Fresh fears over flightpath change

JPCT S14500447x Cowfold, Sculptor and artist Janine Creaye lives where there is a stack where planes circles at busy times when trying to get into Gatwick Airport. SUS-140812-170612001
JPCT S14500447x Cowfold, Sculptor and artist Janine Creaye lives where there is a stack where planes circles at busy times when trying to get into Gatwick Airport. SUS-140812-170612001

A woman from Cowfold has claimed Gatwick Airport has moved its flightpaths south even though a controversial trial finished last autumn.

Janine Creaye lives under one of two areas called holding stacks, where planes circle on top of each other while waiting to land. The lowest must fly no lower than 7,000ft above sea level.

After collating publicly available tracking information for the past few months, she has created a map showing the extent of the problem.

Added to this is the uproar the airport caused in North Horsham last summer when it carried out a flightpath trial based on a system which programs aircraft to fly over the area of lowest population.

Janine claims she had evidence to suggest the airport has moved its flightpaths south after the trial finished in November.

She said: “If you see four banking together in tight formation - stacking on top of one another at up to six at a time, going round four times and spanning over 5,000ft difference in altitude - when you had no idea that there was a stack over your head in the last eight years, you know what you see.

“If the aircraft noise from 6am in the morning through to 1am and sporadically all through the night, continuing from April through to the end of October, has ruined your sleep, your rural tranquillity in the day, and threatens your sanity; when up until this year you had not a single cause for complaint - I think you know that something has changed.

“The changes are obvious on the Gatwick Airport tracker and many of the campaign groups have gathered hard evidence.

“The flightpaths have shifted south. We never saw a plane going over our house.”

Although Gatwick’s head of corporate responsibility Tom Denton confirmed the accuracy of the map he explained nothing had changed operationally. However unusually biased wind directions towards the east had influenced things.

He said: “Stacks will only be used when there are problems with the runway or in periods of peak travel - early morning and late afternoon and summer.

“We wouldn’t be inclined to have aircraft in our stacks now. In summer you will see stacks used day in day out.

“For the past ten to 15 years there’s been a 50-50 split of east and west operations.

“It’s been roughly 70 per cent east, 30 per cent west this year so people in that area there would be seeing aircraft more often than normal.”

He added the airport had also seen its air traffic reach record levels this year.

Janine also said the tracking data showed some planes are flying below the legal limit of 7,000ft above sea level.

Mr Denton said this was not possible. “That does not happen and would not be able to happen.

“We have departing traffic and arriving traffic that would not be using the stack that we have to fly underneath that stack, but the bottom of the stack is 7,000ft always. It would be catastrophic.”

Tracking data for all Gatwick arrivals and departures is available on at flighttracking.casper.aero/lgw