The government submits a study on airport noise pollution

The Belgian state has submitted an impact assessment of noise pollution around Brussels Airport to the parties involved, La Libre and la Dernière Heure reported on Friday night. The study includes fourteen scenarios that should be able to alleviate the nuisances of the local residents.

The study from the specialized agency Envisa was handed over to the affected municipalities, associations of local residents and the regions of Wallonia and Brussels on Wednesday evening. At the end of 2020, the state was required to provide the parties with a new impact assessment by 1 June 2022, after an initial draft was deemed insufficient.

“Both in terms of health for a maximum number of local residents and in terms of the economic viability of the airport”, the extension of the 25L runway by 900 meters is “the most efficient scenario”, according to the study. The rooms could then be concentrated there under certain noise standard conditions, with a left turn from a height of 700 feet. Fifty to 100 percent of the planes that take off would depart from this extended runway. That would require an investment of 50 million euros.

The second most credible solution in this study is to modernize the fleet in Zaventem. “It would undeniably have a positive impact on the noise contours,” says the study’s author. Emissions of pollutants will also be reduced. In 2019, 12 percent of the new generation aircraft (Airbus A320neo, A350, A380, 737Max, 787, etc.) were surveyed, proposing to increase this share to 28 percent, which would reduce noise contours by more than 15 percent.

Further analysis

Envisa did not completely redo the study, but made additional analyzes that were added to the initial study. According to the Cabinet of Ministers of Mobility Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo), the various scenarios will soon be presented “to the other members of the federal majority and to the members of the Consultative Committee”.

“This study allows at least an objectification of the current situation and of the possible solutions, including the most disruptive and the most difficult for a consensus that can be drawn up subsequently,” the cabinet said in a summary of the document.

Left turn

As regards the extension of runway 25L by 900 meters to use a left turn more frequently for departing flights (instead of runway 25R), the summary states that “given the geographical location of the airport, a slight shift of activities to the east and overflights of municipalities southwest of the airport can be partially avoided. ”The scenario,“ 1.b ”, is divided into several sub-scenarios depending on the proportion of departures that would change from 25R to 25L and the altitude at which the left turn begins.

But there is no miracle solution: there are opportunities to optimize the reduction of overflight frequency and reduce the global noise nuisance, but the investment costs and shifts in the remaining noise nuisance must also be taken into account. For example, the extension of runway 25L only seems useful in relation to noise pollution if the planes are already turning left at low altitude (700 feet), but it will cause further noise pollution in municipalities south of the airport.

In other scenarios, changes such as an extension of the operational night (with limitation of the number of flights) to kl. 7 (instead of 6 o’clock), but this will have a significant economic impact on the airport. Also reviewed: previous take-offs from runway 25R, cessation of cargo flights, new approach procedures on landing or even managing departures from runway 25R along the same route over less populated areas.

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