FAMILIES in the Ascot area could be in for a loud shock over the next five months because changes to Heathrow flightpaths will mean more planes going overhead.
Airport bosses and air traffic controllers are experimenting with flight path changes and new technology systems in a bid to reduce ‘stacking’ in the air and speed up departure times, putting more planes in the air at a faster rate.
There will be different trial routes for planes taking off from Heathrow, with some aircraft passing over Ascot, Sunningdale and Sunninghill – scheduled to start some time in September.
This will impact on communities because passenger jets will be passing over their homes at 3,000ft.
Times between takeoffs have been shortened, and the increased number of passenger airline departures will last until January 26. There will be a public consultation in 2016 and Heathrow’s ‘noise team’ has been briefed to deal with complaints.
Details of the flight alterations have been unearthed by the Ascot, Sunninghill and Sunningdale Neighbourhood Plan Delivery Group and published online.
Royal Borough councillor David Hilton (Ascot and Cheapside) says he has already had complaints in advance of the ‘trials’ and has alerted Windsor MP Adam Afriyie.
Cllr Hilton said: “This could be Heathrow’s way of increasing their traffic capacity and we are obviously worried about what will happen. This is not like popping outside your front door to have a look at Concorde.
“Heathrow can undergo trials without consultation and appear to be concentrating more aircraft in narrower channels than they have done in the past.
“Obviously many people in this region depend on Heathrow but Heathrow has to be fair and reasonable and we are worried in case too many planes are channelled in narrow air corridors.
“There appears to have been increased activity since June and I have received five or six complaints. One Jumbo flew very low over Winkfield.” The campaigners’ newsletter says: “There will be six new routes, three of which will track our area.
“The purpose of these trials is to reduce the intervals between take-offs by using more departure routes which diverge more significantly from each other than current ones.” The group’s map shows new routes passing at 3,000ft south west over Cheapside, another west of the Ascot Racecourse and a third south west over Sunningdale to Lightwater.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said its proposals have not been kept under wraps and are accessible online.
She said: “It is all part of the airspace modernisation strategy which has not been upgraded for 40 years.” A Heathrow website article says: “This has the potential to reduce holding times on the ground to reduce delays on departure.” A spokeswoman for NATS Holdings – formerly National Air Traffic Control Services – said: “Basically it is upgrading technology and streamlining old designs.”