Review tells Gatwick what can be done to cut aircraft noise


An Independent Review of Arrivals at Gatwick Airport has today set-out its recommendations to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on local people.

Gatwick received a flood of complaints when narrower flight paths were introduced.  The majority of flights approach the airport over East Sussex and West Kent because of the prevailing wind direction.

The recommendations include using a different type of descent commonly used by night flights at Heathrow and modifications to aircraft.

Bo Redeborn, who led the review, and Graham Lake, the technical adviser, addressed Crowborough residents at All Saints Church back in October.

Gatwick meeting
Wealden MP Nus Ghani with Bo Redeborn and Graham Lake at All Saints Church in Crowborough

The review summarises the conclusions of a four month consultation and technical exercise to determine whether more could be done to lessen the impact of noise and improve engagement between Gatwick and the community.

Bo Redeborn said:

The review team has been struck by the positive and constructive inputs to the study by all those involved, and it is our strong hope and belief that this report will provide a basis on which all concerned can move forward in that spirit to deliver a significantly better situation for the residents living close to the airport’s flight paths.

“We wish to record our sincere thanks to the many individuals and organisations that have contributed their views to permit the development of these findings and recommendations.

The review has proposed a timeframe for the introduction of its recommendations, many of which could be operational within a twelve month period, and include:

  • reduced aircraft holding over land
  • improved use of continuous descent arrivals generating significantly less noise and increased flexibility for sequencing and spacing of arrivals
  • accelerated aerodynamic modification for the Airbus A320 family of aircraft to reduce the noise they produce during the approach phase of flight
  • the establishment of a noise management board to oversee joint strategies to deal with noise around the airport; and;
  • development of a comprehensive online complaint management system

Gatwick has welcomed the proposal for the establishment of a noise management board as the first step in this process.  The board is intended to include representatives from Gatwick Airport, the CAA, NATS, elected council members and residents’ representatives, and would operate under an independent chair.

Gatwick Airport Chairman Sir Roy McNulty said:

I am grateful to Bo and Graham for their Report and the way they have approached the task.  As an airport we recognise our responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the noise impact on local people – in particular, those people who are most affected.  That is why we commissioned an independent review last summer looking at aircraft arrivals to see what more can be done.  While the number of people significantly affected by noise at Gatwick is relatively low for an airport of its size, we want to improve further.

This report sets out 23 practical steps – from holding planes longer over the sea, to improved use of continuous descent approaches and increased dispersal of arrivals.  There is no silver bullet that will ever eliminate the problem of aircraft noise but taken together I believe that these measures can make a real difference. Airports have to demonstrate that impacts on their local communities have been fully taken into account, and we have been encouraged by and benefitted from the constructive engagement of local groups in this review.

We want to act as soon as possible on these recommendations so people can start to feel the difference but we cannot do so alone. We will be taking forward urgent discussions with the CAA and NATS on a timetable for change. In the meantime it is our intention to move ahead with establishing a Noise Board with an Independent Chair.


Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate, said:

We welcome the conclusions of this review and the recommendations that have been put forward.  In aggregate, I am sure that they will allow for reduction in the noise impacts of our arrivals traffic, which I am sure will be welcomed by our local community.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be analysing the conclusions of the Review together with our aviation partners so as to arrive at an action plan that will, I hope, allow for the implementation of as many of the recommendations as possible in as short a time as can be practically managed.

You might also care you read the comments made by Wealden MP and East Sussex County Council in response to the Review: Onus on Gatwick Airport to follow through

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  1. At the review findings meeting yesterday Bo Redeborn and Graham Lake did the residents of this area a great disservice by insisting there was no evidence that flights were lower. We are not liars and we are not stupid. FLIGHTS ARE LOWER AND NOISIER. They also insist Gatwick are very concerned about being good neighbours. Now let’s see them prove it.

  2. I can confirm that the planes flying over our house in High Hurstwood are flying lower and are noisier, so noisy and late in the evening that I can’t sleep with an open window despite living in the countryside- I find this very upsetting.

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