Meeting with the Civil Aviation Authority

Our Chair, John Stewart and Campaign Co-Ordinator Rob Barnstone met with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Wednesday [15 June] to discuss the concentrated flight paths at London City Airport.

The CAA fielded at team of five and gave us nearly 2 hours.

They are aware of the unhappiness amongst communities and local authorities at their decision to allow City Airport to concentrate its flight paths in February 2016.

They listened to what we had to say.


We outlined the problems:

Things had changed noticeably for many communities in East and NE London. City Airport had argued that they could get away with minimal consultation because the changes they were making were not significant as many of the planes were already flying something approaching concentrated routes.  We pointed out that many people had noticed a real difference since February. 

We also pointed out that the CAA seemed to have no mechanism to look at changes over time.  The only reason City Airport could even begin to argue during the consultation that some of the changes proposed were not significant (for example, departures over Leyton, Leytonstone and Wansted areas) was because “significant changes” had been made in 2008 when the flight paths were changed to accommodate the larger planes which needed to make a much wider turn when leaving the airport.  The smaller ‘turbo-prop’ planes made a sharp turn when taking off, barely flying over many of the areas that now are under a concentrated flight path.  The CAA seemed to accept our point that there was no organisation responsible for assessing the changes over time.


This map shows the current concentrated flight paths across north-east London

This map shows the current concentrated flight paths across north-east London

We also outlined what the February changes meant for South London.  City aircraft fly over South London when an east wind is blowing before turning over the West End and City to land at the airport.  Until February they were dispersed pretty widely over South London but now they are concentrated over particular communities.  Most of these communities are overflown by Heathrow planes on the days there is a west wind.  They now get concentrated City aircraft when there is an east wind, thus no break from aircraft noise.  The CAA accepted that there was no organisation which assessing the implication of these kind of flight path changes.

The concentrated route across south-London

The concentrated route across south-London

We stressed that respite was important to local communities.  The CAA felt the introduction of respite was difficult in East and North East London because the airspace City aircraft use is very constrained – largely by Heathrow aircraft. Therefore, spreading City aircraft or creating additional flights paths (in order for those under concentrated flight paths to obtain respite) would be difficult.  They accepted that this would be less problematic South London, although an expansion of the airspace which City aircraft are permitted to use might be required.

The CAA outlined what happens next:

City Airport is required to gather data on whether the airspace changes made in February are functioning as expected.  The data gathered will also include a noise impact – City Airport would need to record any unintended consequences.  That data must arrive at the CAA by February 2017 (although the CAA would be looking for a 6-month interim report).  The CAA will then analyse that data and decide within three months, in May 2017, whether changes need to be made or to authorise the continuation of the scheme.  However, the CAA played down the likelihood that they would intervene to make changes, and they certainly won’t propose or initiate changes.  They are likely, though, to take into consideration any significant discontent from local communities or local authorities about the changes.

It became clear that pressure needs to be put on the airport by communities and local authorities to consider changes.  City Airport is keen on the concentrated routes because they make it easier to guide planes when landing and taking off.  NATS also like them because the new computer technology in the planes means that air traffic controllers are much less involved in guiding the them, thus saving NATS time and money.


What do we do next?

HACAN East will:

·         Lobby City Airport to abandon its current plan to concentrate all its flight paths over particular communities and instead to introduce respite so people an get some relief from the noise

·         Bring together a cross-party group of politicians to assist in this lobbying

·         Organise a series of public meetings to inform local communities about the latest development

·         Encourage local people to email and write to the airport and the CAA.

What you can do:

Email or write to the airport and the CAA to tell them about your experience of living under the concentrated flight paths. Two key contacts are below.


London City Airport: James Shearman, Environment Manager at:

London City Airport, City Aviation House, Royal Docks, London E16 2PB


Or call +44 (0)207 646 0200


Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) - information or complaints concerning flight paths:

Directorate of Airspace Policy, K6 G7, CAA House, 45-59 Kingsway, London WC2B 6TE



Please include in your emails to one of the above organisations, as it helps us build an even broader picture of your thoughts and feelings on the issue.

UPDATE: City Airport Planning Inquiry - HACAN East gives evidence

City Airport Public Inquiry - Update


HACAN East chair calls for insulation to match the best in Europe

John Stewart, chair of HACAN East issued a call on Friday 18 March for London City Airport to provide insulation for many more residents, to match the best noise mitigation of all airports in Europe. The call came during the opening week of the Public Inquiry into the airport’s expansion plans.

We are calling for City Airport to offer compensation for residents that match the levels offered by the best airports in Europe. If expansion goes ahead, the number of people overflown by City Airport planes will be higher than that of any airport in the UK, other than Heathrow and Manchester.  Airports like Frankfurt or Charles de Gaulle in Paris are twice as generous with the insulation schemes offered to residents as London City.

City Airport wants to expand in order to allow more air traffic movements.  Newham Council, the planning authority, gave permission for the airport to expand in February 2015, but this was overturned by Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, on noise grounds the following month. The airport appealed against the Mayor’s decision.  The result is this public inquiry.  

Lawyers for the Mayor argued in the opening week of the Inquiry that City Airport should compensate more people than it is prepared to do in the event of expansion happening.

HACAN East remains firmly opposed to the expansion.

The Inquiry sits at City Hall and is expected to last until April 7.

More information about the Inquiry can be found at


Below are our submissions of evidence to the Inquiry.

HACAN East’s opening statement

Evidence of John Stewart

Evidence of Alan Haughton


HACAN East Advice: Legal challenge to decision to concentrate flight paths unlikely to succeed

HACAN East consulted lawyers to ask whether there was any reasonable chance of challenging the CAA’s decision to allow the concentrated flight paths in court. (The concentrated flight paths were introduced on February 4th 2016).  It seems not. 

 The CAA argued that City Airport was allowed to carry out a minimalist consultation (a technical document on its website and discussions behind closed doors at the supine consultation committee) because the change was minimal.

 It argued that, because a lot of the planes already flew the proposed concentrated routes, the proposed change to concentrate the flight paths was not significant enough to require a fuller consultation.

 Our lawyers say that, in law, they may be correct.  But, if this is right, in our view it just shows how inadequate a body the CAA is to carry out this function – see blog: The CAA – in urgent need to significant reform

Testing Times for London City

A useful article, reproduced from Airways News, on the current state-of-play at City Airport. The original article can be accessed at


By Alan Dron in London / Published: February 9, 2016

Like the airliners that take off from its short runway, London City Airport (LCY) has been climbing steeply in recent years. But a combination of factors suggests the airport is running into turbulence. Its expansion plans have been blocked, its largest operator is threatening to reduce, or even withdraw, its services and a new flightpath plan is arousing the ire of nearby suburbs.

Built on abandoned wharves in London’s old dock area east of the city center in the 1980s, the airport has benefited hugely from being adjacent to the new Docklands financial district, which has boomed over the same period.

Financiers and executives are just a 15-minute taxi ride away from the compact terminal’s front door. And, in a throwback to the golden days of 1960s aviation, executives with only carry-on items can theoretically be walking across the apron to their flight just 15 minutes later. (If you need to check baggage, the airport recommends a 30-minute minimum.) It’s a very slick operation.


The airport operates with a single runway – 27/09 – that is 4327ft (1319m) long by 100ft (30m) wide. This limits usage to regional jets and turboprops, which have to make a steep, 5.5⁰ approach from the west to clear the Docklands’ district’s high-rise buildings. Bombardier Q400s, Embraer E-Jets and Avro RJs are the usual inhabitants of the apron, soon to be joined by Sukhoi Superjets when Ireland’s CityJet starts to take delivery of 15 this spring. Destinations are primarily short-haul western European, although British Airways (BA) operates a twice-daily, all-business class Airbus A318 from LCY to New York JFK.

RELATED: Long Haul on a Short Plane: An Analysis and Trip Report of British Airways JFK-LCY Service [Part One] / [Part Two] / [Part Three] / [Part Four]

A record 4.3 million passengers passed through LCY last year, a rise of 18% compared to 2014. But with success comes problems. The airport needs to expand. Soon.

Under the City Airport Development Programme (CADP), LCY proposed extending the terminal and adding aircraft stands to provide much-needed additional capacity. It already had permission to increase the number of annual movements from the current 70,000-plus to 120,000 by 2023.

In February 2015, the London Borough of Newham, within which LCY is located, approved the CADP. The following month, however, London mayor Boris Johnson, blocked the proposal on noise grounds.

Johnson is a long-running opponent of airport developments near the capital. He has been vehemently opposed to plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, west of the city, instead touting his preferred option of a giant new airport built at a location on the Thames Estuary, well to the east of the capital.

This would be seriously expensive, take at least a decade to construct and was ruled out last year by a commission set up by the UK government to give an unbiased appraisal of how runway capacity in southeast England should be expanded. (It opted for a third runway at Heathrow.)

LCY is appealing against the mayor’s refusal and a public inquiry, chaired by a government planning inspector, is due to start in March.

In the midst of this, LCY’s majority owners, US-based Global Infrastructure Partners, last summer put the airport up for sale for a reported £2 billion ($2.9 billion) price tag.
This has alarmed LCY’s largest user, BA, which believes that a new owner will have to raise landing charges to recoup its investment. In a warning shot across the bows of any prospective buyer, BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group, said 3 February that it would pull some or all of its flights if charges rose.

“Any potential new owner for London City should be left in no doubt that British Airways can move flights elsewhere if it ramps up airport charges to fund its investment,” it said. “BA’s customers will not swallow increased fares to fund unrealistic returns for a monopoly airport supplier.”


BA’s CityFlyer division operates 13 Embraer E190s and six E170s from LCY. BA mainline handles the LCY-JFK service.

New owners might question whether BA would really pull the plug on an airport whose passengers include an unusually high proportion of last-minute bookers who pay top rate for the privilege. However, as trade unions have discovered to their cost in the past, bluffing in a poker game with IAG’s no-nonsense CEO Willie Walsh is a high-risk strategy.
Meanwhile, unrest has also arisen from new, nationally-mandated area navigation (RNAV) regulations, which will have the effect of funnelling aircraft departing LCY into a tight corridor to improve efficiency. Anti-noise campaigners say this will create ‘noise ghettos’ for those underneath it.

Ironically, complaints are coming not from the airport’s immediate surroundings, probably because some 85% of the airport’s 2000 employees come from Newham, one of London’s poorest boroughs. Instead, mutterings have arisen from suburbs a few miles from the airport, over which climbing aircraft will pass at an altitude of a few thousand feet.

LCY can probably overcome this problem. Whether it can do the same with Mayor Johnson’s refusal to allow expansion lies in the hands of the government inspector.


Posted on January 10, 2016

Just before Christmas the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced that it had given London City Airport permission to concentrate its flight paths.

The change is due to come into effect on February 4th.

But HACAN East is consulting with lawyers about the possibility of a legal challenge

If the flight paths are introduced:

Most days Bow, Leyton, Leytonstone, Wanstead, Redbridge, Barkingside and Collier Row will get all the departures from the airport. Thamesmead will be badly hit by arrivals. All these areas will be hit about 70% of the time in a typical year: the days a west wind is blowing.

When the wind comes from the east all the departures will go over Barking Riverside, Dagenham and Hornchurch. And all the arrivals will go over Sidcup, New Eltham, Mottingham, Catford, Forest Hill, Dulwich Village, Herne Hill, Brixton, Stockwell and Vauxhall.

Although these changed flight paths are due to come in on February 4th, most of the communities that will be affected have not been told about them.

The information is hidden away in: (page 26 indistinct map for South London and p27 for Thamesmead).

And in (page 24 for Dagenham and page 26 for Leyton and Leytonstone).

For more details on this and the background behind the changes, see our blog: