View Full Version : Light aircraft noise question
21st Jul 2012, 14:45
I live about a mile away from a grass strip which is used quite infrequently by a few light aircraft and the occasional helicopter. There has never been a noise problem until fairly recently when we've suddenly been subjected to a noisy single engine aircraft who spends the whole weekend climbing to a fairly high altitude at full throttle, followed by a noisy descent and then back to a full throttle climb and so it goes on all day. Does this sound like a normal PPL lesson or maybe some lucky person with a new toy and a fat wallet to pay for the fuel?!
Not wishing to be a killjoy at all; it's just wearing me down and wondered how best to approach the situation. Do I contact the owners of the grass strip to explain the noise pollution or is it just a case of having to suck it up?
22nd Jul 2012, 07:12
I'd wander over and have a non-confrontational chat with the pilot when he/she lands. I've never met a pilot intending to cause a nuisance, and may be able to follow a different course to reduce the noise. You may even get a flight out of the visit if you are polite enough :-)
Do it before you're really hacked off and can't be polite.
Depending on where you are, it may be temporary while the Olympics close down lots of airspace.
22nd Jul 2012, 07:27
This sounds like parachuting operations. Have you seen any parachutists?
22nd Jul 2012, 08:06
Definitely sounds like parachute dropping
22nd Jul 2012, 08:36
If we knew the lattitude and longitude of the strip (easily determined with Google Earth) we could make more constructive comments.
One of the first steps would be to find out if they have planning permission, and if so what restrictions were imposed. Frequently the number of daily movements is restricted, and/or the hours of operation. Sometimes there are technical restrictions on e.g. Noise sometimes with a requirement for a silencer and a specific type of propeller.
22nd Jul 2012, 08:46
Hmmm. 4 replies and already we're into heavy handed territory. Start light, with caroberts's suggestion and then, if necessary, escalate with the owner/operator of the strip. I'm pretty sure they won't want the nausea of officialdom on their backs and will very probably take the necessary steps. There are nuclear options for later if it comes to that but why start with them?
22nd Jul 2012, 09:32
keybored, just some practical information that may help you to understand the situation.
Light aircraft all follow the "circuit", which is sort of a rectangular route with the runway in the center of one of the long sides. As aircraft are (obviously) required to land on the runway, they need to be in the extended centerline of the runway for about half a mile to a mile before landing. There's not much room for variation of the flight path here. The same goes for departure. Once you left the ground you typically don't maneuver (much) until you reach an altitude of 500 feet, so the first half mile or so we tend to stay on the extended centerline.
Picture here: http://www.jimmystorrier.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/circuit.png
But apart from what we call "final approach" (or "final") and "upwind", there actually is a lot of variation possible to the exact layout of the circuit. Technically the circuit can be either side of the runway as well. As part of the airfield design, the owners typically prescribe a circuit that avoids noise-sensitive areas. So villages are typically avoided, but avoiding individual farms is hard as they are just scattered everywhere. Also, sound doesn't just carry straight down but sideways as well. So even if we don't fly directly overhead, we will be generating noise.
Here's a (random) actual circuit diagram, which shows that the owners do try to prevent overflying villages. http://www.airports-worldwide.com/img/germany/werneuchen_germany.gif
Aircraft don't fly these circuits continuously just for the fun of it. Arriving aircraft join the circuit at some prescribed point (so everybody knows where everybody else is coming from) and then land. Departing aircraft also follow the circuit pattern for a while until they depart on course. So both will typically be "in the circuit" for only a few minutes. Flying the circuit continuously is typically only done for initial and recurrent training. Recurrent training usually comes down to two or three times around the circuit and that's it. But in initial training it might take a lot longer to get the hang of it. I must have flown close to a hundred circuits during my training.
The other (unfortunate) thing is that during initial training students typically don't navigate all that well, and may also not manage their aircraft very well. So they might produce more noise than is strictly necessary (for instance by varying the engine power a lot during the final approach, instead of making a smooth, constant-power approach) and they might be flying closer to noise-sensitive areas than strictly necessary.
The good news is that circuit lessons typically take less than an hour, after which the student is truly knackered. It's incredibly hard work, possibly the hardest part of the PPL syllabus. And most students only have one lesson a week. So if the aircraft flies circuits all weekend, there must be something else going on. Perhaps a flight school has just established itself? You would be able to find that on the internet of course.
And even with a busy flight school you can make arrangements. They can vary their circuits based on the time of the day for instance, so that it's not always the same people subjected to the noise. Or limit circuit training to certain times of the day. For instance not when everybody is sitting in the garden for their weekend BBQ, but during the mornings where everybody is clipping their hedges with these electric trimmers anyway.
Anyway, like others said. Find out what's going on first. Maybe the above might help you with that. Then see if you can come to some sort of arrangement.
22nd Jul 2012, 09:55
I would suggest its probably a drop aircraft and nothing to do with your strip. If you tell us where you are it would help. If you want to PM me with location I can tell you if it's a jump aircraft and perhaps help with changing the noise footprint.
A and C
22nd Jul 2012, 10:26
Is the aircraft a refugee from the expensive glorified school sports day that is taking part in London over the next few weeks?
Of so it will go way in four weeks time.
22nd Jul 2012, 11:24
Taking it back to carobert's useful suggestion, gently letting "them" know that they are detracting from the local environment beyond the norm is a good start. There are some technique changes which the pilots of some aircraft can employ to reduce the noise they produce. Some aircraft (particularly those with greater power) have propellers which the pilot can adjust in flight to reduce engine speed, and therefore the noise. A reminder to the pilot that doing so would be a good start.
As said, pilots don't set out to annoy people on the ground with noise, but it certainly can happen with carelessness in piloting. The pilot and the operators of the runway have an interest in keeping good neighbours, and will go to some effort to refine techniques of aircraft operation, and flight path to minimize their impact.
Keep your meeting proactive, non confrontational and neighbourly, and expect the same of them. Expect to leave your meeting with some commitment to a reduction in impact, even if it is just a changed route. Give them a week or two to assess the result, knowing that the odd pilot will forget.
If it is a Olympics displaced pilot, have extra patience - that sure must be frustrating for them too!
22nd Jul 2012, 15:02
Thanks guys for the helpful replies. The aircraft in question is definitely not dropping parachutists; through my binoculars it's just a normal 2 seater with non retractable undercarriage and a noisy prop! It's possible he could be using another airstrip a few miles further NE according to a neighbour, so until I can eyeball him taking off there's not much I can do. I'll do some more detective work and let you guys know the outcome.
bose-x, unable to PM you as your mail box is full!