The CAA's noise exposure contour analysis shows that Gatwick’s noise footprint (54dBA Leq) reduced by 7% in 2018.
The decline is being attributed to improved operational procedures – including smoother descents that reduce drag and use less power – the phasing out of the noisiest aircraft and the introduction of new, quieter aircraft.
Using the nationally recognised standard measurement(54dBA Leq), Gatwick’s noise footprint shrank from 82.7 square kilometres to 77.1 square kilometres in 2018 – compared to 2017 – with the number of people living within this noise contour also falling to 10,200 from 10,950.
Cumulatively, over the last two years, 900 people have been taken out of this noise footprint as it shrank 11% - reducing in area from 86.5 square kilometres in 2016 to 77.1 square kilometres in 2018.
Gatwick’s noise footprint has reduced by 48% over the last 20 years and by 14.5% over the last decade.
In terms of future noise reductions, the next generation of aircraft – including the Airbus A320neo, A321neo and A350; and Boeing’s 787 (Dreamliner) – are up to 50% quieter than their predecessors.
The airport notes that in the future, the airline fleets that operate from Gatwick will be dominated by these quieter aircraft, with forecasts showing that this type of next generation aircraft will make up 86% of Gatwick’s aircraft fleet by 2032/33, up from 3% in 2017/18.
The independent Noise Management Board at Gatwick was formed in 2016 and brings the local community and the aviation industry together within a formalised structure and is considered to be an industry-leading approach to managing noise issues at a local level.
Andy Sinclair, Gatwick’s Head of Airspace, said: “We are making good progress against our objective of reducing the impact that aircraft noise has on our local communities, but we recognise that more must be done.
"We are delighted with the work of the Noise Management Board and we hope that it continues its strong influence in decision making at the airport.
"We will continue to challenge ourselves and our industry partners and will be introducing a range of new initiatives to reduce noise further in coming years."
He adds: “Over time, aircraft noise has dramatically reduced at Gatwick and in the next few years I expect to see further improvements as more next generation aircraft are introduced in significant numbers.
"The large-scale redesign of airspace across South East England is also underway and has the potential to significantly reduce noise impacts around the airport.”