MORE night flights should land from the west to help Heathrow's eastern neighbours sleep more soundly, it has been claimed.

About 70 per cent of planes landing between 11.30pm and 6am currently approach from the east, due to the westerly prevailing wind.

Switching to an easterly preference at night, meaning planes land from the west when weather conditions allow, would cut that figure to roughly 60 per cent, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Members of the London Assembly's health and environment committee met on Wednesday (March 6) to discuss this proposal and others in the Government's night flights consultation.

London Assembly member Murad Qureshi, who chairs the committee, said: "Londoners deserve a good night's kip. Although the supposed economic benefits of night flights are well rehearsed, there are detrimental health and economic impacts that result from disturbing people's sleep.

"If there are ways of sharing this burden more equally with the rest of the south-east they should be seriously considered by ministers."

Planes must generally land and take-off into the wind but can operate with a light following wind of up to five knots.

Day time flights operate with a westerly preference, meaning planes arrive from the east when weather conditions allow, to reduce noisy take-offs over London, which is more heavily populated.

At night, when there are an average of 15 flights, planes switch each week from an easterly to westerly preference.

Because almost all night flights are landings - mostly from the far east, arriving after 5am - switching to a permanent easterly preference at night would reduce noise for Londoners.

It would mean quieter nights for an estimated 110,000 people to the east of Heathrow, including those in Hounslow, but more disturbance for about 15,000 people to the west.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s sustainability director, said: "We know aircraft noise, including early morning arrivals, can disturb people living under the flight path and we have a strong interest in exploring all options to mitigate this.

"We encourage airlines to fly only their quietest aircraft through higher charges for noisier aircraft, offer insulation to local residents and are currently working with noise campaigners to give residents predictable respite from early morning noise.

"We are also working with air traffic control to understand more about operating early morning rotation as we understand the benefits it could offer to local communities.

"However, there are a number of factors that affect how often easterly preference could be implemented and until we understand this fully, we do not want to raise hopes in west London only to then disappoint.’

The Government's night flights consultation closes on April 22.