Friday 21 March 2014
Guernsey Airport is consulting on potential changes to the way some aircraft are routed over the island.
It follows complaints from some islanders that they have experienced an increase in noise since last summer. These mostly relate to departing aircraft, some of which it is suggested now fly over or close to properties that previously were relatively unaffected by air traffic.
Guernsey Airport has investigated the complaints, and has not identified any operational changes that would explain the increase.
In December, Public Services asked the local Director of Civil Aviation, who regulates Channel Island air traffic, to carry out an independent review. The subsequent report is included in Guernsey Airport's consultation paper.
This also did not identify any changes to explain the increase in complaints, but recommended Guernsey Airport reviews its noise abatement procedures as a potential way to address neighbours' concerns.
These procedures set out the route pilots must observe when taking off or landing in Guernsey. The aim is to minimise, wherever possible, the impacts of noise from aviation activity. Although they are operated on a voluntary basis, the airport can impose sanctions on pilots who do not comply.
Most of the recent complaints relate to commercial flights operating to Jersey, for which special arrangements currently apply.
Normally, aircraft heading to the UK have to keep flying due west (or east) immediately after take-off until they reach a height of 1500ft or are three miles from the airport. They can then turn north, en route to their destinations.
However under existing procedures, aircraft heading to Jersey are allowed to turn south over Torteval, at a lower height. This aims to reduce the distance these flights travel over the southwest corner of Guernsey, out towards the coats and then back east again.
One potential change being considered is to introduce a weight limit, which would effectively mean only small private aircraft are permitted to make these early turns. Larger types would have to follow a similar procedure as northbound flights.
Small private aircraft flying circuits, for instance for pilot training, could also be handled differently. Currently these flights, which both take off and land at Guernsey Airport, are mostly routed out over the sea. They therefore turn south over either Torteval to the west or Forest and St Martin's the east.
Another change under consideration would see a proportion of these circuit flights routed to the north, to primarily fly over land.
The consultation paper can be downloaded from www.gov.gg/nap-review. Copies are also available from Frossard House, or on request from Public Services on 01481 234684.
Any islanders or commercial bodies are being invited to provide feedback before the closing date of Friday 2 May 2014.
Any proposed changes will then be reviewed in light of any feedback, and any revisions to the current noise abatement procedures will be introduced later this year, following a suitable period of notice to aircraft operators.