Common misconceptions about noise at Gatwick


We've put together a list of myth busters around noise at the airport.

Planes fly lower than they used to

There are now bigger planes such as the Airbus A380 which can appear lower to people on the ground. Planes landing at Gatwick come in on a 3 degree angle of approach and this hasn’t changed. The combination of altitude and temperature can sometimes affect the performance of planes as they take off; for example, hot weather can affect a plane’s ability to climb as quickly as normal.

Pilots fly where they want

The whole of an aircraft’s flight path is carefully managed by Air Traffic Control to ensure safety. Departing aircraft are given an initial flight path within a Noise Preferential Route (NPR), which should be followed up to an altitude of 4000ft, before being given a more direct heading off the route.

Flight paths have changed

Current flight paths (known as Noise Preferential Routes or NPRs) were established by the government in 1968 and have not changed since. However, it is planned that UK airspace is to be modernised over the next few years, which may mean changes to flight paths. Gatwick Airport is the first UK airport to implement a more modern form of aircraft navigation called P-RNAV (Precision Route Navigation) on all of our departure routes. Instead of a wide spread of aircraft tracks, the introduction of P-RNAV has the effect of concentrating flight tracks into narrower corridors.

Planes are not allowed to fly at night

Gatwick has always been a 24 hour operation and has never been subject to a night flight ban. However there are strict Department for Transport regulations regarding the number of flights and type of aircraft that are permitted to operate. The next review of the regulations is set for 2017.

Noise has got worse at Gatwick

While the number of planes has increased, the planes that are flying now are significantly quieter than the previous generation of aircraft that they replace. Consequently, whilst activity has increased, the noise footprint of Gatwick has actually shrunk.

Casper does not accurately track aircraft

Casper is our Noise and Track Keeping system and takes a direct data feed from Air Traffic Control, derived from radar signals returned from aircraft in the air; the tracks shown are therefore an accurate representation of the routes actually flown.

More people have planes flying over them than before

The Civil Aviation Authority has conducted an assessment of the areas overflown by aircraft since the introduction of P-RNAV on our departure routes. This analysis has shown that there has been a 21% reduction of the number of people directly overflown up to an altitude of 4000ft (with the exception of Route 4).

Gatwick Airport ignores template complaints

The Flight Performance Team will record one complaint per person, per day, regardless of their format. Template complaints such as those used by campaign groups around the airport will be recorded in line with the complaints handling policy. Complaints logged directly with in Casper, our noise and track keeping facility, are counted individually.

Gatwick Airport does not care about the air quality around the airport

Gatwick Airport is committed to reducing our carbon emissions by 50% and maintaining our current zero breaches of air quality limits through to 2020.