FAQ's and contacts
I’ve noticed an increase in noise and over flight of my property; have you changed your flight paths?
The current noise preferred routes have been in operation since 2007 and are reviewed as part of the Technical Working Group’s remit. The current routes were introduced following a consultation with stakeholders and local residents and if the airport was to change any routes, the same level of consultation would be required. However, the noise preferred routes may not be followed by certain types of aircraft or due to various safety reasons. Please see the aircraft activity to the south and aircraft activity to the North sections for more information in your area.
Flight paths can also be influenced by wind direction as this dictates the direction in which aircraft can take off or land. Please see the weather section for more information.
Flight paths in the wider airspace away from the airport can vary and are directed by NATS. All flights are sequenced with other traffic arriving and departing Bournemouth airport, Heathrow and Gatwick and other aerodromes in the area so activity at these locations can affect flight paths taken.
I was woken by an aircraft after 23:00; I thought that you weren’t allowed to operate flights after this time?
We do not currently schedule night flights; however Southampton Airport is permitted 10 night movements per month, limited to 100 per year to allow for medical flights, technical delays and any schedule delays that may occur. We class a night flight as taking place after 23:00 but before 06:00 Monday to Saturday and 07:30 on a Sunday. It is important to note that aircraft arriving or departing other airfields may transit our airspace, even when Southampton Airport is closed.
What is airspace?
The true definition of Airspace is the portion of the atmosphere controlled by a country above its territory, including its territorial waters or, more generally, any specific three-dimensional portion of the atmosphere. The airspace over Southampton Airport is classed as controlled airspace. Controlled airspace exists where it is deemed necessary that air traffic control has some form of positive executive control over aircraft flying in that area. This is for the safe passage of commercial aircraft and is for the safety of passengers on board the flight. Air Traffic Control will sequence flights within controlled airspace to ensure that strict separation is maintained, both laterally and horizontally between aircraft. An aircraft can manoeuvre anywhere within an area of controlled airspace.
Why do your aircraft fly over populated areas when there are fields just to the South of my property?
All commercial aircraft operating into or out of Southampton Airport will be required to stay within the confines of controlled airspace. This includes the areas of controlled airspace that immediately surround Southampton Airport and also the wider airspace including airways which are the “motorways in the sky for aircraft.” These areas of controlled airspace span a large portion of the skies above our heads and form corridors where aircraft fly. The position at which the aircraft take within the corridor of airspace can vary for a number of reasons including whether the aircraft is arriving or departing an airport, the size of the aircraft and also sequencing with other airport traffic is considered. It is also key to note that all traffic routing will be under the control of air traffic controllers. These controllers will not see areas of population on their radar screens, all they see are the boundaries of controlled airspace so it is not possible for them to avoid particular properties or roads.
For aircraft on final approach to land, the flight crew will aim to be aligned with the runway as soon as possible. This is for safety reasons so the pilots have ample time to ensure that the aircraft is set up and ready to land safely. For aircraft on departure, the aircraft will aim to get as high as possible as quickly as possible as flight at higher altitudes is more efficient. The routings taken will vary depending on whether the aircraft is departing to the North or South. Please see the relevant section for more information.
What height will aircraft be whilst in my area?
The general rule of thumb for aircraft operations is to get as high as possible as quickly as possible. The reason for this is because an aircraft is more efficient at higher altitudes due to the thinner air which results in better fuel efficiency and reduced noise for those on the ground.
Aircraft heights in any individual area will vary depending on many factors including the route taken by the aircraft, your distance away from the airport, aircraft/engine type, weather conditions and the weight of the aircraft. If you have a question about a specific movement, please contact the Noise and Flight Evaluation Unit for more information.
I see aircraft over my property one day and the next, I see nothing. Why is this?
The main reason for this will be down to wind direction. The wind direction dictates the direction of take-off and landing for all aircraft at all airfields around the world. For safety and performance reasons, an aircraft will always take off and land into wind. Due to the prevailing South West Wind, we do see a large majority of flights land from the North and take off from the South but due to the nature of the surrounding terrain and areas of open water, the wind direction can change daily, even hourly. Where the surface wind at the airfield is calm, winds at 1000ft -3000ft are taken into consideration.
What happens to my complaint after I have logged it?
All feedback relating to Southampton Airport air traffic is recorded and investigated using our flight tracking software if necessary. The information is reviewed, analysed and presented to the Southampton Airport Consultative Committee, and the Technical Working Group. It is important for us to listen and engage with local communities in order to understand how our operations affect our neighbours, and make positive changes where possible and practicable.
What happens when an aircraft is found not to follow the noise preferred routes?
There are occasions where aircraft are instructed by NATS not to follow the noise preferred routes, usually due to weather conditions or other safety reasons. However, if an aircraft deviates for no reason, a full investigation will be carried out in conjunction with the aircraft operator and we reserve the right to impose a financial penalty on the airline, with all monies being invested back into community projects.
I’m moving to the area, where can I find more information about flight routes?
Firstly we always recommend that you spend some time in the area to gain an understanding of where aircraft fly in the vicinity. It is best to pick different times over a number of different days so you can understand how the schedule and routes can vary. We also encourage you to get in touch with us so we can give you an accurate picture of flight paths and any more information to better inform your decisions. Your estate agent should be able to put you in touch with the seller of the property to discuss their experiences but please remember that noise is subjective, what affects one may not affect another!
Where can I find out about your wake vortex policy?
For any questions concerning our wake vortex policy please contact us.
If you are concerned that your property may have experienced wake vortex damage, please contact
0344 481 7777 and select option 7 and ask to speak to the Airport Duty Manager.
Contacts and useful links
Noise and Flight Evaluation Unit
Telephone: 02380 627070
Write to: Noise and flight evaluation unit
OFCOM for TV signal concerns
MOD Low Flying Complaints and Enquiries Unit
Telephone: 0845 600 7580
Southampton Airport Consultative Committee
Telephone: 02380 688113