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

Next steps on flight paths and runways

A lot of questions about what happens now to flight paths and runways following the major consultations this year.  We have drawn up a Layperson’s Guide: guide

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

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.

HACAN: giving a voice to residents

We are a regional body with thousands of members from Reading in the west to Greenwich in the east.  We aim to give a voice to residents under the flight paths.

Our objective: to campaign for a significant reduction in noise for all communities impacted by Heathrow

Our key campaigns 2019 – 2020

  • oppose a third runway
  • retain existing alternation in West London
  • meaningful respite – day and night – for all communities
  • a noise envelope that works for all residents
  • Heathrow and London City to coordinate their new flight paths
  • less concentration of current arrivals and departures
  • steeper landing and take-off procedures
  • oppose Independent Parallel Approaches

HACAN  sits on a number of bodies:

  • ANEG – the Government’s national noise stakeholder board
  • Airspace Design Ministerial Group – chaired by the Aviation Minister, overseeing national plans for airspace changes
  • European Commission’s Noise Expert Group
  • Heathrow Community Engagement Board
  • Heathrow’s Strategic Noise Forum
  • Heathrow’s Community Noise Forum
  • Heathrow’s Noise Envelope Design Group

Our sister organisation, HACAN East, gives a voice to residents under London City flight paths.  Of course, a lot of people are under the flight paths to both Heathrow and London City. For more details on the vibrant campaign against the expansion plans of London City visit: www.hacaneast.org.uk 

Strong objection from Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, to the expansion proposals in London City’s Master Plan: http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Robert-Sinclair.pdf

And from the local planning authority, Newham Council:  http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/LCY-Draft-Master-Plan-Consultation-Response-Letter_19.0226.PPPA_18.10.20….pdf

 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

Prime Minister keeps his options open on 3rd runway

Boris Johnson is still keeping his options open about a third runway.  The new Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps (whose own record is one of support for a third runway) was very careful not to endorse it in this recent interview:  https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/transport/air-transport/news/105918/transport-secretary-grant-shapps-suggests-boris-johnson

London Assembly reaffirms opposition to 3rd runway

The London Assembly has once again come out strongly against a third runway.  Here it outlines 5 reasons why it believes expanding Heathrow is wrong:  https://medium.com/@thelondonassembly/five-reasons-why-the-expansion-of-heathrow-doesnt-work-for-london-a1f7eda15942

Heathrow 3rd runway consultation now closed

21st September 2019

Heathrow’s consultation on its Master Plan for the third runway is now closed.  It received in the region of 10,000 responses.

Timetable of Key Events

Mid-December 2018: Department for Transport launched consultation on its Aviation Green Paper. Closed 20th June.

8th January 2019: Heathrow consulted on stage 2 of its proposed new flight paths.  Consultation closed 4th March

Mid-March 2019: Legal challenges against third runway heard in the High Court.

April 2019:  Court rules against objectors but they have indicated they will seek leave to appeal – to be heard October 2019.

June 2019: Heathrow  launched its main consultation on its 3rd runway proposals, including its framework for managing noise. Closed September 2019.

Early 2020: Government expects to publish White Paper

Summer 2020: Heathrow to present its 3rd runway proposals to a Planning Inquiry. Recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport expected end 2021.

Summer 2020:  Heathrow to consult on Independent Parallel Approaches

2021:  Final consultation on new detailed flight paths expected

2025/6:  If all the hurdles are overcome, Heathrow expects to open new runway

  • See the foot of this page for more information on the impact of a Third Runway

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.

Below is the latest information on flight paths:

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

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/

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

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