Ms Carolyn McCall OBE BA
Chief Executive Officer
London Luton Airport
Bedfordshire LU2 9PF
14th November 2013
Dear Ms McCall,
In the towns and villages across West Kent and East Sussex concern is being expressed over the debilitating high pitched whine emanating from the Airbus A318/319/320 etc., series of aircraft. For some time it was thought that this was a fault of the high bypass turbofan engines but this was denied by the manufacturers and in any event Boeings equipped with the same engines do not emit this awful and far reaching noise. It is noticeable on the long low flight path to touchdown apparent at least 20 miles from the airport and across a variable corridor 2 to 3 miles wide.
As your fleet has expanded over the past few years many people’s daily lives have become intolerable because of this noise nuisance. You can imagine then how they are affected when your wailing sirens fly overhead at night. The World Health Organisation has for many years considered that sleep disturbance can lead to fatigue, hypertension, greater risk of heart and respiratory problems, poor performance at work or in school, greater difficulty in concentrating and thinking clearly, an increased likelihood of accidents, depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol abuse. This is particularly the case if people become annoyed about the impact night flights are having on their health and quality of life. These symptoms can also be found in those people suffering excessive noise disturbance during the day.
Much of the nuisance created by your aircraft from Gatwick Airport is over the High Weald registered as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is on these hills and in the tranquil river valleys and upper reaches of the rivers Rother, Arun, Medway, Eden and Ouse that are used for holidays and weekend recreations of hiking, boating, bird watching, horse riding, golfing and other quiet and peaceful pursuits. All are now disturbed by this deep and penetrating noise, mostly from your airline. Many of those troubled, apart from local people in towns and villages, are day trippers from London and other built- up areas all seeking their own refuge from the intrusive noise of daily urban life. In the green parks of inner cities there is also no respite where you and other low cost carriers operate these aircraft.
This annoyance, we are now told, by the CAA has been recorded on the Airbus series since 2005 yet it was only announced on the 13 October 2013 that the ERCD had discovered that the fault was an airframe noise caused by Fuel Over Pressure Protector (FOPP) cavities in the wings. They also confirmed that the “Tone is emitted around 500-600Hz, close to peak sensitivity of the human ear, hence it is very perceptible and very noticeable.”
Purely from a humanity point of view ‘Do you care? If you do please tell me what you propose doing about rectifying this unfair and intolerable burden across much of our country and abroad. Your decision will make all the difference to so many people’s lives.
Michael Knowles OBE
cc The Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP – The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP