Vortex & ice fall

What is a vortex?

A vortex is a circulating current of air generated by planes. It can sometimes strike and damage the roofs of houses located under a flight path. Pitched roofs with loose-laid tiles may be prone to vortex damage.

Wake turbulence is a disturbance in the atmosphere that forms behind an aircraft as it passes through the air. It includes various components, the most important of which are wingtip vortices and jetwash:

  • Jetwash refers simply to the rapidly moving gases expelled from a jet engine.
  • Wingtip vortices, are spiralling cones of air generated by the wingtips as the aircraft flies through the air. The vortices can remain in the air for several minutes after the passage of an aircraft.

Closer to the ground, although aircraft travel much slower and the vortices dissipate quickly there are occasions when the vortex can reach the ground. The vortex can then damage roof tiles on properties under the flight path.

Who is responsible for damage?

The legal responsibility for damage caused by aircraft, including vortex damage and ice falls lies with the airline concerned, however, it is not always possible to identify which aircraft has been responsible for specific damage. In the interests of being a good neighbour, Gatwick Airport provides a response to house owners who report vortex damage, as part of our commitment to the local community.  

Who is covered by our policy? 

Every house, school, church or hospital affected by a vortex strike or ice fall is eligible for repair under this policy. This includes homes situated above commercial properties. The scheme does not cover damage to other property, such as cars, from roof tiles dislodged by a vortex or ice fall.

What should you do if you suspect vortex or ice damage?

Please contact us via our dedicated email address at: vortex.damage@gatwickairport.com

When you email us, please also include the following information:

  • The exact time the damage occurred and details of the aircraft concerned, if known. If you are not able to make such identification, please supply an approximate time.
  • The extent and nature of the damage (front, rear or side of property and what damage is visible? If it is possible, and safe to do so, photographs should also be supplied).

  • If you are the property owner, your name, address and telephone number. 
  • If you are not the property owner, the name, address and telephone number of the owner. 

  • Why you think vortex damage was responsible for the incident.

When we receive your email we will review the information and appoint a specialist contractor to inspect and report on your roof. We will liaise with the property owner to arrange this visit as soon as is possible.

More information: Vortex and ice fall policy