GACC reveals indicative flight paths for a 2nd Gatwick runway, showing new areas overflown
Maps illustrating probable flight paths from a new Gatwick runway have been produced by the local community group, GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign). The maps have been designed with a knowledge of the principles of air space design and aeronautical principles, and have been checked out with an air traffic control expert. The maps show the new departure routes as likely to cause disturbance in Horsham, East Grinstead, Dorking, Reigate and many villages which are at present not overflown. The arrival routes are shown as covering most of Sussex. Brendon Sewill, Chairman of GACC said of the new maps that “If Gatwick Airport Ltd don’t like them it is up to them to produce their own maps.” The problem with a 2nd runway and hence huge increase in the number of flights, is that If flight paths are to be designed to minimise the risk of accidents flight paths will need to go over areas at present peaceful. The maps are based on a so-called ‘wide-spaced’ runway 1,035 m to the south of the existing one. With planes landing and taking off on each runway, there need to be 2 parallel tracks some 1,035 m apart and flight paths would need to be designed to avoid mid-air collisions.
Routes of probably new flight paths from a 2nd Gatwick runway
New flight paths
17.5.2013 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
Maps illustrating probable flight paths from a new Gatwick runway have been produced by GACC. They have been designed with a knowledge of the principles of air space design and aeronautical principles, and have been checked out with an air traffic control expert.
The maps show the new departure routes as likely to cause disturbance in Horsham, East Grinstead, Dorking, Reigate and many villages which are at present not overflown. The arrival routes are shown as covering most of Sussex.
“These maps are illustrative, not definitive,” said Brendon Sewill, GACC chairman, “They show where the flight paths may be, may well be, not definitely where they will be. If Gatwick Airport Ltd don’t like them it is up to them to produce their own maps.”
“Many people are inclined to think that a new runway will just be a strip of concrete: they forget that it would mean twice as many planes in the sky. If flight paths are to be designed to minimise the risk of accidents they will need to go over new areas at present peaceful.”
A note describing the logic underlying the design of the new maps – and the maps themselves – are below.
Flight paths for a new Gatwick runway
A note by GACC
The maps below are only illustrative, and should not be taken as showing the exact position of the future flight paths.
It is up to Gatwick Airport Ltd in conjunction with National Air Traffic Services (NATS) to publish more accurate maps so that the public can be aware of the probable consequences of a new runway.
Airports which build new runways, however, usually decline to publish flight paths until after the new runway opens, thus helping to defuse opposition. The excuse is that the air traffic control authorities have not yet decided on the routes. This can cause huge resentment. For example, at Frankfurt after a new runway was opened in 2011 there were massive demonstrations with up to 8,000 people protesting that they had been misled. [ link ]
Gatwick Airport Ltd have stated that they are looking for a location for a new runway between the airport and Crawley.
In 2003 when a similar proposal was last discussed, BAA, the then owners of Gatwick, stated that any new runway south of the existing runway would need to be operated in mixed mode, that is, being used both for landing and for taking-off as is the case with the existing runway. The existing runway would also need to continue in mixed mode.
At Heathrow, which has two runways, one is used for landings and one for take-offs, which is called segregated mode. That is practicable because four out of the five terminals lie between the runways.
At Gatwick, however, the two existing terminals lie to the north of the existing runway. It would not be possible to operate a two-runway Gatwick in segregated mode because aircraft using the new southern runway would need to cross the existing runway to reach the existing terminals. The only practicable way to operate a two-runway Gatwick would be in mixed mode, so that aircraft using the existing runway would use the existing terminals, and aircraft using the southern runway would use a new terminal between, or to the south of, the runways.
Gatwick Airport Ltd have stated that they are considering a close parallel runway or a wide spaced runway. In the case of a close parallel runway, arrivals and departures would need to be synchronised in order to avoid dangerous wake turbulence. That would severely limit the capacity of the airport, and is unlikely to appeal to the Airports Commission.
The maps are therefore based on a so-called ‘wide-spaced’ runway as shown in the 2003 Air Transport White Paper, and in the 2012 Gatwick Master Plan, 1,035 m to the south of the existing runway – the closest together that is permitted under international regulations for independent operation.
Existing departures – New runway departures
With independent mixed mode operation it would frequently occur that two aircraft were taking-off simultaneously, in the same direction one from each runway. Initially they would be on two parallel tracks 1,035 m apart. Flight paths would need to be designed to avoid mid-air collisions.
When taking-off towards the west, the safest route would be for aircraft from the new southern runway to peel off left, close to Horsham. Alternatively they might be directed to take a wide swing round to the north and then to the east, taking them over the Surrey Hills AONB, and the southern side of Dorking, Reigate and Redhill.
Aircraft taking-off towards the east would need new flight paths, with the existing flight path to the south-east (Seaford Easterly) having to be moved further east, possibly over East Grinstead (shown on the map as a dashed blue line).
Existing arrivals – New runway arivals
Most aircraft approach Gatwick from the east, keeping to a straight ‘glide-path’ for the final 10-15 miles.
With two runways operating independently, for the final 10-15 miles there would need to be two parallel approach paths, one kilometre apart. So the approach path for the new southern runway from the east would pass directly over Dormansland.
At present aircraft fly on a wide variety of routes over Sussex (all passing over the Ashdown Forest AONB) before joining the final approach path. If that dispersed system continues, the effect of a new runway would be merely to double the number of aircraft in the sky.
In a few years time however, as a result of improved navigational equipment, the flight paths are likely to be concentrated onto a few routes in the same area. With two runways and twice the number of aircraft, the number of such concentrated routes would be likely to double. It is not known where these routes might be – the maps are purely illustrative.
A similar situation would apply for aircraft approaching from the west. There would be two parallel approach paths 1 km apart for the final 10-15 miles. And double the number of concentrated flight paths approaching from the south.