Heathrow bows to extent of flight path fury by bringing end of trails forward to 12th November

On 28th August Heathrow started flight path trials, testing if flight paths could be concentrated, over flying slightly fewer people – but creating far more noise for those now under the narrow flight paths, used by more planes. As soon as the trials began people were upset, disturbed and annoyed at the noise misery that had been perpetrated upon them. Protests rapidly sprang up in the Ascot, Windlesham, Lightwater, Bagshot, Teddington, Twickenham and other areas. Heathrow has been stunned by, and swamped by, the number of complaints, and has not been able to cope. Now, as a damage-limitation exercise, Heathrow has announced it will cut its trials short, ending on 12th November, rather than the original end date of 26th January 2015. In addition, trials due to start on 28th October will be postponed till autumn 2015. This is good news for those who have been suffering. However, it is not a decision to stop growth in Heathrow flights – or noise.  Cynics might say that these decisions are to ensure there is less protest about flight paths between now and the May 2015 election, and the Airports Commission decision on a new runway, expected after the election, next summer.



Heathrow Shortens Current Future Airspace Strategy Trials

2 October, 2014 (Heathrow airport press release)

Heathrow Airport today announced that it will be ending the current airspace trials on 12th November, instead of its original scheduled end date of January 26th 2015.   
Heathrow will also be postponing trials scheduled to commence later this month.

These trials being run in conjunction with NATS, are being driven by Government’s Future Airspace Strategy, which requires that all airports implement changes to modernise airspace by 2020.

Heathrow’s current easterly and westerly trials affect departing aircraft, and began on July 26th and August 25th respectively. The trials have been testing concepts and techniques necessary to inform how airspace can be better managed in the future. The routes are not indicative of future flight paths.  [But they indicate what living  under one would be like. AirportWatch comment]. 

To date, the trials have been successful in collecting large amounts of data and have provided valuable insight into the design and feasibility of operating precision routes and how Heathrow could maximise noise respite for local residents with new airspace design.

In light of residents’ feedback and after meetings with local authorities and Members of Parliament, Heathrow asked NATS to consider shortening the trials. It is the view of NATS and Heathrow that sufficient data will have been collected by 12 November to confirm the findings of these trial. Given that is the case, the trials will stop on that date.

Additional trials scheduled to start on 20 October are being postponed until Autumn 2015

Heathrow, like other airports throughout the country, is still required to provide the necessary data to inform the Civil Aviation Authority’s plans for future airspace modernisation and will be required to run other trials in the future. The reaction to the current trials has been much stronger than previous trials held earlier this year. Heathrow will therefore review how any trials are carried out in future and will ensure the details of future trials are fully publicised to residents in advance.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Sustainability and Environment said:

“These trials are crucial in helping us develop ways to manage our airspace more effectively and to reduce noise from Heathrow. We do, however, appreciate that some residents will have experienced a temporary increase in noise as a result of these trials. The feedback we have received during the trials is very important to this process. We are always looking to minimise the disturbance residents may experience as a result of flights around Heathrow, and so we are pleased to have been able to work with NATS to bring an early end to the trials.”

Any permanent changes to airspace require Government approval and will be subject to full public consultation.

Notes to editors

For more information, please visit:  http://www.heathrowairport.com/noise



The Heathrow noise page states:


“Working towards a quieter Heathrow

Airspace Trials update – 2 October 2014

Today we have announced we will be ending the current airspace trials on 12 November, instead of its original scheduled end date of 26 January 2015. We will also be postponing the trial that was scheduled to commence later this month. For more information click here

Welcome to our Aircraft noise website. We know that as well as bringing huge benefits to the UK, an airport the size and importance of Heathrow has downsides for people living nearby, in particular the challenge of aircraft noise.

Heathrow is at the forefront of international efforts to tackle noise. As a result, even though the number of planes has gone up, Heathrow’s noise footprint ** has shrunk considerably over the past few decades. But despite these efforts we know that noise remains an issue. We are committed to addressing it and to reduce the impact of noise on residents.

This site explains Heathrow’s operations including information on flights paths and the rules governing the airport. You can track flights on maps, make a noise complaint and find out what we’re doing to make Heathrow quieter. You’ll also find information on future plans including potential airspace changes.

You can talk to the Community Relations team on 0800 344844 or email us at noise@heathrow.com ”

**  AirportWatch note.  What this means is the area within the 57 dB Leq noise contour may have shrunk. So the number of people living in areas with that level of noise may be lower. But the whole area exposed to more Heathrow noise, at a slightly lower level, will have risen. The number has only fallen, if judged by this somewhat arbitrary measure.

 More Heathrow information at:

 Modernising UK airspace