Bristol airport planes off track

6.8.2009 (Stop Bristol Expansion press release)

A dramatic image released by the Stop Bristol Airport Expansion campaign (SBAE)

shows just how many flights from Bristol International Airport (BIA) are spreading
out from

standard flight paths.

The image is a map of the Bristol, Bath and Chew Valley area on which flights
departing from BIA are shown alongside the standard paths [1] for BIA during one
week from the 28 May 2009 (overlapping the school half-term holidays)].     SBAE
say that while some variations are allowed to the regular flight paths, their
data illustrates just how wide an area flights from BIA have covered.

The campaigners say it is likely that planes travelling wide of their regular
flight paths will become much more frequent if the airport is allowed to expand
as it plans.

Speaking for SBAE, Jeremy Birch said:     "This data confirms beyond a doubt just
how far afield planes from Bristol airport are flying – not that this will come
as any surprise to people living in those areas.

"The regular flight paths have been planned to minimise flights over populated
areas, but more planes travelling wide of these will cause more suffering for
local residents.  Plans for 10 million passengers, and 13.8 million by 2030 can
only mean that things are going to get much worse."

The data used to create SBAE’s image was produced from a tracking device used
by SBAE to monitor flights departing from Bristol airport during one week in May.
The device, which cost the group less than £1000, consists of a box that picks
up radio signals broadcast by planes attached to a computer. The system, which
has been used in Frankfurt, can be placed in different locations to pick up signals,
and specially designed software is used to interpret the data.

Jeremy Birch continued: "This image just shows data from departures in one week
in May and in fact isn’t the complete story as it’s based on the radio signals
we were able to pick up from one location. It also only has half the flights as
no arrivals are shown. Even so it is clear that flights to and from the airport
fly over many local communities.   We will continue to monitor flight paths and
use this to show all concerned the impacts of the airport’s operations."

BIA will shortly be operating their own tracker system, which should allow residents
to query any flights they believe deviate from standard flight paths.

A public consultation on the airport’s plans is currently running until 17 August


For more information on how to respond, visit or


For further information on SBAE visit:


[1] ‘Standard instrument departure’ paths (SID)

Stop Bristol Airport Expansion Limited