There will be more planes flying over Chiswick over the summer. Heathrow closed its southern runway on Sunday night (12 July) and it will remain closed for weeks while the airport carries out essential maintenance. The northern runway will be handling both takeoffs and departures, meaning flights over Chiswick from before 5.00am until nearly 11.00pm daily.
The northern part of Chiswick is currently not under the flight path, but anyone who lives in the Chiswick Mall / Grove Park / Strand on the Green part of Chiswick is very familiar with the flight patterns.
Heathrow has a northern and a southern runway. Normally one is used for take-offs while the other is used for departures, the two runways handling 1,300 departures and landings each day in normal circumstances. When the airport is busy, there are on average around 650 arrivals into Heathrow each day with planes arriving into Heathrow from 04:30.
Aircraft are held in holding stacks, flying round and round until they are directed by NATS air traffic controllers to the final approach into Heathrow. To take the pressure off residents living under the flight path, air traffic controllers usually switch which runway is receiving arrivals and which one is handling departures at 3.00pm each day.
While the airport is not as busy this summer, Heathrow has taken the opportunity to do some maintenance work on the southern runway. As a result, west Londoners will hear the arrival of aircraft from before 5.00am to nearly 11.00pm daily.
The work will be carried out in two phases. Phase one involves extensive repairs to the southern runway that require deeper excavation. This will last until 2 August 2020 at the earliest. In phase two, the southern runway will be closed overnight (from 7.00pm – 7.00am) and in this second phase the works will continue, but Heathrow will open the southern runway during the day, so will use both runways again between 7.00am – 7.00pm.
Heathrow “softening up residents” for less respite in future
Maggie Thorburn, Vice-Chair of HACAN – Heathrow Association for Control of Aircraft Noise – told The Chiswick Calendar:
“We’ve become more sensitive to aircraft noise after this long period of peace and quiet. It will affect everyone under the flight path because whether you’re conscious of it or not, aircraft noise increases your stress levels.
“Whether it’s deliberate or otherwise, the effect will be to soften people up for a reduction in the alternation of runways. As the third runway becomes a more distant prospect, they will be looking to maximise the use of the existing runways and if it gets as busy again, they will look to reduce the periods of respite”.