Report Heathrow Flight Trial Impacts

Council offers online system for feedback on BAA’s on-going Heathrow flight pattern test

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The ‘operational freedoms’ testing period, which runs until March 31 next year, aims to explore whether new procedures can be used to make Heathrow run more effectively without increasing the total number of planes landing or taking-off from the airport.

The trial was approved by the South East Airports Taskforce Group which was set up by the Government to explore ways of making airports 'better, not bigger'. The trials will be undertaken by BAA under the supervision of the Civil Aviation Authority.

Wandsworth Council is scrutinising the trial closely to ensure the noise impacts are properly considered before any of the test procedures are made permanent.

Council leader Ravi Govindia said:
“These trials affect our daytime respite periods when we would normally expect a break from overhead flights. We want to ensure the impact of these changes on local people are recorded and taken into account. If you have noticed changes in aircraft noise then please let us know.”

Visit to enter your feedback or contact BAA direct using freephone number 0800 344 844 or by emailing

Under the established rules Heathrow is only permitted to use one runway for take offs and one for landings. Their use is switched everyday at 3pm to give residents under the flightpath a regular break from overhead planes.

During the trial BAA is permitted to use both runways at the same time for arrivals when incoming flights face a delay of ten minutes or more. This can mean more flights landing over central London during half-day respite periods when Wandsworth residents would normally get an eight hour break from aircraft noise.

Aircraft are also being allowed to leave established departure routes sooner than normally permitted.

From November some early morning arrival flights will be moved back until after 5am - currently the first scheduled flights land at 4.30am. In exchange, more aircraft scheduled to arrive after 6am will be permitted to land between 5.30 and 6am. This would mean more flights between 5.30 - 6am, but less flights between 4.30 - 5am.

Cllr Govindia continues:
“The rules governing Heathrow flight operations are extremely complicated and BAA should be doing a lot more to engage with Londoners and to help them understand these important changes.

“What we need is a daily narrative from the airport telling people in plain English how these ‘operational freedoms’ have been used. Without this basic level of transparency it’s very difficult for local people to have any confidence in the testing process.”

September 7, 2012

September 7, 2012