Flight over Windsor Castle ramparts

February 18, 2008 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Aircraft, Heathrow, Ramparts, Windsor Castle | 2 Comments

Yesterday’s view from St. George’s Chapel south side looking up over the ramparts of Windsor Castle in Lower Ward (click to enlarge image):

Flight over Windsor Castle ramparts

Giant versions of these maps (HTML page links to 46 large PDF map files) were available at Department for Transport Public Exhibitions for Adding capacity at Heathrow airport.  They include:

make it look like Windsor Castle will likely benefit from adding capacity at Heathrow airport. My confidence in these projections is not high!

The noise contours for 57dBA Leq dodge around Windsor Castle in an indicative map of a future scenario I was shown at a Public Exhibition. Profiles show greater noise further away from the airport at river level. How the noise is lower at the top of the hill closer to the airport as aircraft descend for final approach to Heathrow runways, beats me. The only way to achieve that would be for pilots to turn engines off to glide over Windsor Castle!

Perhaps I was being shown maps for noise due to departures instead of arrivals … but I did ask for an explanation of the difference between noise levels for departures and arrivals, as I notice they are typically presented separately on the noise contour maps.  These noise sources happen to occur simultaneously when aircraft are arriving over Windsor at the same time they are departing over Windsor.  As you can tell, I still have loads of unanswered questions about the future scenarios we were shown of indicative noise assessments.

I do hope HM the Queen was sent a Consultation Summary like the rest of us 😉



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  1. It looks to me like the contours include departures and arrivals. Because of the need for a “stabilized approach”, the arrivals need to be straight into the runway. Departures have no such requirement, and they can turn away from populated areas immediately after takeoff. Departures can also climb faster than arrivals can descend (sounds backwards, but it’s the need for the “stabilized approach”), thus they influence less ground area. Because the images above have both long lead-in lines approaching the airport from both directions, and sharp turns at both ends of the airport, it leads me to believe that arrivals and departures for both west- and east- configurations were included.

    The projected noise contours also lead me to believe that they might be planning on using the west configuration more in the future, which is the opposite of what I would expect if noise levels were the most pressing concern. Based upon what I know about the population distribution, the area to the east of the airport is more heavily populated than to the west.

  2. Hi Atmoz,

    Thanks for looking at the noise contours on those maps. Some seem specific to arrivals, others seem specific to departures and others appear to combine the two. I admit I could be totally wrong, but that is the way they appeared when I asked noise experts about the impact on Windsor.
    Currently Westerly Preference still stands, which means planes normally descend from the east. That is under review.
    However, we still have planes descending from the west when the winds are coming from the east (because it is more efficient for aircraft to take-off and land into prevailing winds). That seems to be what we have been experiencing in recent weeks, based on the three planes approaching and clearly visible throughout the entire day and evening over our street in Windsor.
    I think the noise contour maps have allocated noise levels proportionate to the historical number of days in a year that east and west arrivals have occurred. However, yearly averages and daily averages mask the degree of nuisance we suffer from. That’s at the heart of the problem.
    Yes, east of the airport is Greater London, west of the airport is the Thames Valley—still heavily populated, but less dense than the other side!
    We also have CDA (Continuous Descent Approach) that I think sets limits on the height and distance and angle at which aircraft approach runways. I have not read much about that, but the current situation seems to bring the planes much lower than we remember in previous years. Any lower, and they would look ready to scrape the top of the flag on Windsor Castle!

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