An innovative acoustic laboratory at Heathrow to study noise problems

04 of May of 2015

As part of the possible project for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow, some innovative sound simulations are being conducted to try to show the real impact of that extension for residents living in the area near the future third runway.

The laboratory, a red chair in the centre of a soundproof room surrounded by 12 speakers attached to the floor, ceiling and walls, perfectly simulate noise conditions that citizens experience the real world.

“Noise is a big problem”, explains Matt Gorman, sustainability manager at Heathrow. “The experts will generally measure noise in terms of decibels or average noise levels, but we think it will be very useful to experience noise levels that could be reached, truly and objectively”.

The laboratory has been created to test the acoustics of concert halls and other large spaces such as the Wales Millenium Centre and Kings Cross Station in London. It has also been used during the consultation process for high-speed rail and to measure the noise impact of the fastest trains.

The magazine features the experience in the simulation room in an interesting article that you can read here.

The origin of the problem

London airports are at the limit of their capacity. Since the construction of City Airport in 1988, no additional corridor has been built in London. Currently, the two runways of the busiest airport in Europe, the third in the world, already operate at 99% capacity.

The addition of a third runway at Heathrow is one of the three options currently being considered by the Davies Commission responsible for finding a solution to the problem of air congestion in the UK.

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