Flight Paths: our top topic

Flight paths are the top topic people search for on our site. For basic information, click on the side-bar or scroll down this page. We are always happy to answer your questions. Email johnstewart2@btconnect.com

You might be interested in our 2017 report on London’s Most Overflown Boroughs (includes Heathrow and London City aircraft): report

Supreme Court grants Heathrow leave to appeal 3rd runway ruling


The Supreme Court announced today that it had granted Heathrow leave to appeal the ruling runway decision of the lower court.   The Supreme Court announced on 16th May it will hear the appeal on 7th and 8th October

For details of the Supreme Court’s decision: https://www.supremecourt.uk/news/permission-to-appeal-decisions-07-may-2020.html

For details of HACAN’s reaction, together with an explanation of what this might mean: https://hacan.org.uk/?p=6040

For details of the earlier verdict by the Appeal Court: https://hacan.org.uk/?p=6063


Corona Virus: Heathrow suspends runway alternation


Heathrow has just announced that from Monday 6th April it will suspend runway alternation.  This is where planes landing over West London switch runways at 3pm to give residents a break from the noise.  It will move to single runway operations.  This means instead of operating one runway for departures and one runway for arrivals, it will see departures and arrivals on a single runway using mixed mode operations.

It will alternate which runway is used on a weekly basis to ensure all local communities continue to get respite periods.  It will also also be able to provide alternation on easterly operations (when planes land over Windsor), because of the significantly lower number of aircraft using the airport.

It is a temporary measure due to “the unprecedented impacts of the Coronavirus”.  Heathrow adds that it believes “it is vital that Heathrow remains open so that critical repatriation flights and cargo services can continue to operate. The airport is playing a crucial role in facilitating the supply chain of vital medical goods and food for the nation, with 41% of the UK’s pharmaceutical products being imported via Heathrow”.

The full Heathrow letter: http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Coronavirus-Letter-from-Heathrow.pdf

Heathrow suspends work on 3rd Runway 


Heathrow has suspended work on a 3rd runway until its future becomes clearer.  That means that the short consultation planned for this Spring will not happen.  Heathrow had intended to submit its planning application in the autumn for consideration at a Planning Inquiry.  That has been put on hold.

New Report:  London City has overestimated economic benefits of expansion by up to 50% 


A major report, published today, has found London City Airport has overestimated the economic benefits of its expansion proposals by as much as 50%.  The report, commissioned by campaign group HACAN East from the independent Dutch consultants CE Delft (2), shows that the benefits of the proposed expansion would be over £200 million less than the airport has claimed.

The full report: http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CE_Delft_190363_Review_of_the_economic_impact_analysis_of_the_expansion_of_London_City_Airport.pdf

A  short briefing on the report:  http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CE-Delft-report-briefing.pdf

For more information:  www.hacaneast.org.uk  

Flight Paths: our top topic

Have flight paths changed?

We get more emails and queries about this than anything else. The answer is that since 1996 there have been no formal changes.  But two things have happened.  Over the last decade or so departures have become increasingly concentrated down the centre-line of the Noise Preferential Routes (the three mile wide area they must stay in when leaving the airport) and the corridors used for arrivals have become more concentrated.  It means some areas are getting many more planes and others less.

Additionally, air traffic controllers are permitted to vary the number of planes over individual areas as they guide aircraft in and out of the airport. An increase in flights can also occur if there are more flights arriving from or departing yo particular destinations.

Are aircraft on arrival flying lower?

HACAN carried out a short survey on this in March 2020.  Heights have remained about the same over the last decade.  Generally all aircraft are still flying at much the same height, but because more of them are now larger, heavier aircraft (which are often louder), this larger size and increased loudness gives the false impression of them appearing to be lower:  http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Heights-of-aircraft-since-2010.pdf

Are aircraft on departure flying lower?

In July 2018 the Civil Aviation Authority published a major report on departures.  It found that some aircraft were lower on departure.  Summary of the report: https://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/20180719%20CAP1691a%20Departure%20Noise%20Mitigation%20Summary%20Report.pdf 

A plain person’s guide to ‘quieter’ planes

A four pager from HACAN with everything you want to know about quieter planes: http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Quieter-planes.pdf


A Flight Path Revolution

18 June 2019

Heathrow  is planning the biggest change to its flights paths since it opened in 1946.  It will have a fundamental impact on residents.  Flight path changes will happen with or without a third runway.  The are technology-driven, not runway-driven.


We will not know the proposed new flight paths until 2022

Heathrow’s major consultation on its flight path options closed on 4th March.

For more details on the proposals:Heathrow Flight Path Consultation: January to March 2019: Details on consultation and responses

The consultation its 3rd runway proposals, also now closed,  included further proposals on night flights, runway alternation and westerly preference as well as Heathrow’s proposed noise envelope.

For details read the noise section of the HACAN Briefing

More flight path information:

You can find maps of flight paths on Heathrow’s website: http://www.heathrow.com/noise/facts,-stats-and-reports/operational-data/annual-flight-maps

You can also track flights as they land and take-off: http://webtrak5.bksv.com/lhr4

And you can see what the flight pattern was like over your house during the past six years: http://xplane.bksv.com/xplane/

Check out our flight paths button for info about current flight paths and up-to-date developments, including some Heathrow initiatives to reduce the noise from planes in flight:  https://hacan.org.uk/?page_id=3311

HACAN is lobbying for short-term action to improve noise and flight paths.  Read our report: https://hacan.org.uk/?p=5135

Not just a West London problem – people relate their experiences on video of living with aircraft noise

Click here to look at the videos: http://map.hacan.org.uk/

North London campaign forms


A good inaugural meeting  of the North London Aircraft Noise Campaign, organised by Giovanna Iozzi, took place at the end of February. HACAN will be working with the campaign on a study assessing why people have become more disturbed by aircraft noise in parts of Haringey in recent years.

Video: Crowded Skies

28th August 2019

Here is a great video HACAN East has produced and released today showing not only what it is like to live with London City – and Heathrow – planes flying overhead but also what possible solutions might look like: https://youtu.be/KAnKUlxg7EY

Heathrow still in a noisy league of its own

The numbers are taken from the latest noise action plans published by the UK airports in early 2019.

Many people are in despair about the constant noise over their heads.  95% of the emails HACAN gets contain a complaint are from areas which get no respite from the noise.  Read more here

Read why HACAN backs respite here

We also get a lot of questions about the metrics used to measure noise annoyance. A short HACAN paper explaining noise metrics.

And why Heathrow is using much better metrics to measure noise annoyance than before: click here

ExPlane is a new app to measure aviation noise which the public can use.  See here

Here’s a list of the European airports which overfly the most people: http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/European-Airports-numbers-impacted-2.pdf

The impact of a Third Runway

A new runway at Heathrow would mean just over 700 extra flights each day.  A total of 760,000 planes would use the airport.  Currently there is an annual cap on  flight numbers of 480,000.  A third runway would mean people in West London under the existing flight paths will lose part of the half day’s break from the noise they currently enjoy. It would of course also mean many people under an arrivals or departure runway for the first time. On March 21st 2017 a new coalition was launched to oppose a third runway at Heathrow.  The No 3rd Runway Coalition consists of 18 organisations and is backed by MPs, peers and local authorities.

See reports section for third runway related reports and briefings: https://hacan.org.uk/?p=5024

Our Flickr page has great photos of pictures of campaigning  events – check it out to see the range of protests that have been taking place