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 Current issues

August 2014

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 the town.

 

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.