Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Indian Regulator Takes Steps To Reduce Airport Noise


Aviation Daily Aug 03 , 2010 , p. 11
Neelam Mathews

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India is looking at introducing continuous descent approach (CDA) at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi as an immediate measure to reduce noise pollution following a court case pending by a non-governmental organization and a hospital.

As communities become more aware of rights, cases are starting to be filed against airports on noise. “Our organization is on the forefront of many cases against noise pollution,” says Nasim Zaidi, director general of civil aviation.

The CDA is a method by which aircraft approach airports before landing to reduce fuel consumption and noise. It involves maintaining a constant three-degree descent angle during landing, until meeting the instrument landing system. Instead of approaching an airport in a stair-step fashion, throttling down and requesting permission to descend to each new lower altitude, it allows for a smooth, constant-angle descent to landing, greatly reducing noise.

In May, the working group of the DGCA recommended that use of Delhi’s new Runway 29 for landings be restricted at night to benefit residents living near the approach path.

“There are no standards ascribed to noise pollution inside the airport or related to aircraft noise in India,” says Atul Sharma, managing partner of Link Legal, a consultant on legal matters for aviation.

A study is being conducted to determine accepted levels for aircraft noise.

The government might also consider a new tax on older aircraft by 2012, especially on those landing late in the evening and early in the morning, to curb noise and encourage the use of efficient engines, The DAILY has learned.

The environmental cue would be taken from the Delhi airport’s joint-venture partner, Fraport, which hs been implementing a similar program at Frankfurt Airport for the past few years.

“We are committed to active noise-abatement measures by taxing carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide components. This will encourage new-generation aircraft to fly to Frankfurt Airport,” Stefan Schulte, CEO of Fraport, told The DAILY in December 2009.

Fraport has eight defined noise categories, and landing charges go up progressively. The charges for Category 4 (older aircraft) are as much as 22 times higher than those for Category 1, officials said. There is also an additional night charge.

Since 2006, Fraport also implemented a passive noise abatement program. “We just insulated the roofs of homes around the airport. But this won’t be possible in Delhi, where walls are thinner and windows have no insulation,” said Ansgar Sickert, managing director of Fraport India.

DGCA has also suggested limiting the use of reverse thrust, mixed-mode use of three runways, noise mapping and control of land use.

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