Route out

Luton Airport operator LLAOL is set to reveal plans to modify the westerly departure route known as Brookman’s Park. This follows on from the summer 2011 trial which generated 7000 noise complaints.

The modifications are an attempt to constrain modern, large jets to fly the tight turns in a route which was designed many decades ago, according to the airport.

Draft proposals involve moving the centre line to the south as it passes between Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead, and making the planes fly more slowly so they stand more of a chance of following it. The proposal is also to adopt P-RNAV navigation so the planes fly in a much tighter channel.

Paradoxically for Redbourn, this means that the centre line will move further away but the flights will come closer, because at present they miss the centre line completely and spread out above north Hemel. Parts of Hemel will fall under the ‘swathe’ where planes can officially fly. The tighter grouping will mean more concentrated noise for those near the proposed new track.

The draft proposal includes a 210-knot speed restriction. Restricting speed too much at low altitude may make planes noisier, more polluting and less carbon-efficient. It certainly means they take longer to pass, so the noise lasts for longer. Based on the data for over 500 Luton departures, passenger jets currently pass Markyate/Flamstead at an average 240 knots, and Hemel/Redbourn at 275 knots. If they put the brakes on too much, the planes could become a thundering nuisance.

HALE understands that the new plans are currently being tested in the flight simulator before going to public consultation - coinciding with the current consultation on plans for Luton Airport expansion.

We think that before any new flight parameters are accepted, there should be properly managed real-world tests to gauge the impact on noise.

(This post has been updated as more details have emerged)

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