Low flights in and out of Heathrow cause extra noise

Planes coming in and out of Heathrow fly at varying heights at the same geographical position. BA, the biggest user, flies aircraft considerably lower than many other airlines. This causes life changing extra noise for residents underneath. The difference in noise under departing planes could be as much as 15 decibels according to the results from xPlane and the noise table provided by NATS.

Low flying around Heathrow is something on which we have been trying to get Heathrow to take action for over 6 years now. We wrote about this back in June 2016

Heathrow does not operate an ICAO noise abatement procedure for departures set out in the ICAO guidance. Notwithstanding, the Aeronautical Information Publication provides that aircraft shall at all times be operated in a manner which is calculated to cause the least disturbance practicable in areas surrounding the aerodrome. This is not being followed to the considerable detriment of communities surrounding Heathrow (which includes areas at least 20 miles away). The communities consider that operating the ICAO NADP1 procedure in accordance with ICAO guidance up to 4,500’ on departure and continuous descents upon arrival would a give very substantial noise reduction, and wish for these measures to be introduced at the earliest opportunity.

For those under arrivals flight paths, heights are considerably lower than stated by Heathrow – again causing more noise and suffering than is necessary.

The communities surrounding Heathrow have had the benefit of advice given to them by aviation experts To70. Unfortunately just after publication of their departure profile report, their funding was withdrawn by Heathrow. It is vital that the communities surrounding Heathrow have access to independent expert advice on the effects of aircraft operations. If Heathrow is truly going to build back better (as it said that it intended to – see this link), then it has got to adopt proper noise abatement procedures and exert some discipline on its customers, mainly BA which is one of the worst offenders for low flying.

Our investigations and findings are available for viewing and download by clicking HERE 

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  1. Mary
    28th May 2023

    In Twickenham we have been tormented by easterly operations for weeks and weeks. It is horrible. Noone should be expected to endure such unrelenting torturous noise and pollution . I say this as a resident here for 25 years. It never used to be this bad. I believe it all changed in 2015 when trials were introduced and it has been horrific since then.
    Personally I believe an enough is enough approach is called for. It’s very interesting and informative to read the various reports.However if the powers that be are so blatantly disregarding laid down regulations isn’t it tine for a full on protest which might get them listening.

  2. R. Anderson
    14th September 2022

    I live in Hampton, since 2007, and have found the low-flying, frequent and very noisy planes on easterlies VERY annoying! I have frequently complained to the 0800344844 number though these people only can log a complaint, which is useless and poinless. as very little they can do about it, so what’s the point in these people on that number?!
    Tried to contact C.A.A.,no response, from my e-mail and phone some time ago, no answer?
    I managed to get get in touch with the dft some time ago and got a response, they always defer to some other body!
    So who is responsible for the obfuscation of the aircraft noise problem which still persists to this day, the airport itself Heathrow?
    Aircraft noise from Heathrow needs to be made a statuary nuisance in Noise Act of 1996.

  3. John Reader
    13th September 2022

    The fear of COVID was a blight on our life’s for Two years, the only saving grace was the silence of airplane noise from Heathrow and now they feel it’s over. It’s back to business,!! with scant regard for any one feelings, it’s so utterly pointless complaining, for Heathrow has always treated us as irritation in there expansion of capital. They are flying lower, since 2018 most airlines lease the engines and aircraft, so on take off the quicker they get to cruising altitude and less noise for more residents the cost of maintenance goes up. It’s all about profit.

  4. Lorne Campbell
    27th August 2022

    Can people in Teddington get double glazing paid for as a result of planes now flying over head every 2 minutes?

    • 2nd September 2022

      Thank you for your comment. Heathrow’s insulation schemes have been withdrawn according to their website but are being reviewed. Details are at https://www.heathrow.com/company/local-community/noise/what-you-can-do/apply-for-help/noise-insulation-schemes . We doubt that anyone in Teddington/Twickenham will be eligible.
      We have found that part of the problem is that in Teddington noise readings, when using the infamous LAeq noise metric, are not that high because of the noise averaging that is used. You can have a number of enormous noise events but when they are averaged out over the year, they do not come that high. It is a fraud really and the Parliamentary Transport Committee recommended that there should be a suite of noise metrics to get a fair and accurate noise measurement. To date neither Heathrow nor the Department of Transport nor the CAA have seen fit to follow that recommendation

  5. Alastair Rosenschein
    15th July 2022

    You have falsely claimed that I am a BA representative. I would appreciate that you correct your above message.

  6. 9th July 2022

    Thank you for your efforts to combat this ridiculous abuse by the airport and airline for profit. We had a terrible week recently and could not sit in the garden or even hear the phone or tv/radio inside with windows shut. and sleep was disturbed too. With the hot weather and climate change it will be harder to shut windows and doors to mitigate the noise so I hope you get somewhere with your campaign.

  7. Alastair Rosenschein
    25th June 2022

    I write this as a recently retired British Airways Boeing 747-400 pilot. I fully understand the disturbance and negative health impacts of noise and air pollution from aircraft operations in and out of Heathrow. However, the above article cannot be left unchallenged. It is palpable nonsense to state that BA operates its aircraft lower than other airlines or that it does so deliberately or without regard to legally binding or safe departure and arrival procedures. All BA aircraft are operated strictly according to the manufacturers mandated procedures which guarantee their safety. Furthermore, the airline strictly enforces adherence to the published noise abatement procedures at every airport including Heathrow as it is both in the interests of the airline and residents living and working under the flight paths.
    There are a number of organisations, groups and people opposed to Heathrow expansion and to its current operations and I must count myself as one of them, However articles like the one above make it easy for the industry and government simply to brush these concerns aside when presented with such amateurish misinformation and quite frankly total twaddle..

    • 26th June 2022

      Thank you for your comment. We do appreciate your engaging with us – indeed you are the first BA representative to comment on this predicament. In response we say that you might like to look at this again. It may be that you did not click on the stated link at the end of the resumee which takes you to the full article with figures and details.
      Firstly: we have never said that BA fails to observe manufacturers’ recommendations or that BA compromises safety. We do accuse BA of flying lower than many other airlines and causing quite unnecessary suffering to residents on the ground. Unless you live under a flight path (which you may do), you will perhaps not appreciate the agony and suffering that your activities brought upon others, much of which is unnecessary. We do know this from first-hand experience.
      Secondly: contrary to what you say Heathrow do not operate an ICAO recommended noise abatement procedure – if they did the article would not have been necessary
      Thirdly: we have produced in the article data showing the difference in height between the various flights and airlines – and we are not just comparing short haul against long haul. BA are consistently one of the lowest flights – and, of course, BA are by far the most numerous.
      Fourthly: The ICAO recommend a particular type of noise abatement procedure for particular situations (there are two). BA do not operate the recommended one at Heathrow.
      Fifthly: the report and diagrams from To70, an established and respected company of aviation consultants, shows the dramatic reduction in noise received on the ground that can be brought about by observing the ICAO recommended guidance and even more by holding the flaps down to 4,500’ on departure.

      We therefore invite you to reconsider the article and your response to it.

  8. Neil Hope
    24th July 2021

    Thankyou all for your time and effort . As residents the endless barrage of noise and its effect has completely changed our quality of life here in Teddington. Breaking the law doesn’t seen to matter to these guys

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