Route 4 is a departure route for aircraft taking off from London Gatwick toward the west. Soon after take-off, aircraft wrap 180 degrees round to the right and head east, flying close to areas of South Holmwood, Leigh, Redhill and Reigate.

UK airport redesigning departure routes

London Gatwick – and all other UK airports – have redesigned, or are in the process of redesigning, their departure routes so that aircraft can use new satellite-based navigation technology.

In 2013, we sought the CAA's approval to implement changes to all nine of our departure routes – including Route 4. These changes were approved by the CAA in August 2013, following our airspace consultation.

CAA review of departure routes

After approving new route designs, and after the routes have been flown for a while, the CAA performs a Post Implementation Review.

In 2015, the CAA reviewed all nine of our redesigned departure routes and approved the majority. However, they found that Route 4 had not delivered the aim of the airspace change and required that it be modified. Minor changes were also required to two other departure routes.

Following the CAA’s finding on the redesigned Route 4, we submitted an amended Route 4 proposal, and the CAA ratified this in April 2017.

Legal challenge

A community group sought a judicial review that challenged the CAA’s Post Implementation Review decision to ratify the revised Route 4 departure route. 

Following investigations as a result of the Judicial Review, in January 2018 the CAA asked the court to quash their previous decision.

Present day

Following this decision, we removed our proposed Route 4 satellite-based departure and reverted to the historic route.

Airlines continue to fly the legacy design Route 4 departure routes but with the track over the ground guided by bespoke route coding used by each airline. As acknowledged by the CAA, this means it is not possible to predict the variations in flight paths that may result. 

These variations are likely to continue until new Route 4 satellite-based departure routes, being considered under the current 2018 Airspace Change Programme, are approved by the CAA and then implemented. We will consult extensively as part of the airspace change process so communities will have the opportunity to contribute and influence the final outcome.

Read more on why the CAA reversed their original decision and see updates on the process since then.