Many local groups and committees are involved in discussions on the airport's operation
Groups we engage with
We play a key role in the economic, social and environmental development of the region. This means that many local groups and committees are involved in discussions on the airport's operation.
We engage with four key groups on airspace and noise matters:
- The Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee (GATCOM)
- The Noise and Track Monitoring Advisory Group (NATMAG) and its subgroup the Gatwick Noise Monitoring Group (GNMG)
- The Noise Management Board (NMB)
GATCOM is our statutory advisory body. It meets four times a year. It seeks to reach a common understanding of the nature and operation of the airport and its policies.
GATCOM meets four times a year. It considers issues related to the operation and development of London Gatwick and its effect on local communities, passengers, airlines and other airport users.Sub-committees also discuss specific topics.
The committee includes:
- Local councils
- Environmental groups
- Aviation industry
- Business leaders
- Passenger groups
NATMAG is joined by officials from Gatwick, the DfT, NATS, air traffic control, airlines, and local authorities. The group meets quarterly to monitor and discuss a wide range of issues, including:
- Track keeping performance
- Continuous descent operations
- Night engine testing
- Ground noise
- Noise complaints
GNMG is a sub-group of NATMAG. It involves delegates from Gatwick, Environmental Health Officers from local authorities, and the Independent Technical Advisor to GATCOM. They evaluate and discuss the data collected from noise monitors around Gatwick. The group also discusses potential locations for future noise monitors. The group's findings are given to NATMAG for ratification.
The NMB connects all stakeholders who manage and mitigate aircraft noise. Board membership comprises representatives from across the aviation industry, the DfT, elected public delegates, and local community noise action groups.
Gatwick’s Independent Arrivals Review was led by industry experts Bo Redeborn and Graham Lake. They were asked to provide an independent and professional analysis and report. As part of the review, Bo, Graham and their team engaged with organisations, individuals, Parish, Town and District County Councils and MPs. They also held three public meetings with local MPs and received feedback by email.
The report sets out 23 practical steps that could improve noise issues around Gatwick. The key recommendations from the review were:
- Reduce the number of aircraft holding over land.
- Improve the use of continuous descent arrivals. These would generate less noise and increase the sequencing and spacing of arrivals.
- Speed up the modification of Airbus A320 aircraft. This will reduce the whining noise they make during the approach phase of flight.
- Create an independently chaired Noise Management Board to oversee joint strategies to deal with noise around the airport.
- Develop a better online complaint management system.
We published a detailed Proposed Action Plan for putting in place the recommendations from the review. After the Proposed Action Plan was published, we released our Final Action Plan. This report reflected the feedback to the Arrivals Review and the Proposed Action Plan from communities and other stakeholders, as well as the results and conclusions of additional analysis.
Gatwick’s Implementation Report (IMM-20) provided an in-depth review of the activity and progress of the Final Action Plan after the first calendar year. A range of activities were carried out, including:
- Reduction of noise disturbance from aircraft using Gatwick
- Improved quality and transparency of information available
- Active engagement with aviation stakeholders
The following set out the NMB’s membership details:
The Chair, Secretary and Community Noise Group members of the NMB were appointed for a period of three years. The first term of their appointment came to an end in June 2019.
During the first three years of the NMB, there have been several key achievements:
A formal review of the NMB was suggested in April 2018. This was proposed to identify and agree on changes, so that they may be considered and put in place before the NMB's second term. This review was carried out by a committee of five NMB members.
The Review Committee considered the NMB's purpose, objectives, governance, structure, membership, balance, legitimacy, outcomes, leadership and administration. Findings and recommendations were published in November 2018. At the request of the Board, they then developed proposals for revised NMB governance.
Finalised governance proposals were given to NMB members at the end of April 2019. However, the May meeting of the Board was not able to reach a majority to allow the adoption of the Committee’s recommendations. The NMB's first term was closed, handing the decision on how to proceed for a second term to the NMB sponsor, GAL.
GAL later adopted the Review Committee’s finalised recommendations as the basis for launching the new NMB structure, using the proposed governance as the framework for the NMB.
The NMB review highlighted several ways to improve governance and the practicalities of transitioning to a second term.
The NMB Review Committee put forward changes to the NMB Terms of Reference to account for statutory consultation obligations for airspace matters, policy and escalation, and to introduce a vision and mission statement for the NMB.
The new NMB was constituted in early 2020. It comprises three groups:
- NMB Community Forum (NCF). Independent Chair: Warren Morgan
- NMB Executive Board (NEX). Independent Chair: Jonathan Drew
- tNMB Delivery Group (NDG). Chair and Secretary: Graham Lake.
This governance structure enables the inclusion of a greater number of community action groups and local elected representatives.
You can learn more about this in the Second Term NMB Terms of Reference.
Here you can find the agendas, minutes and other associated documents from the NMB meetings from 2016 onwards. They are listed by meeting date in reverse chronological order. All the documents are in PDF format.
The consolidated First Term Workplan was approved and adopted by the NMB in 2017. In total, 20 activities were identified in the work plan.
The Second Term Workplan was adopted by the NMB at the NEX meeting in March 2021. It contains 12 initiatives aimed at reducing noise from aircraft in and around Gatwick.
Certain flight configurations of the Airbus A320 family of aircraft are known to produce a high-pitched whine. This is caused by the Fuel Over Pressure Protector (FOPP) cavities under the wings. The whine is audible under the approach of these aircraft, normally between 7 and 15 nautical miles from touchdown. A change to the FOPP is available that removes this whine.
The Arrivals Review recommended that we engage with the DfT to propose to the European Commission the establishment of a sunset date of 31 December 2020, for the operation in Europe of Airbus 320 series aircraft without the FOPP cavity vortex generator noise modification.
We introduced a charging scheme on 1 January 2018. This applied to all unmodified A320 Airbus family aircraft arriving at the airport. In December 2019, 99% of flights by A320 family aircraft at Gatwick were operated by modified aircraft.
Sometimes arriving aircraft fly lower or make noticeably more noise than other similar aircraft. The aim of the RNN trial is to reduce the number of these aircraft, which are known as ‘outliers’. The RNN trial is a proposal to increase the height of low-flying aircraft so that the noise they make on the ground below is reduced. This trial will not enable any more aircraft to fly at night than is currently allowed and nobody will be newly overflown.
In line with CAA’s CAP1616 guidance, GAL submitted a Trial Submission Pack in September 2019. The pack set out details of:
- trial engagement
- industry consultation
- Instrument Flight Procedure (IFP) designs
- environmental and safety assessments
- trial procedures
- project timescales
This information is published on the CAA Portal.
What are the key details of the trial?
The project was initiated in 2017. Its aim is to verify how meaningful noise reductions can be achieved using Performance Based Navigation (PBN) technology for arriving aircraft during the night when noise sensitivity is high.
The trial will run each night for six months from 01:30 - 05:00 (local time). Mobile noise monitors will capture aircraft noise before and during the trial to assess noise performance.
These will be placed in locations under some of the RNN routes.
The trial was planned to start in March 2020. Following submission, Gatwick was informed by the CAA that a decision on the RNN Trial would be delayed. The uncertainty surrounding the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic means that this trial has been paused whilst Gatwick and its stakeholders adapt plans accordingly.
Will RNN lead to a concentration of flights?
PBN allows aircraft to fly accurate routes. When used for arrivals, PBN can allow the aircraft to be controlled so it descends more slowly, and in a quieter and more efficient way.
PBN routes are associated with more concentrated flight paths because the technology is more accurate than current approach procedures. To minimise the impacts of this, multiple trial routes have been designed to ensure the distribution of noise. The routes are all placed within existing arrival swathes.
There will be 16 published PBN arrival routes. This will allow for four arrival routes to each runway end (westerly and easterly) and both runways (southern and northern). For further information on Gatwick’s aircraft operations, please visit our noise portal.
Where are the trial routes?
he proposed trial routes are shown below. Arrival routes to the Southern runway are in yellow and to the Northern runway in blue. The “overflight cones” as defined by the CAA are shown in white.
Each arriving aircraft will use the most appropriate route to reach the runway based on the arrival direction, i.e., from the South East or West.
The trial routes have been designed to minimise concentration and disperse arrivals. No trial routes will be outside of the existing swathe. No new communities will be impacted by noise from this trial.
Detailed route maps are shown below using the same key: arrival routes to the Southern runway are in yellow and to the Northern runway in blue.
Why didn't you take the opportunity to try new routes away from the existing ones?
At night, aircraft join the Gatwick Instrument Landing System (ILS) no closer than 10 nautical miles from touchdown. This is specified by the DfT. Some residents have asked why the trial doesn’t try a different ILS joining point to move aircraft away from Tunbridge Wells on westerly approaches.
The RNN trial is about reducing the number of ‘outlier’ noise events by increasing aircraft altitude within the existing swathe of arrivals traffic so that they make less noise on the ground. If the trial overflies new areas, we will not be able to validate the ‘before’ and ‘after’ effect of the routes.
Changes to routes or the night-time joining point would also require Gatwick to develop a full Airspace Change Proposal as set out in the CAA document CAP1616.
See here for further information on Gatwick’s aircraft operations.
Why can't the benefits of PBN be assessed through computer simulation?
Noise models can be used to predict the noise impact of aircraft. However, these are not considered accurate beyond about 12 NM (Nautical Miles, around 22 km) from an aircraft’s touchdown. The trial procedures are expected to have a positive noise impact in the region of 10-20 NM from touchdown, which is beyond this range.
The trial will allow data to be recorded on mobile noise monitors placed around the airport, and up to around 18 NM away from the airport. Noise from aircraft before and during the trial will be recorded and analysed.
Why is the trial taking place at night?
Airline and Air Traffic Control (ATC) procedures are best trialled when the airport is less busy. Traffic volumes are low at night, making the procedure easier to manage. Ambient noise is also reduced, which allows the noise from quieter aircraft to be measured further away from the airport.
The trial will not identify routes for use in future airspace design. It also won't be used to provide evidence for a revised night flight regime.
Under what circumstances will the trial be suspended?
The trial may be suspended for operational reasons. These include unexpectedly high levels of traffic or the need for weather avoidance. In this case, ATC will revert to their usual procedures.
The trial may also be suspended if the analysis of initial results suggests it might not have achieved the benefits expected.
Please see the Trial Submission Pack on the CAA website. This contains technical information on the noise analysis undertaken for this trial as well as procedures for suspending the trial.
How many flights will be involved in the trial?
When the trial was planned, it was thought that nightly average flights would follow a similar pattern to 2019. This pattern ranged from about two arrivals in low-traffic months to 24 in high-traffic months. The following table shows the averages from Jan 2017 – Aug 2019, and the maximums identified in those months. The number of flights in 2020 was affected by the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
What factors will affect the number of arrivals participating in the trial?
The traffic figures presented as part of the analysis for the trial reflect growth in air traffic since 2017 and the impact of seasonal variations on the number of night arrivals at the airport. On average, the number of night arrivals is higher in summer than in winter months.
Monthly figures can be skewed by events like industry strikes or weather. In these cases, scheduled daytime arrivals typically fall into the night because of disruption. This is reflected in the RNN analysis. In July and August 2019, poor weather led to significant delays across several days. There were four nights with greater than 30 flights, all of which fell on days with bad weather.
On any night with high volumes of arrivals, NATS will temporarily suspend the trial and return to vectoring procedures. The trial would resume once traffic levels came down to a manageable level.
Who approves the trial?
The trial will be approved by the CAA. It is being prepared according to the CAA requirements for trials described in CAP1616.
How will stakeholders be engaged?
Gatwick has engaged with representatives of industry and local communities from the NMB, Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee, Flight Operations & Performance Safety Committee and NATMAG while developing the trial. This will continue up to, during and after the trial.
How can I complain during the trial?
Complaints can be made online, by a mobile app, by phone or by post throughout the trial period. Any noise complaints submitted directly to the CAA through its Airspace Change Portal will be redirected by the CAA to GAL for review.
There will be no limit to the number of complaints and enquiries that can be submitted by an individual or an organisation during the trial period. All complaints and enquiries will be handled in accordance with GAL’s complaints handling policy.
We will continue to update these groups as to the progress of the trial, as well as publishing information on our website.
What are the next steps from September 2019 to the start of the trial?
We are required to follow CAA guidance (CAP1616) for conducting an airspace trial and the CAA must approve the trial. CAP1616 requires Gatwick to prepare a trial submission pack that describes the trial plans and supporting analysis. This was submitted at the end of September 2019 for the CAA’s review.
Once the trial is resumed, the CAA will publish its review on their website. If approval is given, Gatwick will engage with local communities to communicate the trial start and process. Please read the Trial Submission Pack for further details..
What will happen after the trial?
Aircraft will go back to flying their current arrival routes. The evidence from the trial will be examined and outcomes will be reported to the industry and community.
The trial will not be used to identify new routes for future airspace design or increase capacity. Nor will the trial be used to introduce airspace change without consultation.
The new low noise arrival metric (LNAM) was defined in 2019.
In 2017, the NMB established a national cross-industry project to develop this metric. It aimed to complement the current CDA definition and the efficacy of the CDA procedure in reducing noise. It also provided an extra performance target for Gatwick that could also be used at other airports.
The new metric will allow arrivals to be measured and benchmarked against an optimum low-noise approach. This Future Airspace Strategy (FAS) sponsored initiative has been progressed at the request of the NMB and on behalf of GAL by the CAA’s Environmental Research Consultancy Department and NATS.
A review of departure noise limits and associated fines was done in 2019. The review proposed new noise limits and/or fine regimes to encourage aircraft to be flown more quietly. It provided an extra financial incentive to airlines to use quieter aircraft types at Gatwick.
The results of the review were shared with the DfT to inform future proposals to amend the current regime. The next steps following the conclusion of the Review will be taken forward in consultation with the NMB and DfT.
This is designed to encourage airlines to reduce their noise impact by improving their operation and aircraft fleets. It evaluates noise performance, engages with selected airlines to discuss performance, and reports the results publicly.
Gatwick developed a Performance Table model in 2018 that was finalised in 2019. The model then underwent model refinement, validation and testing and further airline engagement took place. The Table now features in the Airspace Office’s Quarterly Reports from Q4 2020. These are available on the Noise Reports page of our website.
In May 2019, the NMB concluded that it is unlikely there would be a significant noise benefit from the standardisation of one or other NADP procedures at Gatwick. NADP2 is currently used by about 90% of departures at Gatwick. The choice of NADP1 vs NADP2 redistributes noise resulting in an increase and decrease for different communities.
A detailed review of departure profiles was done in 2019. It revealed that most actual vertical climb profiles were outperforming the designed climb profiles because of routine air traffic controller intervention.
However, a few vertical profile design changes could be applied to enhance climb performance. These would still need to go through the airspace change process. More significant (lateral and vertical) changes to the Gatwick departure routes would be carried out through our work on airspace modernisation.