Airbus PPC to BA letter


Mr Keith Williams

Chief Executive,

British Airways

PO BOX 365




Dear Mr Williams,

Over the years many communities outside of airport ANCON Leq 57dBA contours have suffered an alarming increase in the number of aircraft causing a nuisance through noise and disruptive night time flights. For the most part residents have made little complaint considering the disruption to their sleep patterns and the interference to the quiet enjoyment of their properties and the surrounding environment which for us encompasses the High Weald recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

One nuisance that has been formally raised at our Parish Council Meeting and which we should not have to endure is the disturbing high pitched whine emitted from the Airbus A319/320/321 series of aircraft built before May, which is 99.9% of those flying. There is no respite from this nuisance day or night even with windows closed and seriously affects the rights of people to enjoy their property peacefully and impacts on tourism in our area. British Airways is one of the largest fleet operators of this type of aircraft in the United Kingdom. We understand from the Civil Aviation Authority that the frequency of the sound is around Hz500-600 which they confirm is close to the peak sensitivity of the human ear. We also understand that this debilitating whine can be mitigated by the installation of vortex generators which are fixed ahead of the FOPP cavities and these are actually manufactured in the UK.

Irrespective of the fact that we are advised that all new Airbus A320 variants now have this design fault diminished by modifications on the production line we would earnestly request that you introduce these changes to your own fleet as soon as possible. This will not only bring relief to rural areas across the whole country, where the ambient noise level is 10dBA lower than in built-up areas, but relief to towns and cities where even in public parks and gardens this persistent whine of this type of aircraft is heard over the distant drone of traffic. There is no refuge.

Lufthansa and Air France have agreed to the modifications of their existing fleets to reduce the impact of this nuisance acknowledging that it is their social responsibility in helping to substantially moderate this annoyance on the people they fly over. They add that this move will significantly reduce the impact on communities in the aircrafts decent and approach phases from around 25 miles to 7 miles across a broad swathe. In your Corporate Social Responsibility statement under Local Environment you state unequivocally; ‘ We recognise at airports we operate to we have a very immediate impact on their local communities. Our aim is to minimise this impact as much as possible.’’ Will you commit to your social responsibility to have these aircraft modified as the other two national flag carriers have? Your decision will improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of UK residents and hundreds of thousands in Europe – if not substantially more.

Yours sincerely,


John Cass, Chairman, Penshurst Parish Council