FAQs

We have provided a number of Frequently Asked Questions which may help when responding to the consultation.

Jump to a category

a) General (24)

Where do I send my feedback? How do I respond?

Feedback can be given using the feedback button on the website which will open up a questionairre for you to fill in;  the feedback button is shown after entering a postcode, selecting an area of interest form our map or when viewing the full consultation document.  Alternatively you can emailing us at londonairspaceconsultation@Ipsos-MORI.com.

Alternatively you may post a response to us at:

Freepost RTGJ-SELT-JHTR

London Airspace Consultation
Harrow
HA1 2QG

How will this affect me? Can you do an analysis for my house/village/town?

The postcode and location searches on the website are designed to enable you to determine whether the proposal potentially affects your area of interest and provides summary details of the potential effect.

To determine the effect on a particular area, follow these steps:

  1. Enter your postcode in the postcode search or select on ‘View a map’ in the top right hand corner of the web page and choose an area on the map that appears.
  2. Click on the tab ‘Today’s flights’ to see the traffic patterns that occur today; you can select maps showing different traffic patterns by selecting the options shown above and below the map.
  3. Click on the tab ‘Consultation swathes’ to see the swathes within which we need to position a route.  Locate your area of interest – if it is within any of the shaded areas, this area is potentially affected.  You can select maps showing different traffic patterns to consider by selecting the options shown above and below the map.
  4. The colour of the shaded areas will tell you how high the aircraft over an area would may be, if the proposal was implemented.
  5. Click on ‘Additional notes’ button in the top corner of the maps;  this will tell you how many aircraft may be over this area if the proposal was implemented.
  6. Click on the ‘Noise’ tab to see what aircraft at that altitude would look and sound like.

Following these steps shows you where, how high, how many, and how loud aircraft may be in the future with respect to any given area.

Considering this, if you think that an area needs special consideration to minimise these flights in the future, you can then click on the blue ‘Leave your feedback’ button – one of the questions will ask you to list places for consideration.

Alternatively, if you think you are affected you may wish to learn more.  If so, open the relevant parts of the consultation document that are listed next to the blue ‘Leave your feedback’ button.  This will provide you with the necessary information to allow you to answer all the consultation questions.

Where can I get more info/speak to someone?

The consultation document contains all the information required to enable you to determine the potential effect of the proposal.

Feedback can be given using the feedback button on the website which will open up a questionairre for you to fill in;  the feedback button is shown after entering a postcode, selecting an area of interest form our map or when viewing the full consultation document.  Alternatively you can emailing us at londonairspaceconsultation@Ipsos-MORI.com.

Alternatively you may post a response to us at:

Freepost RTGJ-SELT-JHTR

London Airspace Consultation
Harrow
HA1 2QG

You refer to “environmentally sensitive areas”, “populated or other sensitive areas” and “populated areas and noise sensitive areas”; what is the definition of these terms?

Different communities or individuals may have different perceptions of what is sensitive and what is not, hence we have deliberately left these terms open for indivudals to interpret as they see fit.  Stakeholders are encouraged to give their views what areas may be sensitive to airspace changes, so that we can consider them in the ongoing design process.

Will it mean more flights overhead? Will I see/hear more flights?

This consultation is about how we modernise the existing routes to achieve the optimal solution operationally and environmentally.  The consultation is not about the general trend of increasing numbers of flights (see later FAQ on “Why don’t you stop the number of flights from growing?”).

The net effect of these proposals will be less noise – aircraft will climb higher, more quickly on departure and stay higher for longer on arrival. However, flight paths will change – and this may mean some areas will be overflown more than today, others less, and some will not notice any significant change.

This consultation is your chance to feed information into the on-going design process about any local sensitivity to overflights so that it may be considered in the on-going design process.

  See the FAQ on how will this effect me for more.

Why have you asked me whether I support proposed changes when you have not told me where the routes are?

We are giving you the opportunity to understand and comment on our objectives, as well as the opportunity to feedback information that will allow us to optimise how we might apply them.  It is important for us to understand stakeholder views on the different elements of the proposal so that we know how best to take them forward.  For example you may support the objective of Point Merge but have strong views on areas that should be avoided. Equally you may have information that we have not considered that leads you to oppose Point Merge in principle, regardless of local issues.  It is therefore important that we ask questions relating to our objectives separately from questions that relate to how we may apply them.

Why have you asked me questions about your objectives? Why are you asking me about air traffic practices like Point Merge?

We are confident that our objectives and rationales for seeking to make changes are justified.  However, we are seeking to be as open as possible about the change process, therefore we are keen to give stakeholders the opportunity to understand and comment on our rationales

What is the process for changing airspace?

The process for changing airspace is defined by the CAA in their publication:

CAP 725, CAA Guidance On The Application Of The Airspace Change Process, March 2007, CAA Directorate of Airspace Policy.

For further information on the legal framework for airspace changes in the UK, including government guidance, see Part A of the consultation document

Why isn’t my postcode coming up in the search?

If your postcode does not come up in the postcode search then it is likely that you are outside the consultation area for the proposed changes being discussed in this consultation document.  However, should this happen we recommend that you also check the map that is shown when an unrecognised postcode is entered; this will allow you to check whether you have an interest in the consultation areas.

What will you do with my response? Will you be giving feedback on the results of the consultation?

We have employed Detica and IPSOS/MORI to independently collate all responses.  They will analyse and feedback to us the issues, which we can consider in our on-going design process.  A feedback report detailing the results of the consultation will be published on this website in March 2014.

Responses will be made available to the CAA as part of any Airspace Change Proposals submitted to them for changes covered by this proposal.  This will allow the CAA to assess whether we have taken relevant information into account in the development of our final proposals.

Why should we believe what you say in your consultation document?

At NATS and Gatwick Airport Limited we take our responsibilities very seriously and whenever we present proposed changes we always seek to present the best available information.

Furthermore, the process for airspace change is regulated by the CAA.  As part of this change process we will be required to analyse performance after one year and demonstrate that the change is working as anticipated.  If the CAA determines this not to be the case then they may require us to make further changes to rectify the situation which would be costly and time consuming.

It is in nobody’s interest to have incorrect information in the consultation material.

Why has there been a recent increase in noise over my area? Why have you made these changes already?

NATS is required to go through the airspace change process, as documented in the CAA’s airspace change guidance, when proposing permanent changes to the airspace design. Permanent airspace changes cannot be implemented until a formal proposal has been submitted to, and approved by the CAA.  An exception to this is trial procedures, designed to test technical airspace design issues.  There have been no permanent changes or trails during the consultation period and therefore any recent changes to the perceived behaviour of aircraft in your vicinity are not due to the proposed changes to the airspace structure.

Air traffic control is required to consider a range of factors when determining where aircraft fly, such as other traffic in the area, the aircraft types, wind direction and weather in general. This means that the way in which airspace is used may vary on a day to day basis, and even flight by flight basis (hence the wide swathes in which aircraft may be seen in route and flight path maps in the consultation document). This variation may contribute to a perception of changed airspace usage where the airspace structure has in fact remained unchanged.

It should also be noted that experience from previous consultations indicates that the consultation process sometimes leads people to take more notice of the routes that are already above them. It may therefore seem like a change has occurred when in fact it is more that the communities have become more sensitised as a consequence of the discussion around air traffic.
Questions regarding existing airspace design or airspace policy should be directed to the CAA.

 

Will I be entitled to compensation?

There is no requirement to pay compensation to stakeholders who feel they may be disadvantaged by airspace changes.

Who are the CAA?

The Civil Aviation Authority  (CAA) is, amongst other things, responsible for the planning and regulation of all UK airspace, including the navigation and communications infrastructure to support safe and efficient operations. The CAA is staffed by civilian experts from the CAA and military experts from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with experience of commercial, business [private], recreational and military aviation. The needs of all users are accommodated, as far as possible, taking into account safety, environmental, economic and national security considerations.

Why does the consultation document repeat itself?

The consultation document and consultation website have been designed to allow stakeholders to access information about potential effects in their area of interest.  We have therefore divided the consultation material up to meet the needs of different stakeholder groups.  This has necessarily resulted in a degree of duplication for stakeholders who belong to more than one group.

How do I know that you have considered my response and that of others? I want to be able to see all the responses to the consultation.

At NATS and Gatwick Airport Limited we take our responsibilities very seriously; we will consider all responses and we will ensure that relevant points are fed into the ongoing design process.

To that end we have employed an independent company (Detica) to manage and report on the consultation responses.  The consultation responses, analysis and subsequent design process will all be made visible to the CAA as part of any submission we make to them. They will only approve an airspace change if they have evidence to show that we have followed the correct processes.
Allowing open access to the consultation responses would raise data protection issues.  Our integrity, that of Detica and ultimately the independence of the CAA as the airspace regulator provides the assurance that due process will be followed.

A feedback report which will provide analysis of the issues raised and numbers of consultation responses will be published in March 2014.

I can’t read the maps – they are blurred, will you send me paper copies?

We have provided the maps and documents in a number of ways to suit people using various platforms and broadband connections.  For the highest definition maps please download the high resolution versions of the consultation document from here http://www.londonairspaceconsultation.co.uk/?page_id=37.

These maps are best viewed on a computer where the magnification settings in PDF viewer/Adobe reader can be used to zoom into the area of interest.  Resolution will be lost if viewing printed copies unless printed on A3 or larger paper.

 

Why is this happening? Why can’t you leave things as they are?

Part A of the consultation document available on this website describes how this change is part of the Future Airspace Strategy (FAS), a programme of development led by the CAA and supported by the aviation industry and Government.  FAS is necessary to ensure the South East has an airspace system that can support the UK economy whilst minimising the impact on the environment.  The documentation also describes how European legislation that will force the UK to upgrade the airspace system in order to utilise modern technology, is expected by 2020.  Leaving the airspace unchanged is not an option.

When will this be happening?

The proposal is subject to this consultation, adaptation following consultation and then assessment by the CAA before a decision is made on whether to implement it.  This means that any significant change could not be implemented before summer 2015.  Changes may be phased over a period of time.  See Parts A/G of the consultation document for more details.

Why can’t the aircraft route over another area?

The airspace over East/South East England has routes into and out of the region’s airports.  Getting aircraft to and from the region’s airports inevitably means some areas will be over-flown.

The consultation will help us determine where the optimal route positioning is.

What is the environmental impact/benefit?

The consultation document contains information designed to enable you to determine the potential effect of the proposal.  Use the postcode and location searches on the website to identify which parts are of interest to you.

How many additional flights will there be? Will there be more night flights?

This proposal is to change the airspace structure.  NATS has no control over the number of or timing of flights which are determined by demand and regulated by the CAA.  In putting together the proposal, we have used airport forecasts for likely future usage.  Information on the expected usage of each of the proposed routes, including usage during the night, is presented alongside the maps on the website and in the consultation document.

What difference will my response make? This is already a done deal; what is the point of responding?

This consultation is being undertaken before the detailed design that determines exactly where the routes will be positioned.  The consultation gives you the opportunity to feedback local or specialist information that we may not know about, and which may yet affect the final design.

Who are NATS? Is NATS a private company? Will NATS make money from the proposal?

NATS (En Route) plc, which is co-sponsoring this airspace change proposal, is a public/private partnership.  It operates under licence from the CAA and is subject to economic regulation by the CAA, which imposes a cap on revenues that the company is allowed to earn.  Airspace developments such as this do not generate any increase in revenues for the company.  They are predicated by improvements to safety, environmental benefits and air traffic management effectiveness, not by profit.

b) Safety (3)

Will planes be closer together because of this change and the introduction of PBN?

PBN does not change the standard separation rules in controlled airspace above London and the South East; these are and will remain 3 nautical miles of horizontal separation or 1,000 feet of vertical separation.

Will it be safe?

Our first priority is safety.  The proposals are being designed in accordance with all applicable safety standards and will be assessed by the CAA for their suitability prior to implementation.

Are the current flight paths unsafe?

No, we have one of the best safety records in the world.  Safety is our number one priority in the current operation.  Flights will be delayed from entering the system if controllers believe there is any threat to systems safety.

c) Development Objectives (9)

I think concentrating traffic is wrong – why don’t you spread it around?

A system designed around performance based navigation (PBN) will tend to concentrate traffic along certain routes.  This is in line with government guidance issued by the Department for Transport.
PBN is the cornerstone of the CAA’s Future Airspace Strategy and will improve both operational and environmental efficiency of the airspace as a whole.

NATS and Gatwick Airport are designing airspace in line with this strategy, which means that air traffic will become more concentrated.

However, PBN provides the opportunity to design routes better to avoid population centres and/or environmentally sensitive areas and also provides the opportunity to consider the introduction of respite routes to provide predictable periods where traffic will not be concentrated overhead.  Overall PBN offers improved environmental performance, hence the introduction of PBN is a key objective of the Future Airspace Strategy.

This consultation is your opportunity to feed-back your views on our objectives, and on local details that we should take into account in the ongoing design process.

If you wish to discuss the Future Airspace Strategy or the objective of concentrating air traffic please contact the CAA or the Department for Transport.

Is this just Gatwick airport expansion by the backdoor?

No. These changes are intended to make the operation of Gatwick’s runway more efficient, reducing delay, fuel burn and emissions while managing noise more effectively for local communities.  Runway usage for a single runway operation such as at Gatwick requires arrivals and departures to be interleaved – reducing the gap between departures provides no additional benefit to periods when successive departures are naturally split by the need to land an arrival in between.

Based on current demand profiles we would expect this to mean around 2-5 more departures per hour only during periods of high departure demand when the number of departures significantly exceeds arrivals – this is generally in the morning rush only and so does not represent a significant increase in overall traffic.  Arrival rates are not altered by this airspace change as this is determined by existing separation minima and balanced by the demand of both arriving and departing traffic (an hour with less departure demand can see more arrivals handled on the single runway operation at Gatwick – as is the case today).

For more detail on the proposed changes at low altitudes around Gatwick see Part B.

Concentrating traffic is wrong – why don’t you spread it around?

A system designed around Performance Based Navigation (PBN) will concentrate traffic.  Concentrating traffic is in line with government guidance issued by the Department for Transport.

PBN is the cornerstone of the CAA’s Future Airspace Strategy (FAS) and will improve both the operational and environmental efficiency of the airspace as a whole.

NATS and Gatwick Airport are designing airspace in line with FAS, which means flight paths will tend to become more concentrated.  However, PBN provides the opportunity to design routes to better avoid populations/environmentally sensitive areas; therefore while flight paths will become more concentrated  - that concentration can be positioned in the area where it has least impact.  Furthermore,  PBN enables consideration of respite routes;  these would provide predictable periods where traffic will not be concentrated overhead.   Overall PBN offers improved environmental performance, hence it being a cornerstone of FAS.

This consultation is your opportunity to feedback views on our objectives, and on local details (such as places to consider avoiding) that we should take into account in the ongoing design process.

If you wish to discuss FAS or the objective of concentrating air traffic please contact the CAA or the Department for Transport.

Why are you doing this? Please provide justification

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.

The reasons for changing the airspace are outlined in Part A of the consultation document.

Who will check that the development does what you say it will?

Should the proposal be approved and implemented, NATS and Gatwick Airport will be required to demonstrate to the CAA that the proposals are achieving the target objectives.  In accordance with CAP725, NATS and Gatwick Airport will provide reports on the performance of the development against the target objectives in terms of delay, safety and environmental performance based on the first 12 months of operation.

The results of these post-implementation reviews are made available to the public on the CAA website.

Why are you doing this now if additional changes may be needed in several years’ time?

The modern navigation capability of today’s aircraft offers the opportunity to provide operational and environmental benefits, however there are constraints as to how much we can change right now (this is explained in Part A).  We want to realise those benefits as early as possible, hence we are not allowing the constraints to slow the development of areas where they are less relevant.
Additional changes required in later phases will only be made where they allow us to realise even more benefit.

Why don’t you stop the number of flights from growing? Why don’t you stop night flights and/or prevent traffic from growing? Will this increase the number of flights to/from Gatwick or London City? Isn’t this a smoke screen for a change that enables more flights?

Under the terms of our licence from the CAA, NATS is required to be capable of meeting reasonable levels of demand.  NATS does not have control over the growth of airports, any increase in the number of aircraft flying, the times of flights or the type of aircraft used and such matters are outside the scope of this consultation.

Both Gatwick and London City airports have plans for developing capacity as laid out in their airport master plans and in the case of London City, their current planning application.  These airspace changes would support the numbers of flights forecast for each of the airports.

For how long will this new airspace design be operational?

Airspace changes have no defined lifespan. If changes are required in the future, they will be introduced following the airspace change and consultation process.  This includes any changes required to support the development of new runways; see Part A for details of how  future runways would impact this proposal.

Will air traffic controllers be able to cope with rising traffic levels?

Safety is our first priority. The air traffic control system has procedures such that if traffic levels rise to a certain level, restrictions are imposed to stop further aircraft entering the congested area until such time as traffic levels have reduced to manageable levels.  This is (in very simple terms) how safe levels of traffic are maintained.  These restrictions cause aircraft to be held on the ground, which causes delays to flights.  NATS has a good record of reducing delays over recent years.  The LAMP project is an example of how NATS, Gatwick and London City Airports are being proactive in order to avoid an increase in delays that will occur if nothing is done now.

 

d) Scope of Redesign/Consultation (11)

How will you know where routes above 4,000ft have to start/end given that London City Airport is not ready to consult on their low level routes?

When London City Airport establishes PBN routes, they intend to match the position of today’s flight paths as closely as possible. The 4,000ft point on the existing routes is therefore not expected to change.

Why is the Farnborough consultation separate? Why is the Southend consultation separate?

NATS and the airports are run by separate companies, each with their own business objectives.

The London Airspace Consultation is focussed on improving the efficiency of the network of airspace routes as a whole.  This efficiency is dictated by the traffic flows to and from the major airports in the region -  Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City, and so we have to work particularly closely with these airports, which is why Gatwick airport and NATS are co-sponsoring this London Airspace Consultation.

Traffic numbers for Southend and Farnborough Airports are relatively small and do not have a major bearing on overall system efficiency.  Changes being proposed at Farnborough and Southend Airports are to address local airport issues rather than network issues.

The local airport objectives are also driving the timing of these smaller proposals, rather than network issues of primary interest to the London Airspace Consultation.

The London Airspace Consultation is coordinating with all the smaller regional airports; however, it is not our remit to subsume all local plans into the overall project scope.

Please see www.southendairport.com and www.tagfarnborough.com for information on the Southend and Farnborough consultations respectively.

Why is the Southampton consultation separate?

NATS and the airports are run by separate companies, each with their own business objectives.

Southampton Airport are independently progressing local changes in the vicinity of the airport.  The Southampton consultation area does not overlap with that of the London Airspace Consultation.

Please see www.southamptonairport.com/consult for information on the Southampton proposal.

Do I need to respond to this consultation when I’ve already responded to one about Southend/Farnborough/Southampton one?

Yes.  The proposals are being run by separate organisations, and each has distinct objectives and effects.  You should consider each and provide feedback relevant to the information presented.

Why aren’t you consulting on night flights?

NATS does not have control over the times of flights (see Question “Why don’t you limit traffic growth…”), although the proposed changes to the alignment of routes would affect where aircraft fly, both during the day and at night.  The average number of flights during the night is presented in the data alongside the consultation maps.

How is this linked to airport expansion plans? Have you made an assumption about the outcome of the Airports Commission? Would flight paths need to change again if Gatwick was given a second runway? What if we build an airport in the Thames estuary?

Any development of runways arising from the report from the Airports Commission (chaired by Sir Howard Davies) will eventually require further changes to the airspace system. However, the development of runways does not happen quickly; the report to be provided by the Airports Commission is due in 2015 and any recommendation made will only be the start.  Adoption of any recommendations, design, assessment, planning application and construction processes all take time; if/when the Government decides to progress new runway development we assume that any new runways will not be operational before 2025.

Our focus is therefore to meet short-to-medium term demands by providing an airspace system to help the UK meet the FAS and European requirements, and making best use of the existing runways. Therefore this consultation does not relate to, nor does it take into account, potential development of additional runways at any airport.

Any significant future changes to runway infrastructure will require further changes to the airspace system. The breadth of the required airspace changes will be entirely dependent on whatever option is chosen by the Government.  Any such changes would be the subject of their own change processes and consultation at a later date.

What about military/light aircraft/helicopter flights over my house?

This proposal is focussed on the controlled airspace managed by NATS and Gatwick Airport – military, light aircraft, helicopters and other general aviation normally utilises uncontrolled airspace, which is beyond the airspace controlled by NATS.

Part G of the consultation document describes how the proposal will have an effect on a small number of aircraft that operate in uncontrolled airspace; however, apart from these exceptions, we do not expect the proposal to affect the way in which aircraft utilise uncontrolled airspace.

Why do you need to make changes as traffic levels have reduced since the economic downturn?

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.

Why aren’t you making changes at other airports, such as Heathrow, Stansted and Luton?

This consultation is the first part of a larger programme of work to develop the airspace used by flights into and out of London’s airspace, including Stansted, Heathrow and Luton flights.  Part A of the consultation document explains why we have selected the Gatwick and London City arrivals to be the main focus of this first phase.

Why don’t you limit traffic growth, aircraft types and/or times of flying?

Under the terms of our licence from the CAA, NATS is required to be capable of meeting reasonable levels of demand.  NATS does not have control over the growth of airports, the number of aircraft flights, the times of flights or the type of aircraft used.

Why isn’t London City Airport changing their low altitude routes below 4,000ft as part of this change?

London City Airport is in the process of determining how to best modernise its existing routes below 4,000ft in line with FAS and the forthcoming European requirement for Performance Based Navigation (PBN)  routes (see Part A for details); their intention is to match the position of today’s flight paths as closely as possible.

The changes to routes above 4,000ft proposed here will be more effective if they feed into/from a PBN route structure below 4,000ft, however, they would still be of some benefit, and could be implemented, without any low altitude changes.

NATS and London City Airport are working together to ensure that the changes above 4,000ft and the route modernisation below 4,000ft are coordinated, however, for the time being London City Airport is progressing this work independently, and hence they are not co-sponsors of this exercise.  The intention is to draw the two strands of work together in a joint submission to the CAA in the latter part of 2014.

e) Consultation Process (13)

Why aren’t you including Parish councils in your consultation?

The consultation is open to parish councils. We encourage any parish council and any other individual or group who consider themselves to be a stakeholder to respond.  In order to notify this wide stakeholder group we have also embarked on a media outreach programme that has involved more than 25 articles in local papers, TV and radio, and a further 40 online articles. We will be continuing to build awareness as the consultation progresses to ensure that as many people as possible contribute.

The changes being proposed cover a wide geographical area. We have focused on notifying all County, District and Borough councils in the area and we have asked them to bring the consultation to the attention of interested parties in their area and to add a link on their website. We have invited these Councils to briefing sessions to highlight the elements of the consultation which are most relevant to their area.  The CAA has agreed to this process of engagement.

 

Why have you made the consultation material so complicated?

Airspace is a complex subject and so to make it as accessible as possible we have presented the material in a variety of ways each with a specific purpose.  These are:

 1. The videos and leaflet available to view on our home page; these are designed to show the general areas of interest and explain the basics of what we are trying to achieve.  The objective of this information is to give you enough information to determine whether you are interested in further detail or not.

2. The postcode search maps and noise videos on the website; these are designed as a ‘quick look’ at the areas covered by the proposals.  They do not provide the whole story; they simply show where traffic is today and where it may be in the future.  This information shows areas that are potentially affected, which enables you to answer the key local question… are there any places you think require special consideration in the on-going design process?

3.  The consultation document available from our “view the full consultation  page”; this information allows you to answer all the consultation questions.  We recommend that you download the high definition/resolution versions of the consultation document, and view them on a computer for the clearest picture of the maps.

 4. Appendices to the consultation document; these provide additional information for those wishing to see further details.

This hierarchy of consultation material is designed to enable stakeholders to access the material at a variety of levels.  Furthermore, we have endeavored to make all the material as readable as possible given the technical subject matter.  Ultimately, however, airspace change is a complex subject and so some degree of complexity in the consultation material is inevitable.

Why haven’t you answered my letters/the questions we have asked?

The consultation material has been designed to provide all the information that you need to answer the specific consultation questions.  Furthermore, these FAQs provide a raft of additional background information that may be of interest.  Any questions not already covered, that are asked frequently during the consultation, will be added to this  list of FAQs.

All the information relevant to the proposal is therefore already available publicly and feedback can be given using the feedback button on this website.  A report of the consultation findings will be published on this website by March 2014.

How do I know that you have considered my response and that of others, I want to be able to see all the responses to the consultation?

At NATS and Gatwick Airport Limited we take our responsibilities very seriously; we will consider all responses and we will ensure that relevant points are fed into the ongoing design process.

To that end we have employed an independent company – Detica- to manage and report on the consultation response.  In addition, the consultation responses, analysis and subsequent design process will all be made visible to the CAA as part of any submission we make to them.  They will only approve an airspace change if they have evidence to show that we have followed the correct processes.

Allowing open access to the consultation responses would raise data protection issues.  Our integrity, that of Detica and ultimately the independence of the CAA as the airspace regulator provides the assurance that due process will be followed.

Why aren’t you doing public meetings?

We have agreed the consultation requirements with the CAA. Due to the nature of these changes, in particular the fact that they cover such a wide geographic area in which approximately three million people live, it has been agreed that primary engagement should be through planning authorities and the Airport Consultative Committees that represent the communities as a whole.

However, the consultation is open to all and this website is designed to be as accessible as possible, whilst still providing the necessary detail to allow anybody to contribute effectively.

How are you consulting with those with a disability or those for whom English is not the primary language?

Given the nature of the consultation material, which has technical content and a large number of maps, it has not been practical to produce alternative versions from the outset.

We will, however, consider all requests for making the consultation material accessible to disability groups and/or foreign language groups either in whole or in part.

How do I get a paper copy of the consultation material?

The consultation material is best viewed online where zoom facilities can be used with the high definition maps.  We have not produced paper copies of the consultation document, however all of the documents are freely available to download (in PDF format) and may be printed and distributed with no restrictions.

Note that when printing, resolution on the maps may be lost unless printing on A3 or larger paper.  This is because the maps have high definition optimized for online viewing.

How are you consulting with people who don’t have the internet?

We have agreed the consultation requirements with the CAA.  Internet access is widespread; free internet access is available in most local libraries.

By drawing a wide consultation area you have blighted a whole region – why have you done this?

Our approach is to consult early where we still have the opportunity to consider stakeholder feedback.  This necessarily means consulting before we have narrowed down the options and therefore our consultation area is necessarily a wide swathe.

We have made it clear in the consultation material that not all areas within the consultation swathes will be affected, and that some will actually be impacted less than today.

Why are you consulting in a different way – on swathes rather than definitive route positions as you have done in the past?

We learn from every consultation we undertake. The vast majority of responses to our 2008 consultation came from people under the proposed flight path.  We understand that people will always prefer that aircraft fly over someone else, and unsurprisingly they all objected.  There were very few responses from people further away, so the consultation provided virtually no information of any help except that we needed to consult earlier in the design process and get people’s input before route positions are finalised.

 In this, the London Airspace Consultation, we are asking everyone in the geographic areas identified to assume that a new route may go over them and therefore to provide us with the local information they believe we should factor into designing final route positions.  It is important to remember that this whole area is already overflown today and the changes we are proposing will overall mean less noise for more people.

For more detail on how to interpret the swtahes: why are you not showing exactly where the routes will go?

Why are you not showing exactly where the routes will go?

We have developed a consultation strategy to ensure stakeholder viewpoints are captured early in the process, to feed into the complex route design work that will follow. This involves undertaking a geographically wide consultation at an early stage, allowing us to capture requirements across a wide range of potential design options.

This strategy for consultation has been developed on the basis of feedback from previous consultation exercises.  In these exercises we have developed detailed designs  before consulting, and to undertake the detailed design we have had to make assumptions about local preferences .  However, experience has shown that stakeholders wish to be involved in the process at an earlier stage so that they can directly feed in requirements rather than relying on us to make assumptions; hence we are consulting early across wide swathes before we have narrowed the options.  This enables us to capture your requirements before detailed design work is undertaken.

We recognise that you need to understand the potential effects in order to provide a response.  Therefore while this consultation does not present a final design, it does describe the potential effects across the full range of options so that you can see clearly what the proposal could mean for you.

We have provided maps and data that indicate potential noise and visual impacts across wide consultation swathes covering all the options for route alignment.  These are accompanied by further maps showing today’s air traffic flows, for comparative purposes.

The noise and visual impact experienced at a given location will depend on where the route is positioned within the consultation swathe; high concentrations of traffic would be directly overhead only a small proportion of the overall area.  We are asking you to consider that the routes in question could be positioned anywhere within the consultation swathe, and to be mindful therefore that anywhere within the consultation swathe has the potential for noise and visual impact.

Information on the scale of potential impact is presented alongside or within the maps, describing:

•           The potential number of aircraft that would fly on the route and which may be overhead subject to the final route position within the consultation swathe

•           The altitude of these aircraft

•           A measurement of how loud aircraft at that height would sound at ground level (a metric referred to as Lmax)

With this information you can identify whether the potential impact is significant (i.e. the potential number of aircraft overhead, and the resultant noise and visual intrusion), and whether you wish to feedback to us specific local requirements to take into account in the detailed design stage.

Further details of how to interpret maps and data is provided in Section 4 of Parts B, C, D and E of the consultation material which is available through the ‘view the full consultation’ link at the top right hand of this page.

How will you decide which areas to avoid after consultation?

We will consider all the feedback that we have received alongside the operational and technical requirements.  We will determine an option or options that we believe present the best balance of benefits and we will present these to the CAA.

Ultimately, the CAA will determine whether the case we have made is satisfactory and they will approve or reject the proposal

Will you be consulting again once you have determined the position of the new routes? How will I know if I will be under a route in the future?

We will undertake additional public consultation on any new impacts that arise from the detailed design process that have not been covered in this consultation.  This will include changes to noise Leq contours (down to 57dBA) and SEL footprints (at 90dBA) that can only be assessed once we have detailed designs available.  Additional consultation will cover areas newly impacted by these metrics.  It is possible that low level changes at Gatwick will result in some changes to the noise contours and footprints, if this proves to be the case further public consultation in this area will be conducted.

Above 4,000ft we will undertake additional consultation only if the detailed design process identifies new impacts not already covered in this consultation,  eg it identifies that a route must be positioned outside the swathes consulted on here, or a route that must be at lower levels than being consulted on here.  We have built our swathes to cover all the likely options, and our consultation identifies all the potential impacts; therefore while it is not ruled out, we do not expect to  undertake further consultation in these areas.

This consultation asks all stakeholders within the swathe to assume that they are directly overflown by the routes in question; it says how many aircraft would be on the route, indicates how high they would be and presents information to indicate how loud they would be.  Any reconsultation on final route designs would be presenting the affected areas with exactly the same information.  Consulting twice on the same information will add no value to the process and is not cost efficient.

Our strategy to consult early on swathes rather than later on final route positions is a direct response to feedback from previous exercises.  We firmly believe that the early consultation is the best way to involve stakeholders in the design process.  The CAA has agreed to this strategy.

We recognise that stakeholders will want to know what the final route structure looks like; we will therefore keep our website up-to-date with progress as we reach key milestones such as consultation feedback, proposal submission and CAA decisions.  Should the proposal be accepted the CAA will publish the route system in the UK Aeronautical Information Publication.

We will also continue to engage with key representative bodies (such as consultative committees, planning authorities and aviation groups) as part of the Phase 2 development programme to ensure that the design process is transparent.

f) Local Air Quality Analysis (2)

How has air quality been taken into account in the proposal?

Due to atmopheric mixing and dispersion changes to the location of airspace routes above 1,000ft do not affect local air quality at ground level.

(Ref:  ICAO Doc 9889 Airport Air Quality Manual 1st Ed 2011. Pg 187 Note 5 )

The majority of this consultation relates to route positioning above 4,000ft and so local air quality is not considered an issue.

Part B relates to changes in the vicinity of Gatwick airport below 4,000ft. Assessment of local air quality requires assessment of specific routes; these will be determined on the basis of feedback from this consultation. Whilst it is not expected that this proposal will affect air quality in any way; this can only be confirmed once the detailed design work has been completed. During this design work we will undertake assessments required by the CAA and should there be any local air quality impact we will undertake further consultation with any areas adversely affected.

Will over-flights mean fuel is released overhead (affecting breathing, washing, grass for livestock/bloodstock)?

Fuel dumping only occurs in emergency situations over the sea or above 10,000ft from where it would be widely dispersed before reaching ground level. This is regulated by the CAA. The proposal to change routes will not change this.

g) Analysis and Data (8)

Why are you showing in your maps that aircraft will be lower than they are today?

Aircraft fly over any given area at a range of altitudes.  We recognize that the lowest aircraft, whilst less frequent than those flying at an average height, are likely to have a disproportionate impact, therefore in our maps we have shown the worst case heights for aircraft.

In general the proposal will mean aircraft climb higher quicker on departure and stay higher longer on arrival, however the maps cover the range of potential aircraft heights from worst case upwards.

 

Why are today’s flights numbers shown as flights per day but future flights shown as flights per hour?

Today’s flights are shown as a daily average; given the spread of flight paths seen today a daily average is more appropriate than an hourly figure as hourly figures would, for many places, be illogical figures such as 0.25 aircraft per hour.

Furthrmore, picking a colour coding scale that is meaning across the wide area covered by this proposal also means that it has not been practical to provide distinction in the concentration of todays flights above 35 per day – therefore the red colour coding indicates areas where there are 35 per day and up – including the final approach where all flights line up to land on the runway and so the red color coding can represent 300+ flights a day.  This does not detract from the consultation the key statistics of future flights (discussed below) present the higher figure.

The proposed changes would concentrate traffic onto fewer flight paths.  This means that most areas under today’s spread of flight paths would see a drop off in the number of overflights; however areas directly beneath the new routes would see a marked increase in flights.  We want stakeholders to provide feedback to help us determine which areas get fewer and which areas get more flights in the future.

We have therefore highlighted the maximum number of flights they may see in the future assuming traffic is concentrated on individual routes and not spread out as seen today across much of the consultation area (with the exception of final approach and initial departure); we show this as hourly figures because this  enables us to make distinction  between day, night and busiest hour traffic flows – we could not provide this detail with a flights per day unit.

Has an analysis of noise been done for each household?

The consultation document provides details of potential impacts across wide consultation swathes. You can use the information in the document to determine what the potential effect of the change is on any given location.

Why haven’t you analysed the effect on Leq noise contours or SEL noise footprints?

The majority of this consultation relates to route positioning above 4,000ft; these changes are beyond the point where changes to route alignment are expected to have a significant effect on noise contours/footprints.
Part B relates to changes in the vicinity of Gatwick airport below 4,000ft. Assessment of noise contours/footprints requires assessment of specific routes; these will be determined in the on-going design process that will consider the feedback from this consultation.

During this design work we will undertake assessments required by the CAA and should there be any changes to noise contours and footprints we will undertake further consultation with any areas adversely affected.

Have you considered the impact on people who work outside?

The noise information presented in the consultation document relates to the noise experienced outside. We are seeking feedback on any information that might be relevant to on-going design process so that it may be taken into account.

I live outside the swathes shown in your document – does this mean I won’t see or hear any aircraft?

There are many other routes through the region which are not changing. Part A of the consultation document shows how there is no part of the region that is completely free from over flight: while the proposal will change where traffic is concentrated, this fact will remain.

How do I know the sound on my computer is set right to correctly assess the noise clips?

The definitive source of noise data for consideration with this proposal is presented in Appendix J.

The noise clips are provided to illustrate what these noise levels may mean, and to illustrate what aircraft at a given altitude look like.

There is generally some ambient noise in the clips (eg bird song and/or talking) which may be used to approximately calibrate the volume control. However, these clips are for illustrative purposes only; the noise Tables in Appendix J should be considered by stakeholders wishing to understand the potential noise effects in detail.

The numbers in the consultation document don’t add up – have you made a mistake?

We have rounded all the numbers presented in the consultation document.  The rounding is for presentational purposes and occurs after calculations have been made.  This does however sometimes mean that related numbers do not appear to add up.  This does not, however, mean that they are incorrect.

h) Other Environmental Effects (4)

Have you considered animals, livestock and biodiversity?

The CAA guidance for airspace change states that “it is considered unlikely that airspace changes will have a direct impact on animals, livestock and biodiversity”. However, we would welcome feedback with information regarding any location for which there is reason to believe that this does not apply.

How will you consider tranquillity?

CAA guidance for airspace change does not provide a method for assessing tranquillity. Any assessment will therefore be subjective and dependent on the specific location in question. The Government guidance (see Appendix A) specifically mentions AONBs and National Parks and so we have highlighted them on the maps in the consultation document so that you can take them into account when providing your feedback.

Have you considered the effect on tourism?

The CAA process for airspace change does not require specific consideration of tourism.

The attraction of an area to tourists will be dependent on a range of factors that are best understood by local communities. The information presented in this consultation is to allow you to identify local issues, including those relevant to tourism. We will consider all feedback received during this consultation and so if relevant it will be taken into account in the preparation of the final designs.

Have you considered the effect on our local hospital, school, industry…?

The consultation document provides details of potential impacts across wide consultation swathes. You can use the information in the document to determine what the potential effect of the change is on any given location.

i) General questions about routes and route alignments (7)

Where can I find out the hieght of the aircraft that currently fly above me?

Appendices E and F show a series of pictures illustrating the height of arrivals and departures for London Gatwick and London City airports over the South and East of England.  These appendices can be found and downloaded via the “view the full consultation” button at the top right corner of this page.

How accurately do aircraft fly PBN Routes?

From trials we have carried out, most modern aircraft will remain within 100m of a published straight route and within 500m in a large turn when they are following a RNAV1 PBN route. However, Air Traffic Control may instruct aircraft to fly off the PBN routes and so at times flights would still be seen over areas either side of the routes.

Have you considered sites approved for future housing development?

This consultation provides the opportunity for stakeholders to provide information on future housing developments for consideration in the on-going design process.

Will aircraft always stick to the routes shown?

Air Traffic Controllers will retain the ability to direct aircraft off routes when necessary to maintain safety, land aircraft more efficiently or provide a more direct flight path. This generally only occurs when aircraft are above 3,000ft or 4,000ft depending on the route in question.

What is Point Merge?

Point Merge is a route system for efficiently organising arrivals into a stream for landing. It is described in detail in Parts D, F and G of the consultation document.

Why are the descriptions of benefit for Point Merge slightly different from each other in Parts C, D, E, F and G?

While the application of Point Merge for Gatwick and London City airports will follow the same principles and have the same generic benefits, the relevance and extent of the benefit depends to a degree on what the system is changing from. Today’s operation at Gatwick differs significantly form London City, hence descriptions of Point Merge benefits have been tailored for the airport and airspace in question.

The consultation says you are revising all the take-off and landing routes. Does that mean some areas become free of planes while others are under a flight path for the first time?

No. This is currently a very busy portion of airspace and, as can be seen from the maps of current over flight around Gatwick (and London City), the consultation areas all fall within areas currently over flown. However, flight paths would change and so some people will see more overflying aircraft as a result of changes, while some will see fewer and many will see no change.

Overall, the benefits of concentrating traffic, more continuous climb and descent meaning aircraft are at low altitudes for less time and positioning routes over the sea (London City only) mean that fewer people will be affected by overflights.

j) Gatwick (3)

Why aren’t you considering Steeper approaches for Gatwick arrivals?

The Gatwick approach is currently 3 degrees; this is in line with the international standard defined by ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Authority).  The ICAO Pans-Ops Document 8168 states that, ‘In the case of a precision approach, the operationally preferred glide path angle is 3° …  An ILS glide path/MLS elevation angle in excess of 3° is used only where alternate means available to satisfy obstacle clearance requirements are impractical’.

 

If we were to go against this standard and make a case  to use an angle in excess of 3° for noise purposes, the increase would be limited to 3.2° as approaches steeper than this this would reduce the airports ability to operate in low visibility conditions.  This would mean that when visibility is low there would be increased potential for significant disruption from delay, diversion and increased numbers of go arounds (where pilots abort the approach at low level and ‘go around’ to attempt landing a second time).  It is not possible to vary the angle of approach dynamically based on visibility conditions as the Instrument Landing System that defines the approach angle is safety critical equipment that cannot be changed without being fully tested.

 

Increasing the angle by 0.2° to 3.2 would mean aircraft are approximately 200ft higher at 10 miles out.

 

This potential benefit is not, at this time, considered significant enough to justify deviation from the international safety standard.  However, GAL are monitoring the situation and are open to trialling procedures as soon as technical limitations are overcome such that there is an opportunity for significant benefit whilst maintaining compliance with international safety standards.

Is this just Gatwick airport expansion by the backdoor?

No. These changes are intended to make the operation of Gatwick’s runway more efficient, reducing delay, fuel burn and emissions while managing noise more effectively for local communities.  Runway usage for a single runway operation such as at Gatwick requires arrivals and departures to be interleaved – reducing the gap between departures provides no additional benefit to periods when successive departures are naturally split by the need to land an arrival in between.

Based on current demand profiles we would expect this to mean around 2-5 more departures per hour only during periods of high departure demand when the number of departures significantly exceeds arrivals – this is generally in the morning rush only and so does not represent a significant increase in overall traffic.  Arrival rates are not altered by this airspace change as this is determined by existing separation minima and balanced by the demand of both arriving and departing traffic (an hour with less departure demand can see more arrivals handled on the single runway operation at Gatwick – as is the case today).

For more detail on the proposed changes at low altitudes around Gatwick see Part B.

Will this mean flights landing at Gatwick every minute?

No. The gap between arriving flights will remain as it is today.

k) London City (1)

Why are you not considering respite routes for London City?

Extra routes to provide respite may be seen to beneficial in some circumstances however they have the following potential disadvantages:

1. they spread noise over a larger area

2. additional routes for respite purposes may also be longer in which case there may be fuel and CO2 implications

3. They can also have operational implications: for flight systems (eg flight database capacity), for flight crew (in terms of familiarity), and for ATC (in terms of increased complexity) given these generic

Given these disbenefits, we do not consider respite routes a practical solution London City traffic flows above 4,000ft.  Specifically:

For arrivals the traffic volumes involved are relatively small and the arrival swathes is over the Thames Estuary as far as possible; additional routes would spread the impact and so make it less likely that the flight paths could be limited to airspace over the sea.

For London City departures, the route being addressed in this consultation is subject to a complex interaction with Heathrow arrivals.  Increasing the complexity with additional options for respite is not operationally desirable.  Furthermore the potential benefit is limited given that the route changes in question are above 4,000ft and the route is not particularly busy (on average 4 aircraft per hour).  For these reasons we have not considered respite an appropriate option for London City routes to the south above 4,000ft.