A trial of new Westerly Departure Routes from Heathrow starts on 25th August and finishes on 26th January 2015. We understand that the aim of these trials is to reduce the intervals between take-offs by using more departure routes and using routes which diverge more significantly from each other than the currently approved routes. Heathrow would then be able to have more departures while still meeting the legally stipulated safety criteria for separation between aircraft.
There are 6 new routes, 4 of which will track over Ascot, Sunningdale, Sunninghill and Bracknell compared with 1 which currently tracks to the east of Sunningdale. One of the new routes tracks south west over Cheapside, another tracks west of the racecourse at which point it turns south, and the third tracks south west over Sunningdale to Lightwater before turning south. The fourth route tracks south west over Bracknell town centre. By the time aircraft are in our area they will be at 3,000 feet or higher. There is no information about the frequency of departures on these routes.
According to Ascot News (20/08/14) a Heathrow spokeswoman said “It is all part of the airspace modernisation strategy which has not been upgraded for 40 years”. The same paper quotes a NATS Holdings spokeswoman as saying “Basically it is upgrading technology and streamlining old designs”. It is hard to believe that anything has remained unchanged for 40 years, where air travel is concerned!!! The problem of aircraft queuing for take-off is certainly many years old, so why only instigate this test now?
The test period, in the quieter months of the year may be the best period from the point of view of causing least disruption on account of any teething problems, but it will not give a true indication of noise nuisance for the busy summer period.
At present, it is understood that the burden of noise is shared around the affected areas, by changing flight paths during each day or every few days. If more flight paths are to be used routinely, the scope for such sharing will be curtailed.
If a third runway were to be built at Heathrow, the extra flight paths which are the subject of the proposed test would be needed permanently since, although an extra runway would allow more aircraft to take-off, with less delays on the ground, once in the air they have to be distributed. There would be more flights and a more dense use of all flight paths.
Finally, it should be noted that in the next few months or in a year or two a decision will be made regarding the siting of any new airport capacity in the UK.
The proposed test of more flight paths could be taking place at this time as part of Heathrow’s attempt to persuade the government that it should be chosen for that capacity.
Aircraft noise is relevant to the protection of our environment. There are specialist groups who concentrate on aviation matters so we suggest that any members or residents who wish to comment should contact specialist and accountable bodies such as:
+ Bracknell Forest Council as they are members of LAANC and will pass on comments;
+ HACAN ClearSkies [Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise] at www.hacan.org.uk;
+ Heathrow Airport at www.heathrowairport.com/noise
and copy SPAE (Society for the Protection of Ascot and Environs) – email@example.com– on any communication.
Also look at:
where there is information on Stakeholder engagement and feedback and you may contact their Community Relations team on 0800 344844 if you wish to discuss the details of the trial.
The Civil Aviation Authority provide guidance on the Airspace Change Process (see link below):