Gatwick flight paths
In February 2014 Gatwick Airport Ltd started trials
of new flight paths for aircraft taking off in a
westerly direction designed to see if it was
operationally feasible to improve time separation
between flights off Gatwick’s single runway. In
practice this was a test to see whether in time the
total number of take offs could be increased.
Three alternative routes were tested, designated A,
B and C. All three represented variations from the
current flight path known as the Noise Preferential
Route and involved an earlier, tighter turn south
for aircraft departing towards the Channel coast.
The consultation documents were complex and appeared
to give a misleading impression about what this
meant in practice. The maps showing the three test
routes all suggested that aircraft would still pass
by the town with a reasonable margin, even in the
case of option A which came closest.
But the trials clearly showed this not to be the
case, or rather that the additional noise
disturbance caused was unacceptable. The Society
received reports of significant increases in
aircraft noise, with as many as one aircraft every
two minutes, in homes in both the north and west of
It was quite clear that Gatwick Airport’s aim of
ensuring that flight paths continued to avoid built
up areas had not been achieved and that the trial
had failed. The Society has made it clear that we
oppose any change to the current flight path.
At the end of the six month trial the original
flight path was reinstated and the Society aims to
ensure it remains as it is.