A public consultation will take place later this year as Heathrow prepares for one of the biggest change to flight paths in its history.
The airport told a Heathrow Community Forum meeting on Wednesday (May 24) that the 12 week event will look at the design principles people want to see flight paths based on.
A radical overhaul is expected to take place with or without a third runway as new technology revolutionises air travel.
It is the first of a three-stage consultation and will seek views on aspects such as whether people want the flight paths concentrated on a few communities, or prefer to see the introduction of multiple flight paths so the noise is shared around more equally.
The airport told the forum it will be starting from "a blank piece of paper" to put in place one of the biggest changes to flight paths since Heathrow opened in 1946.
The changes are part of a world-wide programme to alter flight paths driven by cutting edge technology.
Precision-Based Navigation (PBN) enables planes to be guided more precisely, saving the airlines fuel, cutting CO2 emissions, allowing air traffic control to run a slicker operation with fewer staff and giving airports more resilience, regarded critical at a busy airport like Heathrow.
PBN allows aircraft to be concentrated along narrow corridors, but this has caused uproar in many American cities, and has also resulted in a four-fold rise in complaints at London City Airport when it was introduced last year.
According to HACAN, the campaign group which gives a voice to residents under the Heathrow flight paths, Heathrow favours multiple routes so as to give communities under the concentrated flight paths some relief from the noise.
Chairman John Stewart said: “Whether or not they get permission for a third runway, Heathrow know they have got to get the flight path changes right.
“With so many people affected by noise from the airport, if they get it wrong there could be major problems.
“We will be pressing Heathrow to create as many flight paths as it can so that the noise is shared around as fairly as possible.
“The alternative is noise ghettos.”
A spokesperson for Heathrow said: “Following the most in depth study of aviation expansion in a generation, the government’s Airports Commission confirmed a bigger Heathrow can be a better neighbour by ensuring fewer people are impacted by aircraft noise, offer more predictable respite than we can now, and through our offer of a world-class noise insulation scheme.
“We’ve always said we would consult with our communities on the design of flight paths. The consultation later this year is the first step in a three-staged approach which will ensure we give as many people as possible the opportunity to engage and influence the way an expanded Heathrow operates.”
The second phase of consultation will gauge a rough idea of which communities will be under a flight path, before phase three will present the flight path options.
HACAN say the new flight paths could be in place by around 2025.
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