HACAN Night Flights Consultation Response Guide


We put together a response guide for part 1 of the DfT’s consultation on the night flights regime. Please click the title above to download the guide.

Heathrow Consults on Community Engagement

Heathrow have  launched a consultation to seek feedback on how and why their  stakeholders engage with them, with the aim to help shape and inform their community forums in the future.
This is largely as a result of the reduction in financial and staffing resources available to them and on the face of it could result in less engagement with local communities.
Further information and the consultation document can be found here: https://www.heathrow.com/company/local-community/community-forums-review
It was also announced that the HCEB is to return to a narrower remit akin to the HACC – they are losing staff and resources – and will be prioritising and streamlining their work programme. 

Official:  Supreme Court backs Heathrow


The Supreme Court today upheld Heathrow’s challenge to the earlier Court of Appeal decision that the 3rd Runway National Policy Statement was illegal. The court found unanimously that the Transport Secretary of State had acted legally and as he was required to do in relation to Paris Agreement in drawing up the 3rd Runway National Policy Statement (NPS). 

Here is the Court’s judgement:  


Heathrow is now free to resume work on its detailed plans for a third runway to put to a Public Inquiry.  It is thought this will not happen for a considerable time as Heathrow’s focus in  2021 and probably beyond will be on recovery from Covid.

HACAN issued this statement in response to the verdict: 

“Despite this verdict, there remains real doubt about whether the third runway will ever see the light of day.  Recovery is all that is on Heathrow’s mind right now.  Flight numbers are down nearly 90%.  The airport’s expansion team has long since been disbanded.  A third runway remains no more than a distant and uncertain prospect.  It is more than a decade away.”

You can find our summary of the verdict here: https://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Heathrow-third-runway-verdict-2020-key-points..pdf

What happens now?

Heathrow’s proposal when they have been drawn up will need to be submitted to a 6 month Public Inquiry.  The inspectors’ recommendations will go to the Secretary of State for Transport  (in reality the full Cabinet) who can accept or reject them.  Only if the Government then gives approval can Heathrow start digging.

BREAKING: Supreme Court backs Heathrow in 3rd runway decision


Tim Crosland of Plan B has broken the embargo. Decision to be officially announced tomorrow. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HxxC4TQgHh_haFkikww74CBhwgYaKfu1Nooi9NwKJns/preview?pru=AAABdoq0zc4*x_pS5xIEqbN1M-86ODm53w

Supreme Court Decision 16th December 


It was announced yesterday that the Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on Heathrow’s appeal on the 3rd runway on Wednesday 16th December: https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2020-0042.html

You can watch the Supreme Court deliver its decision live (from about 9.45am): https://supremecourt.uk/live/court-01.html

New Night Flights Consultation


The Department for Transport today launched a new consultation on night flights.  It is proposing carry over the current regime at Heathrow until 2024 and banning the noisiest aircraft.  It asks for views on night flight policy after 2024.

We’ll produce a briefing in due course but our initial reaction is that Government should use this opportunity to take a fundamental look at the need for all these night flights at all UK airports rather than tinker around at the edges.

The consultation closes on 3rd March 2021.


You can read our blog arguing that ‘No Night Flights’ would be a way of the Government and industry giving back something to the overflown without any real damage to the economy: https://hacan.org.uk/blog/?p=666

Want to know how impacted a property is by planes?


People often contact us asking how badly affected an area is by aircraft noise.  We can recommend that you contact richard.herson@aircrafttrafficsurvey.com an independent data expert who is able for £10 to check out a location, number of planes  that fly over it, their height etc. His results are accurate. His website is www.aircrafttrafficsurvey.com  

Practical suggestions from ICCAN to airports on community engagement


ICCAN, the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise, has published a report outlining ways in which airports can engage most effectively with their impacted communities.  Heathrow is ahead of the game on this but it will be a wake-up call to a lot of other airports:  https://iccan.gov.uk/engagement-best-practice/

HACAN appoints a new coordinator


We are really pleased to announce that Paul Beckford has been appointed as the new HACAN Coordinator to replace John Stewart who will be stepping down at the end of the year after more than 20 years at the helm at HACAN. Paul Beckford is an experienced campaigner and transport expert who has successfully lobbied on a variety of transport and environmental policies over the past 15 years. He spent eight years as Director of Parliamentary Affairs at the transport consultancy Cogitamus Ltd and has served as Policy Director for the No Third Runway Coalition since 2017.

Call for night flight ban


Just days before the Department for Transport is expected to publish a consultation on night flights, 17 community and environment groups, including HACAN, have written to the aviation minister Robert Courts, calling for a ban on night flights.  Read the letter here: https://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Robert-Courts-MP-night-flights-letter-final.pdf

Covid impact on Heathrow (1)


Heathrow has just announced that from Monday 9th November  that, instead of operating one runway for departures and one runway for arrivals, it will use the same runway for both.  The runway used will alternate each week to give people a break. It is possible that if it gets busy Heathrow will use both runways at the same time but it is expecting a big drop in traffic during this lockdown period. 

Covid impact on Heathrow (2)


Heathrow held its Community Noise Forum online yesterday.

A useful report was given by the airport on the current state of play.  Below are the main points:

  • Heathrow passenger numbers are down 82% on where they were last year.
  • Heathrow is losing £5m a day (that is the amount its costs exceed the revenue coming in)
  • It doesn’t expect passenger numbers to be back to their 2019 levels until around 2025
  • Senior management staff levels have had to be reduced by a third (involving around 400 compulsory redundancies)
  • All expenditure, except for that needed to keep the airport operating, has been paused
  • Heathrow remains committed to community engagement but will review the form it will take in the light of its financial circumstances.
  • Its commitment to minimising the impact of noise has not changed.
  • The holding stacks are not required to be used just now because of the big fall in the number of flights
  • Some more direct routes are being used
  • As expected, with far fewer flights, the number of late-running planes (those arriving or taking off after 23.30) has been reduced significantly.

Supreme Court verdict hears Heathrow’s 3rd runway appeal 


The Supreme Court hear dHeathrow’s appeal against the ruling of the lower Court of Appeal that the National Policy Statement, which allowed Heathrow to prepare its case for a third runway, was illegal  on 7th and 8th October.

For details of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the appeal: 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=606

Aircraft have been using shorter routes during COVID


NATS (National Air Traffic Control) confirmed to the Sunday Times that a number of planes have been guided along shorter, sometimes different, routes as it takes advantage of the quieter skies.  These routes have saved time, fuel and CO2.  HACAN was quoted in the Sunday Times as welcoming these improvements which we do but the second part of our quote that the routes must also cut noise for local communities did not appear in the paper. 


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

Our latest blog examines the reasons why flight paths are residents’ biggest concern and calls on the industry to use the reform of flight paths that was underway before lockdown to improve the lot of communities https://hacan.org.uk/blog/?p=660

There may be delays in reforming flights paths because one of the things driving the changes was the predicted growth in air travel which because of COVID is going to be less than expected, certainly over the next few years. 

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

Flight Paths At-a-Glance

Why is wind direction important?  Planes need to land and take-off into the wind (unless the wind is less than about 5 knots). But it is wind direction at 3,000ft that is the determining factor.  In a typical year, the west wind blows about 70% of the time.

Are there fixed routes?  In some places. For the final 8 or so miles before landing, planes are expected to be lined up with the runway.  And on departure must stay on their flight path until they reach at least 4,000 ft.  Otherwise nothing is fixed though in practice some areas are much more overflown than others.

Will I be overflown all-day long?  It depends where you live.  If you are under the final approach as planes arrive over West London, you get a half day’s break as planes switch runways at 3pm.  Elsewhere, you can get all-day flying.

Will a third runway affect flight paths?  It will need the creation of new arrival flight paths lined up with the new runway. And also some new departure routes.  It will mean more planes of some of the existing approach paths.  But is may mean fewer planes over communities further from the airport as Heathrow has said it will introduce rotating flight paths to give these places relief.

Will flight paths change?  Yes, new the introduction of new technology will mean the introduction of more precise routes (at airports across the world) whether or not a third runway is built.  We won’t know the details of these new routes for several years yet. 

For more on flight paths, click on the side-bar or scroll down this page.  


Poll shows people enjoyed the peace and quiet of lockdown

80% of residents felt positive about the reduction in flight numbers from Heathrow during lockdown, citing in particular improved sleep patterns, according to a survey of over 3,000 people just released by the No3rdRunway Coalition: c-4b9c-be04-d9f1956466a9.filesusr.com/ugd/8b8ad1_eebhttps://533d67b8-cd8c-4b9c-be04-d9f1956466a9.filesusr.com/ugd/8b8ad1_eeb11ac280fa403cbcecf65a5db41a6e.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.

Community Contract


The Coronavirus lock-down has revealed a lot of anger amongst airport communities at the way they have been treated by their airports over the years and a feeling that it has taken the coronavirus crisis to give them some of the peace and quiet they have been yearning for.

Communities are looking for a better, fairer deal.  The Government has a real opportunity to ensure this happens in its forthcoming Aviation White Paper.  A dozen airport community groups across the UK have signed a proposed community contract with airports.  It builds on some of the proposals in the DfT’s Green Paper and also on some of the processes and ideas which Heathrow has been developing. 

You can read the proposed contract here:  http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Community-Contract-with-their-airport.pdf

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-1.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.


And Heathrow tops the European league: http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/European-Airports-numbers-impacted.pdf 

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