British Airways this week reinforced its commitment to local communities to minimise noise at Heathrow.
Firm undertakings given by Michael FitzGerald QC, when he summed up the airline`s position at the end of 16 weeks discussion of noise at the Terminal 5 public inquiry, included pledges that:
* British Airways would operate no more night flights (between 11.30pm and 6am) than it does now if the new terminal is approved and built
* Any extra night flights that might be allowed in the meantime would be given up when the terminal opens
* No departures would be scheduled between 11.00pm and 11.30pm
* Any aircraft scheduled during the night would have to be at least as quiet as the Boeing 747-400 (the newest and quietest version of the 747 family)
British Airways has already told manufacturers that it will not buy any aircraft bigger than the 747-400 unless it can beat current noise regulations by at least three decibels, said Mr FitzGerald. Boeing, Airbus and all major aircraft engine producers confirm that this is what they intend.
Mr FitzGerald told the Inquiry that no-one wanting a night flights ban had shown how the airlines or airport could cope with this or how to avoid harm to British Airways and Heathrow. Even night flying`s strongest opponents recognised that the Government must balance community and aviation interest - and some of them agreed that the industry had a legitimate voice in this, he added.
On ground noise Mr FitzGerald said that an engine testing pen to be built as part of a forward maintenance facility near Terminal 5 would not disturb local residents.