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Friday, 5 June 2009


Let's not beat about the bush on this one, I'll make it as clear as I can: no night flights. Not scheduled flights. Not chartered flights. No night flights. Unplanned arrivals: diversions from other airports (due to emergencies, bad weather and so on), humanitarian missions or national crisis are fine. Obviously. But otherwise... no night flights.

I hope that's clear.

A plane coming in to land makes a LOT of noise. At night, when everything else is that much quieter, the sound stands out against the reduced background noise, so seems louder, and is more disruptive. This much is self-evident.

Even modern planes are noisy, and even when they're relatively high up. An enquiry at Stansted in 2007 took evidence of noise complaints that came from a roughly rectangular area 35 miles by 60 miles around the airport. The sound footprint of each aircraft is large; the combined impact of all an airport's traffic taken together is huge.

The noise itself is stressful, as is the loss of sleep - a 10 decibel increase of noise at night raises the risk of hypertension by 14%. On health grounds for all those within earshot, night flights are a non-starter. From the point of view of quality of life, ditto.

Economics: the aviation group of the Local Government Association reports that “no evidence has been produced by the Government or the aviation industry to justify claims that night flights have an overall economic benefit”. That sentence is worth re-reading out loud and thinking about carefully. The LGA, which covers the whole country, but concentrates on local interests and priorities has a 'Strategic Aviation Special Interest Group'. They've done their homework, they've done their sums, and they've come to the conclusion that night flights don't make economic sense.

Matt Clarke (Infratil's Chief Exec) has said that Manston is operating at a fraction of its capacity. Surely there can be no need for them to operate night flights. As there's plenty of available daytime capacity, that should be used up first.

Night flights: unhealthy, uneconomic, unwanted and unnecessary.

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