MPs secure assurance from the CAA that aircraft noise misery from PR-NAV will be addressed

Today Sir Paul Beresford, Crispin Blunt and Sam Gyimah, the Members of Parliament representing the people being overflown by the new departure Route 26 out of Gatwick, met Mark Swan, the Director for Safety and Airspace regulation for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to discuss the CAA's review of the implementation of PR-NAV (Precision Area Navigation) from Gatwick since November 2013 and the consequences of its full implementation from May 2014.

The CAA gave an update on the process, which was unprecedented in including a call for submissions from the public, which ended on 5th January 2015. They received 15,500 public representations which are now being analysed. The CAA's preliminary analysis was that there were "discrepancies beyond what was anticipated" on the two key routes which have led to a concentration of aircraft tracks, both westerly and easterly over south Reigate and Redhill and on westerly take-off over Holmwood. These tracks are outside the original Noise Preferential Routes (NPR) and have led to intense anger from constituents who now find themselves suffering constant aircraft noise pollution.

The CAA, as the regulator, have the authority to require Gatwick to alter these flight paths following their review. Mark Swan was able to assure the MPs, that on the basis of their work so far, "We will not allow the status quo to be sustained".

The MPs were anxious that the critical path towards rectifying the routes should be as short as possible. They also made clear that the solution needed to return routes as close as possible to the pre-PRNAV pattern. Mark Swan made clear that his officials would consider any new proposals from Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) whilst they finished their formal review process. He also stated that the CAA had sufficient authority to approve appropriate technical solutions that returns paths towards the previous pattern. The MPs were accompanied by a pilot and local resident, Simon Lees, who is also advising Plane Wrong who are in discussion with GAL about technical solutions, having retained their own expert advisers, To70.

GAL, having not attended protest meetings last year, in contrast to the CAA, and having been slow to acknowledge there was a serious problem for local residents, have now undertaken to address the issue. The MPs said:

"We are grateful for the explicit assurances given us today by the CAA. The status quo is going to change and the CAA will assist GAL in delivering this relief as fast as possible. We welcome the fact that GAL are now engaged with Plane Wrong and their advisers and have put resources towards working out their own new proposals to the CAA. This will avoid the delay that would arise if GAL did nothing before the CAA completed their formal review process. It is now up to GAL to progress new proposals as fast as possible and the CAA have undertaken to help guide them so that safety and technical compliance issues can be resolved as fast as possible.

"All parties now appear to be working towards giving our constituents underneath the new concentrated flight paths the earliest possible relief from the unacceptable new noise nuisance imposed last year. We will sustain the pressure to try and deliver a summer less blighted than last year."