Noise and Airspace
London Biggin Hill Airport is committed to being an asset to the local community but it is inevitable that if you live near to an airport that you will certainly hear and see aircraft. But those aircraft are required to adhere to procedures and air traffic instructions whilst operating in and out of London Biggin Hill Airport.
Our online flight tracker, Webtrak, uses the radar service from National Air Traffic Services (NATS) at Heathrow Airport that allows the system to automatically files a report should aircraft depart from the agreed flightpaths when arriving or departing the airport. But you can also report an aircraft that you think is flying outside of the agreed areas, to help with this we have put together some guidance on how to use Webtrak and how aircraft operate at London Biggin Hill.
CLICK HERE to go to Webtrak
INTRODUCTION TO WEBTRAK
The airport’s Noise & Track keeping system was installed at the time that the airport operating hours was extended in accordance with the Noise Action Plan. Webtrak produced by Bruel & Kjaer is recognised as an industry leader in this field with the system in use with airports around the world including Heathrow, Gatwick, Barcelona and Washington.
The purpose of WebTrak is to allow members of the local community to see aircraft operating in and out of London Biggin Hill along with those aircraft that are over flying the local area. Should it be thought that an aircraft has flown outside of the agreed areas, the system can used to generate a complaint to the airport that will trigger an investigation.
FINDING YOUR LOCATION
Making a Complaint
The easiest way for a complaint to be made is by using the Webtrak system, this has a simple form that is designed to ensure we have all of the required information to process your complaint including data gathered by Webtrak to help us investigate the cause of your complaint.
Any other complaint may be made using our online complaints form which can be found here: Make a Complaint
A telephone message line, 01959 578580, can also be used to register a complaint that does not relate to a specific aircraft movement, please include details on how we can contact you with a response. We aim to respond to all complaints within 10 working days dependant on the complexity of the complaint.
Radical changes were made in 2015 to the way in which aircraft operate to and from the airport following the increase in operating hours, these include Noise Sensitive Areas (NSA) covering local towns and villages and a reduction and restrictions to circuit flights, “see what is a circuit”. But we must accept that we will still receive complaints from local residents that need to be investigated and action taken if there has been a breach of local flying protocols.
All complaints received are investigated using air traffic data and Webtrak before being reviewed by the airport’s CEO who will respond to the complainant in writing informing of the actions taken which may be:
- Aircraft followed standard procedures no further action to be taken.
- Passed to the Safety and Noise abatement review board, (SANARB) for review and application of sanctions.
All personal information relating to the complainant is redacted before it is passed to SANARB and the Noise Sub Committee.
A record is kept of all complaints for a period of five years and is included in the noise and safety sub committee report to the quarterly Airport Consultative Committee.
SANARB meet monthly and is made up of an independent chair, Biggin Hill Airport Ltd CEO, pilots qualified in a variety of aircraft types and the London Borough of Bromley airport monitoring officer. The board may request that the pilot submit a report or appear before the board, award a written warning, fine or a ban from operating at Biggin Hill.
All airports are required by the Department for Transport to communicate openly and effectively with their local communities and users of the airport about the impact of the airports operations. This is the role of the Airports Consultative Committee, government guidelines have been created to assist with establishing and running an airports ACC. Minutes of all ACC meetings held at Biggin Hill are contained HERE.
The ACC has a Noise and Safety sub committee that will review all complaints that have been been before SANARB. The chair of the sub committee will report the committees findings to the ACC at the quarterly meetings.
In addition to the two fixed noise monitors at either end of the runway we also have two mobile noise monitor’s that are available to be positioned in residents properties to measure the noise generated by aircraft. Applications can be made for the monitor to be positioned in your garden for up to two weeks. The monitor will appear on the Webtrak system so that you can see the noise levels in decibels with a report on all noise occurrences sent out to the resident. If you would like to apply please email: email@example.com
The monitors are calibrated annually by a noise specialist in accordance with the conditions of the Noise Action Plan.
Noise Sensitive Areas (NSA)
NSA’s are areas identified within the local area that should be avoided unless:
- The pilot is instructed to enter the NSA by air traffic control (ATC) for reasons of safety
- The pilot enters the NSA to maintain the safety of their aircraft.
Are NSA’s no fly zones?
- No, they are areas that should be avoided unless it is unsafe not to do so
- Reference to “No fly zones” in the NAP 2015 was inserted in inverted commas as a simplification of the explanation of a noise sensitive area and not a literal description.
Click HERE to see a map of the NSA’s
CAA regulations dictate that aircraft are permitted to overfly NSA’s at an altitude greater than 2,000 feet above sea level.
- Petts Wood is 272′ above sea level = aircraft at 2,000′ is 1,728′ above the ground
- Farnborough is 361′ above sea level = aircraft at 2,000′ is 1,639′ above the ground
- Tatsfield is 722′ above sea level = aircraft is 2,000′ is 1,278′ above the ground
- Keston is 427′ above sea level = aircraft at 2,000′ is 1,573′ above the ground
- Downe is 591′ above sea level = aircraft at 2,000′ is 1,409 above the ground
- the airport is 599′ above sea level = aircraft at 2,000′ is 1,401′ above the ground
To extend the downwind leg of a circuit to avoid an aircraft taking off or landing, or to deconflict aircraft to maintain a safe distance.
The airspace around London Biggin Hill Airport
In accordance with the lease London Biggin Hill Airport is permitted to operate, that is allow aircraft to take off or land between:
- Monday to Friday 06.30 to 23.00 hours
- Saturday & Sunday 08.00 to 22.00 hours
The Air Traffic Zone (ATZ) is a 2.5 nautical mile circle centred on the runway. This circle of airspace rises from ground level up to 2,000 feet above aerodrome level. The ATZ, in which aircraft are controlled by Biggin Hill’s air traffic controllers, is designed to give protection to aircraft during the critical stages of flight when departing, arriving or flying in the vicinity of an aerodrome. Click HERE for more information. The airspace outside of the ATZ is classified as Class G, see below.
The airspace across the UK is designated in Classes, A, B, C, D, E, and G. Class G is the only type that is “Uncontrolled” but does have restrictions applied for weather, visibility and the speed of aircraft below 10,000 ft restricted to 250kts. In class G airspace, aircraft may fly when and where they like, subject to a set of simple rules.
Although there is no legal requirement to do so, many pilots notify Air Traffic Control of their presence and intentions and pilots take full responsibility for their own safety, although they can ask for help. Air Traffic Control can provide pilots in Class G with basic flight information service to support their safe flying.
Circuits are when an aircraft departs from the runway and then flies a pattern around the airport to land or to continue flight to complete a series of circuits. At Biggin Hill Airport the circuit, shown for illustrative purposes, can be flown either clockwise or counter-clockwise.
Each leg maybe extended by air traffic control to allow separation between the aircraft flying the circuit and arriving and departing aircraft.
All aircraft types may undertake circuit flights for the purpose of training, revalidating a pilots licence rating or as part of post maintenance validation. All circuits other than training and requests for outside of the authorised hours for circuits require the approval of the Senior Air Traffic Controller (SATCO) or the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Circuits are restricted, in accordance with the airports Noise Action Plan (NAP) to:
Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays 09.00 to 17.00 hours
Monday to Friday 09.00 to 21.00 hours
Our noise abatement procedures that are included in the airports noise action plan (NAP) are made available to pilots through the AIP (aeronautical information publication). The contents of the AIP are managed by Biggin Hill Airport to ensure that the latest information is always available to pilots that wish to operate in or out of Biggin Hill. Click HERE to see the latest version.
A vast array of aircraft operate in and out of Biggin Hill, anything from a two seat light aircraft up to an Airbus A320 although the more common larger corporate business jets are the likes of a Bombardier Global or Challenger aircraft.
For jet aircraft to operate at Biggin Hill airport it must be “ICAO Chapter 3 compliant or better”, this means that it must meet the noise standards set out in Chapter 3 of part II, Volume 1 of Annex 16 to the convention on International Civil Aviation Organisation. This is fast being superseded by Chapter 4 certified aircraft that was introduced for all new aircraft produced after January 2006.
We restrict the period between 06:30 and 07:00 hours to Chapter 4 certified aircraft as part of our Noise Action Plan (NAP).
Operators at Biggin Hill Airport provide a helicopter shuttle service into London and other destinations that may be chartered. Given the generally lower altitudes and the nature of noise generated from rotors, helicopter operations remain a concern to some residents. Helicopters normally follow light aircraft routes and the associated noise preferential routes. The airport will continue to work together with operators to investigate measures to further reduce noise disturbance wherever possible.