Launch of new group “Plane Justice” for those newly affected by Gatwick Route 4 since May 2016
Residents north of Gatwick, from Newdigate through to Salfords, have launched “Plane Justice”, a collective of communities which seeks to support (whether through campaigning, communications, discussion, negotiation or legal process) those who are, or would be, newly affected by aircraft in airport ‘catchment areas’. Formed in response to changes made to Gatwick departure Route 4 in May 2016, the founders of Plane Justice have experienced on a personal level the stress, anxiety and sense of hopelessness and financial insecurity that changing flight paths causes to communities. The group describes the current iteration of Route 4 as the “Route to Misery”, with a noisy turn and a more southern trajectory after the turn, which overflies more than 7,000 new residents. They want to bring an evidence-based and ethical dimension into decision making about the management of airspace, which in their experience to date of Gatwick and its associated aircraft noise, has been surprisingly lacking. Many people feel there has been a serious injustice in the way areas have been targeted by unacceptable levels of aircraft noise. Plane Justice wants Gatwick’s hated “Route 4” to be returned to its pre-2013 “legacy” position, which was flown for decades with negligible complaints.
LAUNCH OF “PLANE JUSTICE”
Residents north of Gatwick, from Newdigate through to Salfords, have today launched Plane Justice, a collective of communities which seeks to support (whether through campaigning, communications, discussion, negotiation or legal process) those who are, or would be, newly affected by aircraft in airport ‘catchment areas’.
Formed in response to changes made to Gatwick departure Route 4 in May 2016, the founders of Plane Justice have experienced on a personal level the stress, anxiety and sense of hopelessness and financial insecurity that changing flight paths causes to communities.
We are about bringing an evidence-based and ethical dimension into decision making about the management of airspace, which in our experience to date has been surprisingly lacking in a number of quarters.
And we want to bring that same sense of injustice we have felt to the attention of decision makers, in whatever way may be suited to help affected communities achieve resolution.
For further information, please contact Plane Justice: 07564 649069
Notes to editors
1). Plane Justice was formed in February 2017.
2). Members are asked to lend their support to returning Gatwick departure Route 4 (whether using P-RNAV or conventional navigation) to the geographical position and dispersal pattern it occupied for decades prior to 2013 (the so-called ‘legacy route’).
This was the flight path which kept the peace for decades in all communities north of Gatwick, with negligible complaints about noise. This will be a condition of membership until further notice.
3). In the event the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) should determine, in its forthcoming decision on Route 4 [Expected March/April 2017], either to make the current Route 4 permanent, or to return it to its pre-2013 position but corrected for magnetic variance, [Corrections for ‘magnetic variance’ (the drift of magnetic north over time) had not been made for decades, until the sudden imperative to do so in the CAA’s Post Implementation Review in November 2015. Correcting the legacy route for magnetic variance now, after decades of neglect, would have the disingenuous effect of keeping the R4 flight path approximately where it is today.] or to adopt some other route design (e.g. based on split swathes or respite) which still sees new populations significantly overflown, then Plane Justice will take whatever steps it deems necessary to secure redress for its members.
- Route 4 is the departure route from Gatwick which takes around 38% of all westerly departing aircraft. The Route was altered in May 2016 and now overflies new clusters of population in Newdigate, Leigh, Norwood Hill, Sidlow and Salfords.
- Residents campaigning on this issue are pressing for Route 4 to be returned (whether using P-RNAV or conventional navigation) to the geographical position and dispersal pattern it occupied for decades up to 2012 (the so-called ‘legacy route’), which kept the peace for decades in all communities north of Gatwick, with negligible complaints about noise. The legacy route is shown in the left-hand map below which shows a day’s-worth of aircraft flying the route. The red-to-amber colour gradation reflects numbers of aircraft.
- The swathe of the legacy route is compliant with the relevant ‘noise preferential route’ (NPR) legislation, which states that aircraft are deemed to comply with the NPR if they fly within 1.5 kilometres either side of the NPR centre line.
- There is clear evidence that the new Route 4 (see right-hand map below), when flown in ‘real world’ conditions, is not compliant with the criteria set for it by the CAA and is based on a fundamentally flawed design.
- Aircraft ‘balloon out’ in the over-tight turn as they struggle to fly it even in modest winds, and the prolonged use of flaps and slats required is spraying higher levels of noise over a wider areas of population. The route then compounds the misery by turning further south than the legacy route did, thereby overflying many thousands more residents for the first time.
- The evaluation period on Route 4 closed on 26th November, and the CAA is now deciding the fate of the current, second redesign, of Route 4 and of residents newly blighted by it. A decision is expected in March or April this year.
In the image below, on the left is “legacy” Route 4
On the right is the new Route 4
Following a Freedom of Information request, residents blighted by the new Route 4 are in possession of emails, memos & letters between airlines/ pilots and the CAA and Gatwick.
And what they say makes grim reading.
What came back was a catalogue of complaints and disquiet. Plane Justice have quotes from an airline pilot, and Gatwick airport, indicating that the new Route 4 is difficult to fly accurately.
A spokesman from Plane Justice said: “These comments from the sharp end, confirm what residents have been saying for months – that airlines are struggling to fly the current design of Route 4, because the design is flawed and ill-conceived, un-flyable in even modest winds, and non-compliant with normal airspace design rules – quite apart from its breaches of regulations and protocols and the fact it blights many thousands of homes who were completely untroubled by aircraft noise before.
How can this Route design possibly be considered compliant?
We call on the CAA to please do the right thing and return Route 4 to its pre-2013 geographical position and dispersal pattern.”