Flight path changes and trials

Many people in the area around Gatwick have been experiencing more aircraft noise than usual. There has been an increase in the number of flights this summer (including night flights).

Gatwick has been attracting more flights over the past couple of years. There are more planes taking off and landing. Details

This has been causing real upset and concern to thousands of people, and worry about what other changes Gatwick has planned, let alone the impact of a second runway.

This is a short briefing on what is happening at present – and what people can do.

To see where planes have actually been flying see Flight Tracker


1. Earlier London airspace consultation that ended in January 2014

2. Flight path trial over Warnham and areas to the south west of Gatwick (ADNID)

3. Current flight path consultation by Gatwick airport – ends 15th August 2014

4. How to complain about Gatwick airport noise

5. Night flights

6. Get active! Oppose the aircraft noise.  Join GACC and CAGNE.

 7. New flight paths – compensation


Earlier London airspace consultation that ended in January 2014

This is referred to as Phase 1.  http://www.londonairspaceconsultation.co.uk/

This is the earlier flight path consultation, that lasted from 16th October 2013 to 20th January 2014.  consultation on new flight paths  This was a consultation jointly by NATS and Gatwick Airport Ltd. It is ipart of a wider London Airspace consultation, and NATS says:

“Aircraft today use very accurate navigation technology and new European
legislation requires all member states, including the UK, to revise our airspace to
maximise the use of these new technologies. Change is therefore inevitable; our
focus in this consultation is on how best to enable that change……

“This consultation is the first stage in a wider programme of proposed changes to
deliver the UK’s Future Airspace Strategy, developed by the Civil Aviation Authority
(CAA) with the support of the aviation industry. It will deliver significant benefits,
including fuel savings for airlines which will also mean fewer CO2 emissions, and
less noise overall for people living below.(sic)

“In this stage of the programme we address changes to the airspace supporting
Gatwick Airport from ground level up, and to the airspace supporting London City
Airport above 4,000ft. Later stages will address proposals for airspace supporting
other parts of the London airports network, to be complete by 2020.”

Document at http://www.londonairspaceconsultation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/LAC_Part_A_Intro_SQ.pdf

Flight Path Secrecy ‘Outrageous’

GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) commented, on this first consultation:

It is outrageous that Gatwick Airport and NATS (air traffic control) have consulted in general terms but have ruled out a second consultation, with maps, once the proposed flight paths have been drawn up.

According to Brendon Sewill, GACC chairman:  ‘Some people may benefit from the changes but thousands are going to find themselves under a new flight path, with their peace shattered and their house devalued.  But they will be told that they cannot complain because they have already been consulted!

‘It is obvious why the airport are trying to pull a fast one – because they fear that if they produce a map they would get thousands of objections.[1]  But deceiving the public only builds up distrust and resentment.’[2]

What is now proposed at Gatwick are alterations to the existing flight paths. But a new runway would cause far more disturbance – with every existing flight path being matched by another.

[1]   Consultation in 2009 on changes to flight paths north of the Thames led to over 15,000 objections, and the proposed changes had to be cancelled.

[2]  At Frankfurt airport new flight paths have led to 75 demonstrations in the past 18 months, some with over 1,000 people.


AirportWatch Note:

The 5 letter designators of flight paths (ADNID) are locations at which the Standard Instrument Departure  (SID) routes end – and planes transfer to other routings dependent on destination. From its coordinates we believe ADNID is actually in Lower Wepham Wood approx 3km east of Arundel. The flightpath going in that direction used to be called BOGNA – as it ended somewhere close to Bognor Regis and the 5 letter designators often had some resemblance to the name of a local geographical location. So KENET wasn’t far from the River Kennet. The older routes had three letter acronyms (MID for Midhurst, CPT for Compton..), but as the number of routes shot up they would have run out of options. Now there is concern that the shortage of 5 letter designators could limit future developments !

and CAA guidance


Flight path trial over Warnham and areas to the south west of Gatwick (ADNID)

This is a 6 month trial, of departures, taking off to the west of Gatwick.  It started on 17th February, and so should end by the 17th August.

The reason for the increased flights over Warnham and areas further south west is that Gatwick has decided, with NATS (the national air traffic control service) to do a “trial” of this new flight path. The aim of this is to get more planes off the runway at Gatwick, more quickly, so the airport (and the airlines) can make more money.

By getting some of the planes taking off from Gatwick to the south west to diverge from the normal departures flight path, they can get the next plane off the runway a bit quicker, as they are not following close behind, with the dangers of wake vortex etc.

So the planes are turning left and heading off over Warnham, and villages that were previously overflown relatively infrequently. Gatwick and NATS call this flight path ADNID (they give all their flight paths acronyms, and delight in use of impenetrable gobbledygook and jargon).

The ADNID flight path trial allows Gatwick airport to explore whether reducing the separation between paths gives them the assurance that the time interval between flights can be reduced. (It is still not clear what data allows them to make the safety judgement).     It also means that all these planes flying south don’t have to fly due west for so long (and it allows them to cut the corner (and save fuel).
It is also not clear how this squares with the DfT Guidance to CAA on Navigation which prioritises reducing environmental effects at heights below 4,000 feet, balancing environmental effects like noise, with CO2 savings between 4000 and about 7,000 feet and prioritising CO2 savings at altitudes higher than that.


loxwood ADNID departures



The images (screenshot) above shows what is happening with the ADNID flight path trial.  It shows the tracks on 27 June 2014 between 7.30 and 11.30 hrs and shows aircraft tracks as they depart Gatwick in the more normal westerly direction (aircraft have to take off and land into the wind which is more often from the west than from the east).

Gatwick says of their trial:

This trial is temporary and the outputs will be used to inform the final route designs put forward from our recent London Airspace Consultation and will be submitted to the Civil Aviation Authority for assessment later this year.

There are some maps at http://www.gatwickairport.com/business-community/corporate-responsibility/airspace-strategy/ADNID-departure-trial/  (copied below)

Standard Departures:

PR NAV ADNID trial departures

There is a bit of information on this at https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=20366

One reason for the intensity of the planes is that aircraft used not to be able to navigate terribly accurately. But now they have something akin to car satnav, called Precision Navigation (PRNaV) and with GPS (global positioning) they can fly a very accurate route, sticking to a track just 30 metres or so wide. So the planes can all fly down the exact same line, while in the past they may have spread out over a kilometre width swathe, or wider.

It suits the air traffic controllers to have all the planes down one flight path, as it is then easier for them to control.  Hence the concentration of flights.

It has long been the key issue in air traffic control, and in aviation, whether it is “better” to concentrate flight paths, so most flights go over a small number of people (and hence there are less complaints) or to disperse them over more people, so the misery is shared (but likely to get more complaints). There is no right answer to this. Government policy has been to get flight paths over as few people as possible, to keep the complaints down. (Airports often count multiple complaints by one person as just one complaint …….)

As this is called a “trial” the airport is allowed to just introduce it, with no warning period. The Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee decided that it would be best to give parish councils etc no warning before the trial, in order to avoid to many complaints.  [It could be argued that the airport has spectacularly “shot itself in the foot” with this misjudgement].

If there is enough fury by local people, expressed strongly enough, there is a chance that this flight path will not become permanent.

However, it is important that as many people as possible, express their opposition to this flight path, as strongly as possible.

Stunned and appalled by the new aircraft noise burden imposed on them, people at Warnham, led by the remarkable and dynamic Sally Pavey, set up a local protest group, called CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions).

She and her neighbours and fellow villagers have been very distressed to find the peace and quiet of the homes they have worked for years to buy being destroyed, for the airport’s profits. CAGNE has already built up a strong membership and an effective campaign.

Because of the degree of upset, anger and despair in the Warnham area, it has been relatively easier to get a lot of people mobilised for action.

There are many people in Loxwood, Slinfold and other nearby villages who are part of the CAGNE campaign.

Anyone affected by the ADNID trial should contact CAGNE cagnegatwick@gmail.com and join up with them. Due to the extent of the anger and concern about other flight paths around Gatwick, CAGNE has also set up CAGNE East and CAGNE East Sussex.

The older, long established campaign group opposing Gatwick expansion is GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) www.gacc.org.uk has been campaigning on Gatwick issues for some 50 years. Anyone concerned about flight path issues is encouraged to get in touch with them, and join.

There is plenty of excellent information on their website at http://www.gacc.org.uk/latest-news.php

The more support and backing GACC have, the better – and the stronger their voice is, both in fighting these flight paths, but also fighting the proposed new runway.

CAGNE has set up some local Drop-In Events to discuss the flight paths, and opposition to them:

Saturday 5th July Rusper Village Hall
Saturday 12th Comrades Club Warnham
Saturday 19th Slinfold Village Hall
All 10-12.30pm

Sally Pavey, who is organising them, is at cagnegatwick@gmail.com


The procedure for making the trial flight path route (in this case, the Warnham ADNID trial) permanent is that the CAA has to approve the change. Because it involves a change to a Noise Preferential Route (NPR), for departures, the Department of Transport has to approve too. So its approval is not automatic. The airspace changes outside the NPRs only involve the CAA, as far as we are aware.

Gatwick Airport’s FAQ page on their Warnham, ADNID, trial


and their airspace consultation page


This is what Gatwick says it is doing to make Gatwick a “quieter airport”  (sic)


…………. (to be taken with a large pinch of salt, when the airport plans a new runway and a doubling of flights ………………..)


Current flight path consultation by Gatwick airport – ends 15th August 2014

GACC has now produced a detailed and excellent document, deciphering the badly written consultation document, and setting out the important facts so people can respond to the consultation. GACC notes on Airspace Consultation Phase 2  –  July 2014


Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) have issued a consultation on their plans to redraw many of the flight paths around Gatwick.  They call this Phase 2 of the consultation.  Link

This is Gatwick’s summary (2 pages) of their consultation http://www.gatwickairport.com/PublicationFiles/business_and_community/all_public_publications/aircraft_noise/Airspace%20consultation/Airspace_consultation_summary.pdf

They could have a serious impact on many towns, villages and rural areas. The affected area is from Guildford to Tunbridge Wells, and from Petworth to Sevenoaks, and could represent the largest change in the noise impact of Gatwick for a generation.

GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has serious concern that these changes could cause great anger and distress.

The consultation document is complex, badly written and difficult for lay people to understand. We have asked Gatwick Airport to produce a simplified version, and to extend the consultation period. Both requests have been refused.

Stewart Wingate, when asked if Gatwick would re-write the consultation so it is intelligible to non-experts in air traffic management, says that “… if adequate time is taken the lay person can understand the issues and provide us with valuable feedback.”

But how much time must the lay person expected to give to trying to understand this document?  It seems unreasonable that busy people, with their own lives to live, should have to sit for several hours, labouring over Gatwick documents, attempting to decipher concepts and terms which, with a bit of planning and ability to write plain English, should have been made clear.

The end of the consultation is 15th August.

GACC has made these initial comments about the consultation:

  1. Any change in flight paths causes great distress and anger because the previous peace is shattered, expectations of future peace are destroyed, houses are devalued and people are unable to move and feel imprisoned.  People have paid extra for houses that are not on flight paths only to find that new flight paths are being created – without compensation.
  2. One of the main motivations is GAL’s desire to get more aircraft off the runway, and thus to make a larger profit.  [It is a private company owned by overseas investors.]  There is no need for extra flights when Stansted is only half full.
  3. The consultation covers too small an area because disturbance is experienced far beyond the noise contours, particularly in areas where background noise is low.  It is a disgrace that no maps are given showing the full length of the new flight paths.  [The reason is that this consultation is being conducted by Gatwick Airport Ltd which is responsible for flight paths below 4,000 feet.  NATS (National Air Traffic Services) is responsible for flights above that height.]
  4. No details are given in the consultation of the new point-merge system for arriving aircraft which will affect much of East and West Sussex, and part of Kent.


  1. A risk is that this consultation will set community against community.   Anger should be directed at the airport, not at  neighbours. Communities need to join forces to oppose this together, and not allow the airport to “divide and rule.”
  2. The airspace is being redesigned in ignorance of what causes disturbance.  The necessary research has not been done.  For example, there is no evidence that concentration will cause less disturbance than dispersal. Ten flights an hour over one person may cause as much annoyance as one flight an hour over ten people.
  3. The proposed new flight paths all relate to the existing runway.  If ever a new Gatwick runway were to be built, all the flight paths will need to be revised, with new flight paths over areas at present peaceful.  So why cause extra hassle now, when there is no urgent need for change?
  4. GACC is asking for public meetings to be held across the affected area, so that people can understand what is proposed.
  5. The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) has found after years of working on flight path issues, that local residents suffer more from noise pollution than urban residents as they are used to the peace and quiet. The background noise level is higher in towns, so the relative increase in noise when a plane goes overhead is greater in a rural setting than in an urban one. This is a significant difference. It has been acknowledged in the noise regulations used by local authorities.


The Gatwick airport consultation documents are at   http://www.gatwickairport.com/business-community/aircraft-noise/consultations-and-schemes/airspace-consultation/airspace-consultation-documents/

Some of the documents are very large, as well as complicated and not clear. For some of the rural areas affected, the speed of the local broadband is not sufficient to download them.




How to complain about Gatwick aircraft noise

The email to contact is  noise.line@gatwickairport.com

It is an email address that can be used for making complaints about aircraft noise. Such complaints only receive platitudinous replies but they are counted in official statistics that demonstrate that people are annoyed.

GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) suggest that people should use this means of complaining whenever they are bothered – perhaps once a day. But not so often that the process of complaining further damages their quality of life!  Residents might also like to make their feelings known to their Parish Council and urge it to support GACC.

Many people are saying that aircraft are causing much more annoyance than ever and are asking what has happened.

Those who complain about the narrowing of the departure route will probably be told that it has been done to minimise the number of people who are over-flown. But there is no evidence that this policy is better than spreading the load. Such concentrated noise, inflicted on a small number of people, may well have costly health consequences that exceed the consequences of inflicting less frequent noise on a larger number of people. Nobody knows because no experiments have been done to find out.

We suggest people complaining ask for the evidence to support the policy that concentration is preferable to dispersal.


The advice on the GACC website says:

How to complain about noise

1.Note exact time of aircraft.

Telephone Gatwick Airport – Freephone 0800 393 070
or email: noise.line@gatwickairport.com

2. Ask for written reply. If appropriate, ask for a print out of the aircraft track, and details of its height over your house.

3. If told aircraft did not exceed noise limits, point out that the monitors do not detect all infringements because not all aircraft fly over them. Nor, probably, are the monitors near your house (they are about a mile from the end of the runway).

4. If told that the matter will be taken up with the airline, or with Air Traffic Control, or with some airport committee, insist on seeing response or action from that body.

5. If still dissatisfied, write to your MP. Copy to GACC please. gacc@btconnect.com 

6. You may also like to visit the Gatwick airport web site:
The flight tracker enables you to see the track of each aircraft, after a 20 minute delay. But be sure to register your complaint.

Flight tracker



CAGNE suggest you copy them any complaint emails you send:

Please cc CAGNE when you email the noise line as we are keeping an independent record as well as cc’ ing Department for Transport and CAA. The addresses to cc are as follows:




The UK’s “Aviation Policy Framework” of March 2013 states: (Page 61)

3.31 The routes used by aircraft and the height at which they fly are two significant factors that affect the noise experienced by people on the ground. Consistent with its overall policy to limit and where possible reduce the number of people adversely affected by aircraft noise, the Government believes that, in most circumstances, it is desirable to concentrate aircraft along the fewest possible number of specified routes in the vicinity of airports and that these routes should avoid densely populated areas as far as possible. This is consistent with the long-standing concept of noise-preferential routes which departing aircraft are required to follow at many airports, including the noise-designated airports. Within the countryside, in common with other relevant authorities, the CAA has legal duties to have regard to the purposes of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and must therefore take these into account when assessing airspace changes.
3.32 However, in certain circumstances, such as where there is intensive use of certain routes, and following engagement with local communities, it may be appropriate to explore options for respite which share noise between communities on an equitable basis, provided this does not lead to significant numbers of people newly affected by noise. Whether concentration or respite is the preferred option, those responsible for planning how airspace is used should ensure that predictability is afforded to local communities, to the extent that this is within their control. Further guidance on these airspace matters will be provided when the Department for Transport updates its guidance to the CAA on environmental objectives relating to the exercise of its air navigation functions (see Chapter 5).
Information and communication 
3.33 At all airports, the key principle should be that airports act as good neighbours so that local communities have conidence that airport operators take their noise impacts seriously. This requires airports to be open and transparent in their communications. The Government expects airports to help local communities understand these noise impacts and performance against relevant targets or commitments through monitoring, provision of information and communication designed around the specific noise impacts and the needs of the community. We expect airports to select appropriate tools such as noise monitors (ixed and mobile), online information showing aircraft light paths, heights and noise, track-keeping, performance reports and metrics which describe noise in ways which communities can easily understand. We encourage the CAA to consider how it can use its information functions (see paragraph 4.25) to share good practice in how airports monitor, report and communicate their noise impacts.






DfT document, Guidance to the Civil Aviation Authority
on Environmental Objectives Relating to the Exercise of its Air Navigation Functions

January 2014

This states:

4.1 The usual maximum altitude for a Noise Preferential Route (NPR) is 4,000 feet (amsl – above mean sea level) and this reflects the long standing view that noise from aircraft flying above this level is much less likely to affect the key noise metrics used for determining significant community impacts. As aircraft continue to climb from 4,000 feet (amsl) their noise impact reduces. Set against this, there is also a need to ensure that aircraft operations are efficient and that their emissions are minimised. So when considering airspace change requests, the CAA should keep in mind the following altitude-based priorities:
in the airspace from the ground to 4,000 feet (amsl) the Government’s environmental priority is to minimise the noise impact of aircraft and the number of people on the ground significantly affected by it;

where options for route design below 4,000 feet (amsl) are similar in terms of impact on densely populated areas the value of maintaining legacy arrangements should be taken into consideration;

in the airspace from 4,000 feet (amsl) to 7,000 feet (amsl), the focus should continue to be minimising the impact of aviation noise on densely populated areas, but the CAA may also balance this requirement by taking into account the need for an efficient and expeditious flow of traffic that minimises emissions;

in the airspace above 7,000 feet (amsl), the CAA should promote the most efficient use of airspace with a view to minimising aircraft emissions and mitigating the impact of noise is no longer a priority;

where practicable, and without a significant detrimental impact on efficient aircraft operations or noise impact on populated areas, airspace routes below 7,000 feet (amsl) should, where possible, be avoided over Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks as per Chapter 8.1 of this Guidance; and

all changes below 7,000 feet (amsl) should take into account local circumstances in the development of airspace structures.




 Night flights

This is information from GACC:

The noisiest types of aircraft are banned between 11.00 pm and 7.00 am. The number of flights between 11.30 pm and 6.00 am is limited by a quota – at present 11,200 in the summer (seven months) and 3,250 in winter.There is also a separate quota system based on noise, with noisy aircraft using more points. Aircraft are classified as QC1, QC2, QC4 etc. A QC4 aircraft uses four points and makes twice as much noise as a QC2. A QC2 uses two points and makes twice as much noise as a QC1. There has been a change in classification which makes it difficult to compare past and future figures.The Government has carried out one consultation on the system for controlling night flights.  They have now proposed to make virtually no changes until 2017 – see Latest News.
In 2006 the Government announced its decision on the number of night flights from Gatwick for the six years 2007 – 2012. The number of night flights remained at roughly the previous level but there was a gradual 10% reduction in the amount of noise permitted at night. The noisiest aircraft were banned (except when delayed). GACC welcomed this small improvement. GACC press releaseGatwick has more night flights than Stansted, and twice as many as Heathrow. The total level of noise permitted at night each year at Gatwick is greater than at Stansted but less than at Heathrow.





Get active ….. Join GACC and CAGNE

1. GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

Please support GACC by becoming a member.


GACC is a voluntary association, with an executive committee elected each year at our AGM.   Care is taken to ensure that our committee includes representatives from each area around the airport, and that each committee member is prepared to work for the general public welfare of the whole Gatwick area.

GACC is totally law abiding, and relies on rational argument to influence government and aviation authorities.

Because we represent the whole area around Gatwick, because we are democratically elected, and because we have established a high reputation for accuracy and constructive proposals, we have strong support from local MPs and considerable influence in Westminster and Whitehall.

Send us a subscription or a one-off donation – we would welcome your help. As a member you will be able to attend our AGM and vote for who should serve on our committee.

Please print this subscription form and send it to us with a cheque,

or email gacc@btconnect.com 

and we will send you full membership details.

There is more information on what you can do at http://www.gacc.org.uk/contact-us.php




 2. CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise & Emissions)

CAGNE was formed out of residents’ outrage at a new flight path being implemented over their homes without consultation on the 17th February 2014.
CAGNE aims to inform and share information between residents on the  new flight paths out of Gatwick Airport. 
CAGNE does not support a new runway at Gatwick Airport for many reasons such as lack of infrastructure to support an airport the size of Heathrow, and it will bring an even greater number of new flight paths over areas not previously over flown before.
CAGNE is a forum for concerned residents to exchange information and has individual smaller groups working to raise awareness in their specific parish. 
CAGNE is free to join and has members from Warnham, Rusper, Kingsfold, Rowhook, Broadbridge Heath, Slinfold Parishes plus areas of North Horsham.

To join CAGNE simply email CAGNE with your name, postal address and contact number join the mailing list. Email to join the CAGNE mailing list  cagnegatwick@gmail.com




Twitter @cagne_gatwick



New branches of CAGNE have been formed in Kent (CAGNE East) and in East Sussex

There is another group now active in the Bidborough area. That is largely an environmental group, but has now taken on the flight path challenge. There is also a new grouping of High Weald parish councils, around the Hever area, as they are seriously overflown, and fear worse. There is some info on the CAGNE groups at https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=22106 ]

Gatwick flight paths Kent


Screen shot showing flight paths affecting Kent and West Sussex



Flight path changes could create nationwide protests


Blog by John Stewart