Frequently asked questions on aircraft noise

How will I be disturbed by aircraft noise?

To check this we need your full current or intended postal address. Once we have this we will check the noise and track keeping system to see if and how you are affected by our operations. We will send an information pack which includes maps of a typical day’s aircraft tracks as well as more specific maps which show your location in relation to this.

Isn’t it against the law to fly at night?

There has never been a night ban at Gatwick. All the aircraft using Gatwick Airport during the night are operated in accordance with the night restrictions set by the Department for Transport (DfT). The DfT imposes restrictions on night flights to preserve a balance between the need to protect local communities from excessive noise and the operation of services where they provide economic benefit. The decision to allow night flights, therefore, is a policy matter for the Government.

What are the noise restrictions for night flights?

The most recent restrictions were introduced in October 2006 and consist of:

  • a maximum number of flights during each season (11,200 in summer and 3,250 in winter) between 23:30 and 06:00
  • a supplementary quota system to encourage the use of quieter aircraft. Aircraft types are given a Quota Count (QC) value, according to how much noise they make on landing and take-off. These are: QC 0.25, QC0.5, QC1, QC2, QC4, QC8 and QC16, which is the noisiest category. Aircraft movements score QC values against a maximum allowable quota for each season (6,700 for summer and 2,300 for winter) between 23:30 and 06:00, ‘the night quota period’
  • aircraft of QC4 cannot be scheduled to operate between 23:30 and 06:00
  • aircraft of QC16 and QC8 cannot be scheduled to operate between 23:00 and 07:00.

Why are you flying over me (easterly or westerly) when there is no wind?

ATC is responsible for deciding the direction of operation and makes its decision based upon a number of factors including: the current prevailing wind speed and direction here at the airfield both on the ground and in the air (what is happening at 1000ft and 2000ft above ground is also very important), the forecast for the next 4 to 6 hours, and information from pilots. The position is kept under review and any changes made in the light of all relevant factors at the time. The weather forecast made by the Met Office is not a reliable indicator for what is happening at Gatwick since the Met Office forecast to the public is general and relates to ground level.

Have the flightpaths been changed – I’ve never noticed aircraft over here before?

There has been no change in policies relating to how Gatwick operates, including how ATC directs aircraft, nor in the position of the noise preferential routes, the stacks where arriving aircraft ‘queue’ while waiting to join the Instrument Landing System (ILS) or the position of the ILS radio beams which aircraft use to bring them into land on the last stage of their journey. These routes have been in place for over 30 years.

Can I get compensation for noise disturbance?

Aircraft noise is specifically exempted from the controls in general environmental protection legislation because it is already controlled by civil aviation legislation. The Civil Aviation Act 1982 provides that no action shall lie in respect of trespass or in respect of nuisance, by reason only of the flight of an aircraft over any property so long as the provisions of the legislation and any relevant Air Navigation Orders have been complied with.

What’s the point of complaining/what happens to the complaints?

Every complaint received by the Flight Performance Team (FPT) is registered and investigated, and responded to if requested. A specialised complaint handling service is used, combining a database, mapping system and flight and noise records from the Noise and Track Keeping system.

We understand the importance of regular consultation with local people on noise issues, so noise complaints are raised and discussed on a regular basis at our Noise and Tracking Monitoring Advisory Group (NaTMAG) and GATCOM. NaTMAG includes local community, airline, air traffic control, Gatwick and the Department for Transport (DfT) representation and GATCOM is made up of representatives from local government, airport users, business groups, environmental groups and other interested parties.

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Where can I get more information?

There are a number of explanatory leaflets available on this website. Click on the noise in your area section to view these. Alternatively if you would like to contact the FPT you can reach us at noise.line@gatwickairport.com or leave a message on 0800 393 070.

WebTrak FAQs

What information is shown?

Information on aircraft arriving at or departing from Gatwick Airport , including the flight number, aircraft type, its height and track.

Where do you get the information from?

The data is taken from NATS radar and then fed into the airport’s noise and track keeping (NTK) system. Flight data is processed for public display and is intended to show the general location and flow of flights.

Can you provide information on aircraft that didn’t land at or depart from Gatwick?

No. WebTrak can only show Gatwick flights, though you may occasionally see an orange aircraft icon, which is an overflight – this is a flight captured by radar that isn’t a Gatwick flight.

What are the green and red aircraft icons?

The red icons are arrivals and the green aircraft are departures.

How up to date is the information shown?

To maintain aviation security and to ensure accurate data has been processed, there is a minimum 24-hour to 48 hour delay to the flights you can view. This is enforced by the DfT.

I have a question about a specific aircraft – who do I contact?

If you have any questions or feedback please use our enquiry form and we'll be in touch as soon as we can.

What is the definition of height and altitude?

An aircraft’s altitude is its elevation above mean sea level. Height is the elevation above a specific ground reference point, in this case the airfield. The industry-recognised height above mean sea level for the Gatwick area is 202ft. All heights quoted in WebTrak are above shown above airfield level. Therefore if you wish to know an aircraft’s actual altitude above your area you will need to add 202ft to the quoted height. For example if an aircraft is shown as being at 2800ft, the actual altitude is 3002ft, (2800ft + 202ft = 3002ft).

Why do some aircraft appear to fly so much lower than others?

It is quite normal for aircraft to operate at a range of heights. It is important to stress that aircraft vary considerably in size and larger aircraft do often appear to be operating lower than others. WebTrak will give a very good idea of how high aircraft are in any particular area. If you take a look at our typical flight routings you can see where aircraft concentrate and their usual altitudes.

I have noticed that some aircraft just appear or disappear on the WebTrak display, why is this?

WebTrak shows aircraft that are flying below 10,000ft. As a result the display will first show aircraft when they descend below this altitude, and conversely, when aircraft are climbing, WebTrak will no longer display their track once they climb above 10,000ft.

How do I know if the aircraft that I have seen was on the right flight path and flying at the correct height?

ATC is in constant contact with all aircraft, and they define their route and heights. WebTrak does not show noise preferential routes (flight paths), therefore, if you feel an aircraft is flying where it should not be, make an enquiry with our flight performance team.

How can I find out specific details of how flights operate?

Call the FPT on 0800 393 070 or send an enquiry to noise.line@gatwickairport.com