London Heathrow Airport, in collaboration with Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN), air traffic services provider NATS and British Airways has launched a trial that will direct flights in defined paths to offer neighbouring residents a respite from flight noise.
The Early Morning Noise Respite Trial will create noise relief zones for communities staying under the flight path to reduce noise generated by aircraft during the morning.
The five month trial, which began in November 2012, is aimed at testing whether the flights, mainly approaching Heathrow, could be routed in a more definite path that could create noise relief zones for communities.
Currently, 17 flights arrive at Heathrow every morning between 04.30 and 06.00, which follow no definite route.
Flights paths are spread across London as air traffic controllers direct the aircraft to achieve the safest and most efficient arrival routes.
Heathrow sustainability director Matt Gorman said that by working with air traffic controllers, NATS, the airport is testing whether aircraft can be directed around specified areas to provide respite for local residents.
"A relatively small adjustment in terms of the flight path can have a big impact on those living underneath it," Gorman said.
There will be four trial areas, two to the east of the airport and two to the west, over places that include Vauxhall, Wandsworth, Battersea, Clapham Common, Westminster, Bermondsey and Streatham to the east, and Binfield, Reading, Purley and Winnersh to the west.
During the trial, two zones will be defined over each trial area and each zone will take turns to be active on a sequential weekly basis, while ATC will direct pilots to avoid flying through either active zone for that particular week to offer respite from noise to those areas.
HACAN chairman John Stewart said: "Periods of respite are very important for residents under the flight paths."
Image: The trial is aimed at lessening the impact of aircraft noise over the community around London Heathrow Airport.