Runway resurfacing alters night-time flight patterns
Runway resurfacing is an essential maintenance task that comes round roughly once every decade. Last year we resurfaced the southern runway. During 2014, we'll be resurfacing the northern runway. Because Heathrow is so busy, this work needs to takes place at night.
That will mean changes to the pattern of night-time flights. From 23rd March to 31st October, most aircraft flying after 10.30pm and before 6am will use the southern runway.
Since Heathrow has relatively few night flights, the changes won't affect many aircraft – mostly arrivals after 4.30am. There will be no additional night flights.
What does this mean for you?
- If you live under the flight path for the southern runway, you'll experience more night-time aircraft noise than usual
- If you live under the flight path for the northern runway, you'll experience less
Key areas affected in 2014
- To the east: Hatton; Hounslow; Isleworth; East Sheen; Richmond; and Putney.
- To the west: Stanwell Moor; Wraysbury; and Old Windsor.
The switch in noise levels occurs because we normally use both the runways equally during the night period, as laid out in the night runway alternation schedule. The schedule is designed to provide residents living under the approach paths to Heathrow with three weeks out of four without aircraft noise. This is done by designating a different runway each fortnight and operating that runway in a different direction (westerly or easterly) on alternate weeks. However this process is dependent on wind direction, which means although we strive to provide relief from noise as set out in the night schedule, it may not always be possible to do so.
This is what's happening to night-time runway alternation during the seven months of resurfacing:
- For five nights a week from Sunday evening to Friday morning all flights will use the southern runway between 10.30pm and 6am.
- For two nights a week from Friday evening to Sunday morning runway alternation will operate as normal: southern runway one week, northern the next week.
- Daytime flights are not affected.
Night-time flight paths during 2014 runway resurfacing
1. When wind blows from the west
- Arriving aircraft fly in from the direction of London (red line on the map)
- Departing aircraft take off towards the west (green lines on the map)
- Areas affected: Hounslow; Isleworth; East Sheen; Richmond; and Putney
Westerly operations during runway resurfacing (523 KB PDF)
2. When wind blows from the east
- Arriving aircraft fly in from the direction of Windsor (red line on the map)
- Departing aircraft take off towards the east (green lines on the map)
- Areas affected: Stanwell Moor; Wraysbury; and Old Windsor
Easterly operations during runway resurfacing (496 KB PDF)
Runway alternation helps us manage aircraft noise for the good of the entire community. Suspending night-time alternation for a full eight months is not ideal, but it is unavoidable. To those of our neighbours who are likely to experience more noise than usual, we'd like to apologise.