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Last Updated: Friday, 20 August, 2004, 00:07 GMT 01:07 UK
Noise of Concorde 'intolerable'
Concorde
21 of the first 35 Concorde flights exceeded noise limits
The "intolerable" sound made by Concorde in its first four months flying from Heathrow exceeded noise limits, newly released papers show.

Papers from the Working Group on Noise from Air Traffic show Concorde often exceeded 110PHdB (perceived noise decibels) above the airport in 1976.

The group criticised the minister for transport's exemption of the supersonic jet from usual noise restrictions.

The documents are in a series of files made public by the National Archives.

The files include proposals to cut Concorde flights or make the plane use different airports to lessen the impact on those people living in its Heathrow flight path.

The group, under the auspices of the Department of the Environment, found that 21 of the first 35 Concorde flights from Heathrow exceeded noise limits.

'Intolerable'

In a meeting the week after Concorde was given its noise exemption, the chairman of the working group reminded members that the Noise Advisory Council had been against an exemption being granted.

The minutes of the meeting stated: "The Chairman said he was most concerned that the advice of the [Noise Advisory] Council had been ignored..."

All but one of the group then agreed to make a public statement - as individuals - "expressing their dismay that total exemption had been allowed with no promises to examine possible palliatives".

A draft of its Concorde report said: "It is the Working Group's opinion that the noise levels recorded at Heathrow during Concorde's flight endurance programme were intolerable to the community."

Noise abatement

The report welcomed Concorde's manufacturer's assurance that it was trying to improve matters but said: "The Group regret nevertheless that with scheduled services imminent it was still by no means clear what the environmental impact of the aircraft would be."

It noted that the manufacturer had shown how noise could be reduced if experienced pilots followed "prescribed noise abatement procedures".

In the light of this demonstration, the report said, the working group found the minister's decision to exempt Concorde from noise pollution levels "regrettable".

It is unreasonable to ask the community to tolerate the increased disturbance from Concorde without being offered some form of alleviation in return
The Working Group on Noise from Air Traffic

"The Working Group consider that it is essential that Concorde's noise performance should be reviewed after the first three months of operation, by which time the aircrews should have become familiar with the aircraft and competent to fly it in the prescribed manner."

If the noise requirements were not met by the time of the review, the group said the government should take steps to improve the situation.

"The Working Group consider it is unreasonable to ask the community to tolerate the increased disturbance from Concorde without being offered some form of alleviation in return..."

"It is the hope of the Working Group that British Airways and the manufacturers will take all appropriate action urgently to ensure that, following a limited learning period, Concorde will operate from Heathrow meeting in full the statutory noise requirements which must be met by all other aircraft."

Concorde's last commercial passenger flight took place in 2003.

British Airways decided to retire the plane because it was no longer profitable.




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