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  • digital mapping has given us the capability to overlay noise exposure contours and information on aircraft movements on a variety of backgrounds and helped make environmental information more easily accessible to the public.

    Sam White, Project Manager – Noise Monitoring and Regulation ERCD, Civil Aviation Authority

The Civil Aviation Authority’s Environmental Research and Consultancy Department (ERCD) provides the Government with technical support and research into the effects of aircraft noise. It is also responsible for maintaining the official UK civil aviation noise contour model, ANCON.

The challenge

Each year, ERCD calculates the noise exposure around the three designated London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) on behalf of the Department for Transport. The magnitude and extent of the aircraft noise around these airports is depicted on maps in the form of noise contours, which are generated by a computer model validated by noise measurements. Noise contours can also be used to predict future impacts and conduct ‘what if’ analysis. Used primarily by policymakers, noise contours can be difficult for members of the public to interpret. They also give little information on the number of flights, times of day or variations from day to day, which can lead to mistrust and accusations that the contours are wrong.

The solution

ERCD overlays a variety of Ordnance Survey maps with flight path and trajectory information, the numbers and types of aircraft operating during a given period and aircraft noise exposure contours. The swathes followed by aircraft on different routes can be shown on the diagram, along with useful statistics such as the frequency and range of daily aircraft movements. This provides more transparent information on aircraft movements and flight paths, presented in a way that people find easier to understand than noise contouring alone.

ERCD uses raster map data at 1:25 000 and 1:50 000 scale, supplied under the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) to present information. ERCD also uses 1:250 000 Scale Colour Raster, provided via OS OpenData™, an online portal providing free and unrestricted access to a large range of Ordnance Survey mapping and geographic information. 1:250 000 Scale Colour Raster data emphasises the main roads and places of interest and is ideal for viewing airport operations over a wide geographic area.

1:10 000 Scale Raster, which is the most detailed product in Ordnance Survey’s raster portfolio, is also used by ERCD as the first stage to identifying potential new noise monitoring sites. Being able to carry out desk-based surveys in this way saves valuable time out in the field, allowing ERCD staff to concentrate on core business activities.

The benefits

  • Greater public understanding of aircraft noise analysis.
  • Improved transparency in presenting ERCD findings.
  • Familiar backdrop mapping provides valuable geographic context.
  • Additional time and cost savings for staff out in the field.

The products used

Download this case study PDF – 692kB


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