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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please find answers below to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about this consultation.

When will this consultation be held?

This consultation will take place from 8th January – 4th March 2019. 

What is the consultation about?

The Airspace & Future Operations consultation is asking for feedback on Heathrow’s proposals on three key areas.

Airspace change for an expanded Heathrow: how we design our future airspace and the local factors we should consider in different geographic areas when designing future flight paths.

Airspace change to make better use of our existing two runways: the local factors we should consider in different geographic areas when designing new arrivals flight paths when making a change to the way some aircraft arrive at the airport.

Future operations for an expanded Heathrow: how we will operate our three runways in the future, this includes managing noise; respite through runway and airspace alternation; directional preference and night flights.

How can I find out more about this consultation?

For an overview of this consultation, click here to watch a video featuring Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s Executive Director for Expansion giving you a summary of the two consultations Heathrow is holding in 2019.

To understand how changes may affect your area, click here to use our postcode checker, and here  to view all the documents available for this consultation.

If you have any further questions regarding the consultation, then please get in touch by emailing [email protected], or visit one of our events where teams will be on hand to answer your questions.

Is this your only consultation this year?

No – in June 2019 we will launch our Airport Expansion Consultation. In this consultation, we will be asking for feedback on our preferred masterplan, including the new runway and associated physical infrastructure for expansion. We are also exploring options that will help us mitigate and manage the effects of the airport’s growth, and will be seeking your views on this. We will tell you more about this consultation in the spring.

Where are the consultation events?

Throughout the Airspace and Future Operations Consultation period we will be holding open consultation events where people will be able to learn about our plans, ask questions, and provide us with their feedback. Details of the dates, times and locations of all consultation events are available at https://afo.heathrowconsultation.com/

How does this relate to your consultation on airspace in early 2018?

In our previous public consultation (January – March 2018), which included our Stage 1 airspace consultation for expansion, we asked you about some of the key design principles or ‘rules’ that we could use for the design of future flightpaths around an expanded Heathrow.

Following your feedback from this consultation and further engagement on the airspace design principles, our chosen principles were submitted to our regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and were approved in September 2018.

As part of the Airspace and Future Operations Consultation running from January-March 2019, we are looking at the broad geographic areas – known as design envelopes – within which future flight paths could be positioned.

Following this consultation, the airspace design principles will be applied within the envelopes when designing and evaluating flight path options. For the third and final stage of consultation, we will be presenting final flight path options and full analysis of each route. We expect this consultation to take place in 2022.

Is this just about your airspace for expansion?

No.  As well as designing our airspace and future operations for expansion, we will also be looking at how we make better use of our existing two runways, regardless of expansion. This is through the introduction of Independent Parallel Approaches (IPA), an arrivals procedure which will enable us to land our arriving aircraft more efficiently on our existing two runways, until the new runway is operational.

In this Consultation we are presenting the geographic areas, known as “design envelopes”, within which the IPA flight paths could be positioned.  We will ask what local factors should be taken into account when developing new flight paths within these geographically defined areas.

There is more information on IPA in the Documents & Resources section of this website.

Why can’t we see future flight paths for expansion?

This is the second of three stages of consultation to help us determine options for the final flight paths for an expanded Heathrow. We will have more detail to share at each stage of consultation and will also take into account your feedback along the way. For the third and final stage of consultation, we will be presenting final flight path options and full analysis of each route. We expect this consultation to take place in 2022.

This phased consultation approach is designed to give you a number of opportunities to provide your views throughout the design process and help shape the options from the outset.

Who makes the decision on where the final flight paths will be?

Following the final consultation on changes to airspace for expansion, we will finalise our proposed new airspace design and submit it to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) who will decide whether to approve the changes.

The CAA will consider a range of factors including safety, security, operational and environmental impacts. For certain types of airspace change, where there is a national interest or a significant environmental impact the Secretary of State may decide to intervene and to make the decision instead of the CAA. This is known as a “call in”.  The Secretary of State will refer to certain criteria to determine whether or not to call in.

How can I respond?

Your feedback is very important, and we have used a range of methods to inform people about this consultation. The consultation is now open and you are able to submit your feedback. The deadline for responding to the consultation is 11.55pm on 4th March 2019. You can provide us with your comments and views in a number of ways:

  • Via our Online questionnaire [LINK] – that includes a basic overview of each topic alongside the questions;
  • Via a paper feedback form – available at our events, to print from our Documents section, or on request through the contact details on this website;
  • Via email – you can send your feedback to [email protected]

All feedback received through these channels will be considered. While all the feedback we receive will be recorded, we will be unable to respond to you individually.

If you have any queries, you can contact [email protected] or call our community phone line on 0800 307 7996.

We may be required to make copies of responses to the consultation available to the Secretary of State and/or the Civil Aviation Authority. We will, however, request that personal details are not placed on the public record. Personal details will be held securely in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations 2018 and will be used solely in connection with the consultation process and the development of this Project and, except as noted above, will not be disclosed to any third parties

How can I find out information about flights today in my area?

The design envelopes presented in this consultation show the geographical area of where it is possible to locate future flight paths – therefore they are only used as part of our design process for future changes.

You can see how areas are currently overflown using our online flight tracking and analysis tools available here: https://www.heathrow.com/noise/what-you-can-do/track-flights-on-maps