Heathrow consultation – more flights over NW London?

Airspace and future operations consultation

Heathrow Airport launched its next phase of consultation on the Heathrow expansion project on January 9, 2019. It runs to March 4, 2019. By now everyone should have received the leaflet about it too.

The Mayor of London is encouraging us to have our say on this crucial issue.

HACAN* says “Heathrow is planning the biggest change to its flights’ paths since it opened in 1946.  It will have a fundamental impact on residents.

We should probably pay attention.

The consultation covers three key areas:

  • Airspace change for an expanded Heathrow: the local factors Heathrow should consider in different geographic areas when designing future flight paths.
  • Airspace change to make better use of Heathrow’s existing two runways: the local factors Heathrow should consider in different geographic areas when designing new flight paths for some arrivals on their existing two runways.
  • Future operations for an expanded Heathrow: how Heathrow will operate their three runways in the future, this includes managing noise; respite through runway and airspace alternation; directional preference and night flights.

Here is some publicity material explaining this in more detail:

For a more sober take on the proposals, read the excellent analysis produced by HACAN*, giving both good food-for-thought and help with navigating the full consultation document from Heathrow (although the latter is accessible and well worth the read too).

New flight paths

During the first phase of Heathrow consultations, from January 17 – March 28, 2018, most of the focus was on the third runway, and the impact it would have on the communities nearest the airport. However, with increased capacity comes the need for more and redesigned flight paths.  These have a wider impact and are therefore probably the most pertinent aspect of the proposed changes to us.

In Heathrow’s Airspace Design Principles for Expansion they state the expansion:

Should limit, and where possible reduce, local noise effects from flights by: Minimising number of people newly overflown

Meaningful respite is a key notion in this thinking, however, even the author of that blog post felt that “If, in order to provide these communities with some respite, other communities will experience a lot of planes for the first time, those communities will clearly lose out.  My own view is that new communities should be avoided if at all possible.

There are, however, proposals for new flight paths over new areas – including NW6.

The design envelopes for potential flight paths for the northern runway are likely to be of particular interest to us (see pages 2-3, 18-19, 20-21).

Other topics of consultation

In addition to new flight paths (airspace changes), the other topics of consultation are:

  • Runway Alternation
  • Westerly Preference
  • Night Flights
  • Extra flights in advance of a third runway

All the proposals assume a third runway will be built.

HACAN’s summary explains what these mean and where to find more information on them in the full consultation document from Heathrow.

Have your say

The consultation runs from January 8 to March 4, 2019.

There is a list of consultation events at https://afo.heathrowconsultation.com/ (although there are none near us).

Have your say at https://feedback.heathrowconsultation.com/ (the first page of the questionnaire has a tool for seeing which specific design envelopes apply to your postcode).

BRAT would like to hear from anyone interested in looking into this further.  If that’s you, please contact us using the controls top, right.


* HACAN, which I think stands for “Heathrow Association for Control of Aircraft Noise” (although even their “glossy 4-pager” introduction neglects to fully explain) is an influential regional campaign group that lobbies on behalf of communities affected by noise from Heathrow and sit on a number of important boards and forums for Heathrow.

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Posted in Consultation, Issues, Opinion
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