Heathrow to launch two key consultations in January


13/12/17 strictly embargoed until 14/12/17 00h01


Heathrow has announced that on 17th January next year it will launch two major consultations.  The first will be into the mitigation measures that should be put in place if a third runway is given the go-ahead.  The second will be on the design of new flight paths as the airport embarks on the biggest reorganisation of its airspace since it opened in 1946.-

John Stewart, chair of HACAN, which gives a voice to residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said:  “These will be very important consultations for local communities.   They could impact the quality of people’s lives for generations to come.  During the consultation period HACAN will be putting forward tough proposals to mitigate the impacts of a third runway should it be given the go-ahead.  And we will seize the chance to assist with the design of new flight paths so that they give local people as much respite from the noise as possible.”

Both consultations will last for a 10 week period.

Parliament is not expected to vote on whether to give the third runway the go-ahead until April or May next year.  However, Heathrow is consulting on mitigations measures on the basis that last year the Prime Minister announced that Heathrow was the Government’s preferred option for a new runway.

Heathrow has been expected for some time to consult on new flight paths.  It will reorganize its airspace whether or not it is given permission for a new runway.  The airspace changes are being driven by new technology which allows aircraft to be guided more precisely.  This cuts the cost of fuel for airlines, reduces CO2 emissions and improves the resilience of the airport.   All airports in Europe are expected to introduce this new technology over the next decade.

Stewart said, “This new technology to modernize airspace clearly benefits the aviation industry.  But it could also work for residents if the new precision flight paths that will be coming in are rotated so as to give meaningful respite to local communities.  That is what we will be fighting for”.


 For more information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641; 07957385650

Heathrow’s Review of 2016 Published

On November 30th Heathrow published is review of 2016.  It comes in the form of two reports:



Key points of interest from the first report include the fact that during the year there was a 70/30% west/east split in wind direction (generally, aircraft land take-off into the wind); and that planes adhered to runway alternation 90% of the time.

But it was the second report which Heathrow highlighted.  It said, ” Although 2016 had the highest passenger traffic, the Lden 55 dBA contour had its smallest area and the fewest number of people living within it over the 11-year study period (2006-2016)”.  In other words, the noise contours are shrinking because of the introduction of less noisy planes.

But, as HACAN pointed out in its response, “This doesn’t tell the whole story.  The way Heathrow measures the noise gives too much weight to the noise of individual aircraft which has fallen but not enough to the number of planes going overhead.  It is the sheer volume of planes that drives people to distraction these days.”

But HACAN added, “We do welcome the inclusion for the first time in the report a range of new metrics which actually paint a more accurate picture of the noise experienced by residents than its over-dramatic headline suggests.  Heathrow becomes one of the first airports in the world to use such a wide range of metrics.”

Heathrow has not just averaged out the noise over the day – the traditional way of measuring the noise – but has, additionally indicated the number of planes going over each community and how noisy they are which many believe is a more meaningful measurement.  Because planes have become quieter, this metric also shows a reduction in the numbers impacted.  Heathrow has also for the first time produced noise contours just for the days of the year when planes are flying over communities rather than just the annual average which can be misleading because it includes the days when there are no planes.

Heathrow does acknowledge that the noise climate between 2006 and 2016 has become a little worse in some areas, particularly those ‘south of Windsor’ due to the increase in planes, often large, heavy planes, serving long-haul destinations.

It is not clear that the report has fully factored in the increased concentration that some communities have experienced, both on landings and departures. 

Latest news on flight paths; night flights; 3rd runway vote and Cranford Agreement

Flight Path Studies

Two separate studies will soon be underway looking at the impact of planes taking off more steeply from Heathrow.  Heathrow will soon commission work.  In parallel, the Civil Aviation Authority  will look at the climb rats at other UK and international airports and make recommendations in a report expected out in early 2018.

Night Flights – No Change

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced on 13th July that the night flight regime at Heathrow would remain substantially unchanged for the next five years: Hope you’re well… Not sure if you’re around or if you could pass this on to a colleague but wondered how significant this was, and your reaction?


Vote on Third Runway Next Year

Graying also announced that, while the Government was still committed to a third runway, there would now not be a vote in Parliament on it until the first half of next year.  The delay is because the General Election put things back by several months:


End of Cranford Agreement Postponed

The Government abolished the Cranford Agreement in 2009.  This was the 50 year old understanding that planes did not take off from the northern runway over Cranford, at the Hounslow end of the runway.  It meant that, when an east wind blows, all planes must land over Windsor on the northern runway so that they can take off from the southern runway.  This has denied Windsor the half day’s break from the noise which West London enjoys.

Heathrow needed to do work on its taxiways to allow planes to take off from the northern runway.  It got permission to this at a public inquiry but now wants to do further work on the taxiways so they fit in with any third runway.  It is therefore planning to roll this further work into its more general detailed work on a third runway.  If things go according to plan, it will not get planning permission for this until 2020/2021 after which the Cranford Agreement could become operational.



 26/5/17 for immediate use


 Heathrow is to start consulting on flight paths for a third runway later this summer.  It told the Heathrow Community Forum (1) earlier this week that it will launch a 12 week consultation into the design principles people want to see the flight paths based on.  It will be seeking views on things like whether people want the flight paths concentrated on a few communities or prefer to see the introduction of multiple flight paths so the noise is shared around more equally.

Heathrow told the Community Noise Forum that it will be starting from ‘a blank piece of paper’ to put in place what would be the biggest change in flight paths since the airport opened in 1946.  Flight paths will be radically altered even it Heathrow fails in its attempt to build a third runway and remains a two runway airport. The changes are part of a world-wide programme to alter flight paths driven by new technology.  Precision-Based Navigation (PBN) is being introduced.  It enables planes to be guided more precisely saving the airlines fuel, cutting CO2 emissions, allowing air traffic control to run a slicker operation with fewer staff and giving airports more resilience, regarded critical at a busy airport like Heathrow.

The technology allows aircraft to be concentrated along narrow corridors.  This concentration has caused uproar in many America cities.  It also resulted in a four-fold rise in complaints at London City Airport when it was introduced last year.  Heathrow  favours multiple routes so as to give communities under the concentrated flight paths some relief from the noise.

John Stewart, chair of HACAN, the campaign group which gives a voice to residents under the Heathrow flight paths said, “Whether or not they get permission for a third runway, Heathrow know they have got to get the flight path changes right.  With so many people affected by noise from the airport, if they get it wrong there could be major problems.  We will be pressing Heathrow to create as many flight paths as it can so that the noise is shared around as fairly as possible.  The alternative is noise ghettos.”

It will be summer 2018 before Heathrow provides a clearer idea of where the new flight paths will be when it will consult on noise envelopes.  These envelopes will show the broad swathes within which there will be flight paths.  They will not include the exact alignment of the flight paths but those who will be outside the swathes will know they will not be under a flight path.  There will be a further consultation on the detailed flight paths, probably late 2020, with a view to the new flight paths being in place by around 2025.


 Notes for Editors:

 (1). The Community Noise Forum was set up by Heathrow a couple of years ago to discuss with community groups and local authorities all Heathrow noise-related issues and to involve the communities and local authorities in new initiatives at an early stage.

For more information:

John Stewart on 0207 737 6641 or 07957385650