It seems that cities, with an airport located at a distance that is fast to reach, appreciate highly such a convenience, however, like any other convenience, it has its own cost: the disturbing aircraft noise in certain suburbs of a city. This is the case with Vilnius, and the situation here is dealt with by implementing latest methods of noise management. In the near future stricter requirements will be established for arrivals to/departures from the Lithuanian capital, thus, its residents will be less exposed to aircraft noise.
Requirement for the first turn
As Mindaugas Gustys, CEO of SE Oro navigacija, has emphasized, rapid urban development, taking place in many countries, has resulted in new residential settlements near to airports. Vilnius is an example of such development, alongside with airports of Warsaw, Tallinn, London City, and Geneva.
“Flight operations above cities of island countries such as Malta and Cyprus are inevitable and the volume of air traffic above such cities is very high. Such countries as well as Lithuania are trying to seek a compromise between cost-efficiency and measures to reduce noise exposure”, says M. Gustys.
A significant noise reduction measure that will soon come into effect is the requirement imposed on departures from Vilnius with regard to initiating the first turn on the climb. According to Romanas Petrovskis, Head of the Air Traffic Management (ATM) Division of SE Oro navigacija, to initiate a turn, aircraft will have to ascend higher and this will result in reduced impact of noise.
“From the 5th of December this year, aircraft departing in northern direction on a standard route will be allowed to initiate a turn only after having reached the altitude of 4,000 feet (about 1,300 m) above MSL, i.e. an altitude higher by 1,000 feet (about 300 m), compared to the currently prescribed one”, says R. Petrovskis elaborating on the issue.
Bypassing the densely populated areas
According to the above-mentioned requirement, in order to bypass the densely populated areas, the turning point to aircraft departing from Vilnius airport in northern direction will be 2 km away from the currently applicable and will be located near Žemieji Karačiūnai.
According to R. Petrovskis, however, there are cases when aircraft crews, due to various reasons, for instance, bad weather conditions, request for an early turn clearance. Anyway, such clearance may be issued only in daytime (7.00–22.00), to reduce the impact of noise.
“Preventing an early turn in daytime when volume of air traffic is high would be inappropriate in terms of flight efficiency and safety. It would lengthen the time spent in the air and time of departure, resulting in aircraft queueing for take-off”, notes R. Petrovskis. Nevertheless, in each case a decision will depend on all positive and negative aspects.
Less exposure to Vilnius residents
Aircraft arriving at Vilnius airport are using various systems for approach, and the omnidirectional radio beacon is one of them. Due to technological reasons, in the case of the latter system the final approach path does not coincide with the centerline of runway. Therefore, the northeastern suburbs of the city are affected by higher levels of noise generated by the arriving aircraft.
“The problem is that when flying over the northeastern part of the city, aircraft are only a few kilometres before landing and cannot make complex maneuvers. This is for the sake of safety”, emphasizes R. Petrovskis, by adding that, in order to reduce noise in the densely populated part of the city, the enterprise is planning to amend the procedure for approach by using the omnidirectional radio beacon.
According to R. Petrovskis, last spring the approach routes over the northern part of the city were revised by evaluating the possibility of shifting the glide path of the omnidirectional radio beacon towards the east, to the maximum extent possible, thus reducing the impact of noise on more densely populated suburbs of Vilnius.
In addition, the Lithuanian Airports have requested SE Oro navigacija to determine, and submit in accordance with the current procedures, the minimum obstacle clearance altitudes in order to establish routes for landing. The altitudes have already been determined and submitted by SE Oro navigacija. Thus, when the Transport Competence Agency approves them, the enterprise will change the instrument approach procedures.
Stricter procedures introduced for airlines
Last spring the Lithuanian airports informed on the long-term plan for complex measures on noise reduction signed with SE Oro navigacija aimed at achieving best results by combining various methods. As R. Petrovskis has pointed out, aircraft flying over Vilnius are already keeping to part of requirements laid down in the plan, some other noise reduction measures will be implemented in the future. For instance, at night time (22:00-07:00) aircraft crews have to strictly follow the established standard route for departure, extending above the sparsely populated areas of the city.
“Slowing down an aircraft by reversing the engine and aircraft engine testing are no longer allowed at night”, notes SE Oro navigacija’s representative.
Level of noise at Vilnius air gateway is continuously measured by equipment comprising four stationary and two mobile stations. The airport has also purchased a special software, to monitor airlines’ compliance with the established requirements.
Like every European airport, Vilnius air gateway yearly produces a noise map containing data on noise zones, their size and number of people living there. These maps are produced on the basis of the annual data of the noise level monitoring system, including factual flight routes, aircraft types, level of their generated noise, etc. Noise maps show areas of varying noise levels in the city, and the noise level in a particular location has to be compared with the noise levels permitted by law.
Seeking to respond to residents’ most important questions regarding aircraft noise, SE Oro navigacija has prepared the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) which are available at https://www.ans.lt/lt/triuksmo-prevencija/
Tel. 8 706 94509
Mob. +370 687 26001
SE „Oro navigacija“
Balio Karvelio Str. 25, LT-02184 Vilnius
Company code: 210060460
VAT code: LT100604610
Tel.: +370 706 94 502,
Fax.: +370 706 94 522,