on flight delays. It is being monitored by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said: “BAA said they would only land planes during quiet periods if arriving flights faced delays of ten minutes or more. In practice that has meant planes landing out of sequence almost every day. On the worst occasion a total of 45 flights came in over central London when our residents would normally expect a complete break.
“We are closely monitoring all the data produced by BAA so that we can get a clear picture of how these flexibilities are being used and whether their are better ways of managing the demand for runway space at the airport.”
Under the established ´runway alternation´ system Heathrow is only permitted to use one runway for take offs and one for landing. Their use is switched everyday at 3pm to give residents under the flightpath a regular break from overhead flights.
During the trial BAA is allowed to use both runways at the same time for arrivals during busy periods when flights are delayed. This means more flights are coming in to land during the current half-day respite periods.
The testing periods were approved by the South East Airports Taskforce Group which was set up by the Government to explore ways of making airports ´better, not bigger´.
There will be no increase in the overall number of movements at the airport.
The trials is being undertaken by BAA under the supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority.