At Aberdeen International Airport we are acutely aware of the impact of noise on the local community. This can include ground noise from taxiing fixed wing and rotary aircraft, noise from arriving and departing aircraft and also nuisance noise from other airport operations.
Below we have addressed some of the most frequent asked questions that we are asked which relate to noise. We hope that some of these answers help give you an insight into exactly what we do and why.
Why do helicopters fly over my house when they could fly round built up areas and change their flight routes?
Properties within 10 miles of Aberdeen International Airport should expect to be exposed to helicopter traffic operating in support of the North Sea Oil and Gas Industry. Pilots frequently return to Aberdeen under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) when weather conditions permit. To read more on VFR click HERE. The pilot is required to fly in the safest manner possible taking into account various parameters such as weather conditions, other aircraft whilst remaining within Rules of the Air. These conditions dictate the route the pilot elects to fly. There are also specific regulations around their movements contained within the Air Navigation Order which can be found HERE.
Why can’t the flight routes be changed to stop aircraft flying over my house?
The current flight paths has been designed by relevant authorities to provide the most safe and efficient route to and from the airfield. Due to restrictions in air space it would be unrealistic to redesign the flight routes to and from Aberdeen, trying to ensure all of the residents and business in the north east were accommodated. Thanks to the buoyancy of the local economy the demand for urban growth often means that developments take place under existing flight paths.
Why do helicopters hover over my house for long periods of time?
Aberdeen International Airport is continuing to grow and at peak air traffic periods airborne holding is inevitable, which could be likened to rush hour traffic at a busy road junction where delays will be experienced by drivers because demand is high. Airborne holding is always kept to a minimum.
Why do helicopters sit on the ground with their blades turning and engines running for long periods and not shut down sooner?
Safety is paramount. After the last flight of the day every aircraft which has experienced a flight over water must have a desalination engine wash. This is to remove salt deposits from the engine turbine blades which, if not removed, may cause corrosion and blade deterioration resulting in a loss of power or, worst case, turbine blade failure. The practice of “engine washing” is regulatory and carried out in accordance with the engine manufacturer’s maintenance manual. Sometimes helicopters will disembark passengers and board the next flight immediately and this may be done most efficiently whilst the engines are running.
Why do helicopters sit for long periods of time at runway holding points and not take off immediately, even though the runway looks clear?
Whilst airborne holding is inevitable at peak air traffic periods so too is ground holding. To the general public it may appear that the runway is clear however many factors influence an aircraft’s safe movement on the runway which may not be immediately obvious to the naked eye.
Why are helicopters flying lower than they did in the past?
The height restrictions on helicopters have not changed and therefore current models do not fly lower than in the past.
Why have aircraft routes changed?
In short, they haven’t. Flight paths in and out of Aberdeen International Airport have not changed in 30 years.
Why can’t aircraft fly off in one direction only, keeping any noise away from the city?
The direction of take-off for aircraft is dependent on which runway is in operation on the day, and this in turn is dictated by the wind direction. All aircraft must take off and land into the wind which may result in them overflying the city.
There has been an increase in helicopter noise over the past few months, what has changed?
As the North Sea oil and gas industry continues to grow the capacity demand on Aberdeen International Airport also increases. This has led to an inevitable increase in helicopter traffic. It is also not uncommon for factors such as wind direction and atmospheric pressure to affect how residents perceive noise, factors which cannot be controlled. For this reason the same aircraft operating on two different days may sound distinctly different.
What is Aberdeen International Airport doing to mitigate noise?
Why do you park some aircraft with their engines pointing into my house?
Adverse weather can create a hazard for parked aircraft and when high winds are being experienced or expected; lighter aircraft which may be at risk of sustaining wind damage will be parked to present least resistance – normally nose into the wind. Based on the prevailing wind at the airport this more often than not means aircraft parked with their nose pointing away from nearby homes.
Do you tell developers that helicopters will be flying over the houses they are building?
Yes, we have a dedicated department within the airport which, through consultation with the council planning department and developers, informs them when their developments will be impacted by noise from overflying aircraft. They do this to educate developers and inform potential buyers whilst working to protect the safe operations of the airport.
We are committed to working with local stakeholders to minimise noise wherever possible and to mitigate the effects of noise where we can.
As part of this effort it regularly employs specialist contractors to undertake mandatory noise monitoring at key locations around the airfield as part of our licence to open 24 hours a day, as well as conducting occupational noise monitoring in the main operational areas of the airport. Furthermore should we receive a noise complaint from a local resident then we investigate each and every one and provide feedback to the complainant.
The noise complaint telephone number is: +44 (0)1224 348420