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Heathrow launches steeper approach trial to reduce noise

Heathrow | Heathrow

3 min read Partner content

Heathrow today announced plans to trial a steeper approach for aircraft landing at Heathrow.

This trial is one of 10 practical steps Heathrow is taking through its Blueprint for Noise Reduction to explore ways to improve the noise climate around Heathrow.  If adopted, it will be the only airport in the UK to introduce steeper approaches as a means to reduce noise on the ground.

The international standard approach for most airports in the world is set at 3 degrees, except for obstacle clearance (e.g. buildings, mountains etc.).Heathrow believes a steeper angle is possible and will lead to quieter approaches to the airport. This has been the experience at Frankfurt airport that has introduced steeper approach angles to reduce noise for people living nearby.

To test whether the implementation of steeper approaches of up to 3.5 degrees at the airport is possible, starting on 17 September 2015 Heathrow will be trialling a slightly steeper approach angle of 3.2 degrees. The trial has been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority and is planned to run until 16 March 2016. While the trial is optional, a large number of airlines that have the necessary standard of navigational equipment for this approach are expected to take part.

Steeper approaches, along with other new operating procedures, and new aircraft technology will ensure that even with expansion at the airport, fewer people around Heathrow would be affected by aircraft noise than today. This was confirmed by the Airports Commission in their recommendation to Government which stated that at least 200,000 fewer people are expected to be within Heathrow’s noise footprint by the time an additional runway opens.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Sustainability and Environment said:  

“Heathrow has changed, and taken a new approach to addressing our impacts on communities, including when it comes to noise. Our Blueprint to cut aircraft noise have been driven by feedback from local communities.  It role is to challenge the industry to think innovatively about ways to reduce noise.

Steeper approaches are just one step in the right direction, and along with other quieter operating procedures and incentives to bring quieter aircraft into operation, will ensure fewer people are affected by noise, even with an expanded airport.”

Heathrow has briefed a range of stakeholders about the trial including the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee and Community Noise forum.  Mobile noise monitors have been specially deployed for the duration of the trial.  A report will be issued following the trial summarising the findings.

Residents around the airport wishing to learn more about the trial are encouraged to contact our Community Relations Team at 0800 344 844  or email

Read the most recent article written by Heathrow - Heathrow calls on industry to use available capacity in fight against COVID-19




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