Following almost a yearlong trial of two flight paths from Birmingham Airport, the Airport has submitted its findings and preferred flight path option, known as ‘Option 6’, to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The trial was carried out to ascertain the actual impact of the two potential flights paths and decide on a new southbound routeing that was required as a result of the runway extension, which opened last year. As the runway was extended further south, a change of aircraft routeing after take-off to the south ensued, which meant a change for some communities.
In line with the CAA’s future Airspace Strategy, both routes were designed using the latest RNAV1 criteria to allow aircraft to fly more precisely. Birmingham Airport is an early adopter of RNAV1, which is expected to be common practise across all UK airports by 2019.
The main objective of the trail was to assess the difference in the noise climate of two potential options – Option 5 and Option 6 - on the communities of Barston and Balsall Common, specifically whether or not the difference between both options was significant in each community. ‘Significant’ was defined as a difference of more than 3dB(A).
The trial concluded that there was no significant difference in the village of Barston of either route. However, there was a significant difference between Option 5 and Option 6 in Balsall Street East, with Option 6 having a perceivably lower impact in Balsall Street East than Option 5.
Additionally, aircraft on departure from Birmingham Airport are required to fly within a 3km wide Noise Preferential Route (NPR) until they reach 3000ft in height. Knowing that RNAV1 technology would mean aircraft would fly more precisely, the Airport also made a commitment to look at reducing the NPR to 2km from 3km. The trail gave the Airport evidence that aircraft flew ‘on-track’ in excess of 99% for both Option 5 and Option 6 using a revised 2km swathe. The Airport has also therefore recommended to the CAA that this remains a 2km NPR going forward.
David Winstanley, the Airport’s Chief Operating Officer, said:
“The trial was a sensible way to understand the actual noise profiles of both routes and give greater insight on the most appropriate option. Using this knowledge, we have been able to take a more informed decision and put forward our preference to the CAA for the permanent use of Option 6.
“We have been engaging with the local in Barston and Balsall Common throughout the trial and we would like to thank them for their time, feedback and willingness to work with us to get a better understanding of the community impacts.
“We are now being asked to provide advice to other UK airports that are embarking on the Airspace Change process and offer real evidence gained by the trial and communication with our neighbours.”
The CAA will now assess the Airport’s submission as part of the Airspace Change Process framework over the next 16 weeks. The CAA has the final decision over the new flight path.
This trial was part of its Airspace Change Proposal, which was first launch and consulted on in January 2013.
Full details of the trial and its findings can be found on the Airport’s website, www.birminghamairport.co.uk