Airlines Deliver ‘Vote of No Confidence’ in new Route 4


in new design of Gatwick departure Route 4 (press release 13 Mar 2017).

Following a Freedom of Information request, residents blighted by the new Route 4 are in possession of emails, memos & letters between airlines/ pilots and the CAA and Gatwick.

And what they say makes grim reading.

What came back was a catalogue of complaints and disquiet. Here are some examples:

From airlines:

“I am loath to prescribe too many changing directions to the pilots of how to fly this departure, as it will start to become confusing and potentially create a threat to the operation of aircraft.”

“Please see attached presentation I asked one of my captains to make.  It shows exactly what’s happening even with a favourable wind.  It actually shows that the sim trials [simulator trials] are not calculating/ performing in the same way as the aeroplane.

From Gatwick: 

“[XXX airline] isn’t alone with the various track keeping issues.  I’m seeing this across the board in terms of airlines and AC [aircraft] types.  While I envisaged ballooning on the turn in strong south-westerlies (as we saw in the flight validation sessions in the sims); we are seeing them even in relatively calm conditions.”

“I have shared your observations with our airspace designers as clearly there is something amiss here…”

“It is not acceptable to reduce the speed below …. a typical clean speed for short and medium haul aircraft types – on the following counts:

  • Increased noise resulting from non-clean airframe when flaps and slats are required to fly more slowly.
  • Safety is compromised, as crew standard clean up SOPs [standard operating procedures] cannot be complied with.
  • Fuel burn is increased and is unacceptable on both cost and environmental grounds.
  • Any crews reducing speed on their own initiative, as they start to realise the recurring poor performance, will disrupt ATC [Air Traffic Control] and airport flow rates.”


A spokesman from Plane Justice said:  “These comments from the sharp end, confirm what residents have been saying for months – that airlines are struggling to fly the current design of Route 4, because the design is flawed and ill-conceived, un-flyable in even modest winds, and non-compliant with normal airspace design rules – quite apart from its breaches of regulations and protocols and the fact it blights many thousands of homes who were completely untroubled by aircraft noise before. 

How can this Route design possibly be considered compliant?

We call on the CAA to please do the right thing and return Route 4 to its pre-2013 geographical position and dispersal pattern.”