27th March 2006

Aircraft complaints made easier

Making a complaint about noisy and low-flying aircraft taking off from Stansted Airport has been made easier now that Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has published on its website an explanation of the ‘rules’ and an easy to use complaint form.

Residents who have been affected by noisy, low-flying and off-track aircraft can record their complaints on the form to ensure that the airport’s Flight Evaluation Unit (FEU) has all the information required to carry out an investigation. The detailed notes which accompany the form explain how to complain, which incidents to complain about and what happens next.

The move follows concerns from people contacting SSE that the airport does not reply to some complaints or sometimes does not provide an adequate response. SSE wants people to complain responsibly and to keep on complaining even though they may feel their reports are not having the desired effect.

“We are reminding people that they have a right to complain about aircraft that are noisy, too low or off-track,” said Chris Bennett, head of SSE’s Noise Group. “Legitimate complaints send a signal to BAA about the impact on the community of aircraft that break the rules. Failure to complain suggests that residents are content with the situation.”

The website explains what qualifies as an infringement and lists permitted noise levels through a 24-hour period. It provides details of certain low-flying and other infringements which can result in the offending airline being investigated and fined.

Infringements of the rules are, however, comparatively rare, as the website points out. Planes arriving at the airport are not covered by the same rules as those taking off and helicopters do not have to conform to the same rules.

“SSE does not agree with many aspects of the noise control system and will continue to press for improvements, including the establishment of an independent complaints handling body,” Chris Bennett added. “We expect complaints to grow particularly from areas outside the worst-affected noise zones as air traffic volumes build up towards the permitted passenger limit on the existing runway.”

The complaint form and explanatory notes are available by clicking ‘Report Noisy Aircraft’ on the SSE website homepage.

Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport