Aircraft activity to the North

The current aircraft routes explained on this page were developed and established following in depth trials in 2006/2007 and were introduced in consultation with local stakeholders. The aim of the “Noise Preferred Routings” is to minimise the noise impact on local people, and divert aircraft away from populated areas as far as practical.

Specialist Approach Guidance Systems

Aircraft arriving from the North will utilise one of two approach methods to arrive into the airport.

ILS – Instrument Landing System

The ILS utilises three radio beams which are emitted from ground based infrastructure located within the airport boundary. One beam ensures that the aircraft is aligned with the runway centreline, one creates a “glide path” for aircraft to follow to allow them to descend at the correct speed and angle and one gives distance away from touch down. This system works in conjunction with specialist systems on board the aircraft and allows for a consistent flight path. The ILS approach is used for all arrivals during low visibility and low cloud and is classed as a precision approach.

Visual Approach

A visual approach is where pilots position the aircraft to land by using a visual reference to the airfield. The pilot will manually fly the aircraft and will align with the runway using a combination of visual referencing and various lighting systems that are on the ground at the airport. A visual approach can only be flown when visibility is good and when the clouds are above a certain height. The flight path over the ground for a visual approach can vary slightly.

Aircraft Departing to the North (Runway 02)

Aircraft departing in a northerly direction are required to continue along the runway heading until reaching two and a half miles from the end of the runway. This avoids overflying the village of Bishopstoke to the north east, and densely populated areas of Eastleigh and Chandler’s Ford to the North West. After this point aircraft will then route towards their next navigational waypoint.

Aircraft Arriving from the North (Runway 20)

Non-Visual Approach (using specialist navigation equipment - ILS)

Aircraft will join the standard approach path from no less than 8 nautical miles and at a constant 3° angle of approach.

Visual Approach

Aircraft making a visual approach will be aligned with the centre line of the runway from not less than 2 nautical miles when arriving from a southerly point of origin, and at 5 nautical miles when from northerly, easterly or westerly directions.

Exclusions from Noise Preferred Routes

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has a strict consultation process in place to ensure that all stakeholders are made aware of, and given an opportunity to feedback on any proposed permanent flight path changes. It is important to note that Southampton Airport will not permanently change any flight paths without following this process of consultation. However, there are conditions when noise preferred routes will not be flown on a temporary basis. These include:

Type of aircraft

These routes only apply to commercial aircraft above 5700kgs and to all jet aircraft. Smaller aircraft types, such as the Trislander aircraft, smaller propeller aircraft and helicopters will not follow these routes as this would result in significantly increased journey times and increased fuel usage.

Operational activity

Occasionally aircraft will be directed by NATS not to fly the Noise Preferred Route due to weather conditions, other air traffic in the area, or for aircraft performance reasons.

In addition, communities around the airport are likely to see and hear aircraft even if they do not fly directly overhead.