CAA rejects Edinburgh Airport’s application for flight path change due to “Technical and Coordination” issues

Edinburgh airport’s planned new flight path has been put on hold after the CAA announced it was halting the process.  The CAA’s decision – which is very unusual – is understood to relate to technical aspects of the proposal, as well as a delay in receiving elements of the submission. It is not yet clear what this means for local communities that are affected by the airport and its noise, but the CAA decision is welcomed by local noise campaigners. This was the first Airspace Change proposal, by Edinburgh airport, which anticipates many more. Local group, Edinburgh Airport Watch (EAW) said that during the 2 year consultation process, multiple flaws and errors by the airport were identified at every stage. It remains to be seen whether the CAA will require a new application by Edinburgh airport to be determined under the CAA’s new rules for Airspace Change, rather than the old ones.  Many people under newly concentrated flight paths have been experiencing much worse plane noise, in the past few years.  EAW says the airport now has fewer aircraft movements than 10 years ago, and new routes are not needed. They want the airport to “learn from their past mistakes, and start a proper, meaningful and respectful dialogue with Communities that leads to substantial improvements.”



On 21st September, the CAA stated:

“The CAA has decided not to continue its review into Stage 5 of the Airspace Change Process. We have requested the airport address a number of technical and coordination issues.”



Regulator announces that it has rejected Edinburgh Airport’s application for flight path change due to “Technical and Coordination” issues.

22.9.2017  (Edinburgh Airport Watch press release)

The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority and regulator of UK airspace) has decided “not to continue its review” (of Edinburgh Airport’s application to change flight paths.) They added “We have requested the airport address a number of technical and coordination issues.”

While we have yet to learn the full reasons behind this decision, we believe that it will receive a cautious welcome from beleaguered Communities around the airport.

Throughout the now two year consultation process, multiple flaws and errors made by the Airport have been identified at every stage – errors that the airport recently admitted had “embarrassed” them.

While the justification for the sweeping changes proposed in the skies above us was always unclear, it seems that this most obscene act of corporate opportunism has been stopped in its tracks by the Regulator, at least for now.

The airport may of course decide to re-apply to the CAA. It remains to be seen whether the CAA will require any such fresh application to be determined under the auspices of the CAA’s new rules for Airspace Change – rule changes that are long overdue and that we hope may offer additional safeguards for Communities.

Edinburgh Airport and their flight path designers, NATS (National Air Traffic Services), have already made substantial changes to the pattern of use of the airspace around Edinburgh Airport to the severe detriment of many thousands of people.

Communities across a wide area have woken up one day to the reality of living under a busy flight path – without any warning or consultation. Noise complaints to the airport now run at record numbers – from 10 per quarter in 2015, to typically over 600 per quarter now.

Communities want their peace and quiet restored to them. Many previously tranquil areas are now assailed by over 70 jet planes per day roaring over, many early in the morning and late at night. Changes that the airport continues to deny are changes.

We call on the airport to admit to and reverse the changes in the use of the airspace made since 2015, and only then to resume a conversation with communities about what their flight path needs truly are.

This is the latest in a long line of incompetence and failures by the airport in relation to airspace change.

In 2015, the notorious trial of the TUTUR flight path had to be halted early, partly due to the public outcry, with noise complaints rocketing to nearly 8000 in 4 months, and partly technical because the route was found to be not flyable by all aircraft in all conditions

In 2016 a public consultation on proposed swathes for new flight paths, failed to include all the areas affected, and received an emphatic thumbs down from the public for any further flight path change with overall 60% of responders negative.

In 2017 a second public consultation showing proposed routes was again riddled with error – the airport has recently finally admitted that its published population data did not derive from the Census as they had claimed. It was noted that the only consistent data source that could be found for the population the airport’s published in its consultation book was Wikipedia. The results again proved a distinct lack of support among communities for further flight path change with majority 52% negative with only 28% positive and 20% neutral.

While trials may have been stopped, and consultations ended, the unbearable and unwanted noise has continued for many. Noise that impacts on the health, well being and tranquility of tens of thousands of people in their homes, businesses and schools.

If the airport were creating similar noise levels on the ground, they would be subject to an ASBO. We call on Edinburgh Airport to finally do the right thing in relation to the communities who continue to suffer, and end the noise abuse they are inflicting on their neighbours. Restore the airspace to the 2015 pattern of use, and then start a meaningful conversation with communities about what the future flight path needs truly are.


A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport Watch said:

“We welcome this news from the Regulator, these proposals enjoyed very little support in Communities. The airport never needed all these flight paths, they operate fewer take-offs and landings today than 10 years ago.

We must also remember the tens of thousands of people who continue to suffer daily noise abuse from Edinburgh Airport. The airport cannot continue to ignore the plight of all these people in their homes and we call on them to learn from their past mistakes, and start a proper, meaningful and respectful dialogue with Communities that leads to substantial improvements.

Scotland’s need for a coherent transport policy that takes full account of the health and environmental impacts of the aviation industry has never been more urgent. With most of the flights from Edinburgh airport being short hops mainly to London, why isn’t this traffic being encouraged to go by train, a far less polluting and divisive form of transport?

We call on our Government to act in the interests of the people who elect them, and not those of the anonymous offshore global conglomerates who have gobbled up our airports, and now want to rob ordinary people of our quality of life.”




Email: or

Facebook at Edinburgh Airport Watch and on twitter @EAW_group


Edinburgh Airport Watch is a Community group established in response to the 2015 TUTUR flight trial debacle and other changes in the pattern of use of the airspace around Edinburgh Airport. We campaign for positive benefits for Communities in relation to the operations of Edinburgh Airport. We are non-political and give our time for free.


Notes to Editors:

The EAL Consultation material was based on several false claims:

  1. Population data was wrong throughout the consultation material, rendering incredible the airport’s claim that 25,000 fewer people would be overflown. We cannot find any correlation between the population data the airport published, and the 2011 Census which they claimed was the data source.
  2. Moving to RNAV technology does not of itself require new flight paths as the airport claimed – existing flight paths can be converted to use modern navigation technology such as RNAV.
  3. The baseline of the current pattern of flight paths shown in the consultation actually reflected the multiple and bitterly disputed changes the airport has already made in the use of airspace since 2015 and not the established pattern of airspace use as the airport claimed.
  4.   The airport’s claims that it needs new flight paths to grow do not stand up to scrutiny – there are fewer take-offs and landings at the airport now than at their peak 10 years ago. Passenger numbers have grown, but only because the planes are bigger and flying more full.
  5.  At the initial stage consultation in 2016 many residents were told unequivocally they would not be affected, yet in 2017 at Stage 2, then found preferred routes right over them, eg Winchburgh, North and South Queensferry, Kirknewton. Residents in these areas feel that they have been unfairly disadvantaged as a result.
  6.  Overall, 52% of responders to the second consultation gave an emphatic thumbs down to flight path change, with 28% positive and 20% neutral, yet the airport pressed ahead anyway.
  7. Overall, less than 1% of the population responded to the second consultation, yet the airport claims “change was broadly accepted”. There is no evidence to support such an assertion.
  8. The whole precept of change is based on two factors a) a need for capacity and b) a reduction in environmental impact. It has been repeatedly demonstrated by Communities that the capacity issue is nonsense and that current aircraft movements remain below the 2007 peak. Any foreseeable economic growth could be managed by simple scheduling changes particularly around peak times.
  9. The environmental case is completely flawed; the population statistics are plain and simply wrong and the claims of reduced impacts have neither a baseline nor any methodology. For an industry that prides itself on world-leading safety standards this was a truly shocking and embarrassing shambles
  10. The airport made multiple errors in the response mechanisms, their freepost address was wrong on their website so that responses were returned, incorrect questions were asked in the survey forms, they wrongly rejected many responses. The manner the survey data has been presented is highly misleading, with data presented in graphs using different scaling, making proper comparisons difficult. The practice of including any responses marked “not applicable” is simply wrong, and further renders the conclusions made unreliable.





CAA halts process – Airport flight path switch put on hold

Edinburgh airportEdinburgh airport’s planned new flight path has been put on hold after the Civil Aviation Authority announced it was halting the process.

The CAA’s decision is understood to relate to technical aspects of the proposal, as well as a delay in receiving elements of the submission. 

Christine Jardine, LibDem MP, whose constituency includes the airport, said: “I am surprised at this news and will be seeking further information from both the CAA and the Airport themselves.

“I want to know what this means for local communities in my constituency and the airport as well.

“This is a long running issue and we want see progress made for everyone concerned.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “Scotland’s first airspace change programme in over 40 years is a complex exercise involving many organisations. 

“Our ACP is the first of many and it is clear that all of this needs to be co-ordinated with NATS.

“We’re clear that our proposal is the best balance achievable in terms of surrounding communities and our operation, and work for Edinburgh and Scotland.

“We’ll be working with NATS on the co-ordination issues to allow the CAA to restart its analysis so we can develop the airport for the future.” 




Hi Sarah

Sorry I couldn’t come to the meeting today, I hope it went well.
Anyway – interesting news from the CAA. Not sure what to make of it:
We have bashed out a press statement, which is attached.
Do you know if this is just part of the norm for the CAA and just means a pause in the process rather than the whole thing being stopped?I mean how often have they stopped reviewing an application at Stage 5 of the CAP725 process?
Cheers H
This is the letter sent to MSPs by the CAA today:

I’m writing to let you know that the CAA has informed Edinburgh Airport today that we will not be continuing with Stage 5 of the Airspace Change Process following the airport’s formal application on 4th August. This is the stage during which our regulators review the submission in its entirety, and ultimately make a decision as to whether the change can be implemented.

There are a number of reasons why we have come to this decision. Most of these relate to technical aspects of the proposal, as well as a delay in receiving elements of the submission.

I know a lot of your constituents have raised their concerns about the consultation process. I have to emphasise that our decision does not reflect concerns about the consultation, as we had not completed our review of the consultation when the aforementioned technical concerns came to light.

I also need to be clear that Edinburgh Airport is free to re-submit its proposal once the technical issues we outline in the letter have been resolved.

Please do be in touch if you require any further clarification.

Best wishes,

Will Nathan
Stakeholder Engagement Manager
Communications Department
Civil Aviation Authority