Noise / Flight paths

Where will the new flight paths be?

We set out a range of options of what flight paths might look like in the future to the Airports Commission (the report can be found here). There are many different ways that flight paths can be designed – depending on whether they are being designed to minimise the total number of people or new people being overflown or to provide respite and share the noise between communities. We hope to consult on these principles as part of our first public consultation, although some may be determined by Government policy (including the NPS).

Any changes to flight paths would require extensive public consultation and will need to go through an Airspace Change Process (ACP) requiring approval by the Civil Aviation Authority. Because of this it is not possible to confirm right now where new flight paths will be.

We understand that means there will be a period of uncertainty for those living around Heathrow. We have developed our plans so that with expansion, we can reduce the number of people impacted by aircraft noise – see our fact sheet explaining how.

Will you maintain runway alternation with a third runway?

Yes. The principle of runway alternation will continue to be used for communities living under the final approach paths. This, along with improvements in the design of airspace around the airport, could allow Heathrow to offer respite to 95% of people under the flight paths for 50% of the time.

With a third runway, we propose alternation will be maintained around four different operating modes. The timing, duration and scheduling of alternation would be subject to public consultation with communities. See more about this in our fact sheet.

Will there be a ban on night flights?

The Government already limits the number of flights which can operate during the night period. At the moment there are on average 16 flights a night the majority of which are scheduled early morning arrivals between 4.30-6am. In May we announced that we would support an extension to the ban on scheduled night flights to six and a half hours from 11pm to 5.30am. We have also said we will support the introduction of this before the new runway opens.

Our proposal will shift the flights currently arriving between 4.30-6am to the 30 minutes between 5.30-6am increasing the amount of time residents have without early morning flights by one hour. There will be no further flights in that half hour period.

How will you compensate people affected by new flight paths?

We have set out two schemes to mitigate and compensate those people most impacted by aircraft noise:

  • The Wider Property Offer Scheme – we have proposed a scheme for homeowners living in very close proximity to the expanded airport, who will have the choice to either remain in their home or sell to us. More details can be found here (link to Property Compensation page).
  • Noise mitigation – we have set out plans for a £700m noise insulation scheme which would include over 160,000 homes. The scheme proposes two zones: an ‘outer zone’ extending to the boundary of the noise contour known as the ‘55 decibel Lden’ (or the single mode easterly and westerly 16 hour 57dB LAeq, whichever is the largest), and an ‘inner zone’ based on the 60 decibel LAeq (16 hour) single mode easterly and westerly contours. The 55dB Lden is the preferred measure of noise used by the European Union and the Mayor of London.

Residents would be eligible regardless of whether they experience noise under existing flight paths or would be newly affected by noise from the new runway.

Under the proposed scheme, homes in the designated zone closest to the airport with higher levels of noise (the inner zone) would have the full costs of their noise insulation covered by the airport. In addition, up to £3,000 in noise insulation would be offered to homes further away from the airport (the outer zone).

You recently announced plans to increase the number of aircraft movements in advance of a third runway being built. How will this be achieved if Heathrow is already full?

We’ve announced proposals that could see the benefits of expansion start to be delivered four years early. This includes proposals for an additional 25,000 flights per year and up to 5,000 local jobs from 2021.

An increase in aircraft movements before a new runway is built will require airspace changes that improve runway efficiency for both arriving and departing aircraft which will enable a small increase in runway capacity. New technologies for arrivals are already being developed and progressed that could deliver this efficiency which would enable us to introduce the 5.30am start time at the same time as the additional flights. Any plans to increase flights would be subject to public consultation and planning approval.

See our pages on Aircraft noise here.


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