You are here:

Slightly steeper approach trial

May 2017

Between 25 May and 11 October 2017 we will be carrying out a second trial of a slightly steeper approach angle for aircraft landing at Heathrow. It is one of 10 practical steps Heathrow is taking through its Blueprint for Noise Reduction to explore ways to improve the noise climate around the airport.

This trial follows on from the initial slightly steeper approach trial we held between September 2015 and March 2016 which tested a 3.2° approach angle. (The international standard approach for most airports in the world is set at 3 degrees, except for obstacle clearance e.g. buildings, terrain etc.)

Steeper approaches graphic


Following the conclusion of the initial trial, we sought permission to introduce the procedure on a permanent basis. The CAA was supportive of this but has requested that further data should be collected during warm months to consider the effect warmer temperatures have on approach angles flown, so a second trial is now being conducted. If this shows no adverse impacts, then we will look to start the process of making the approaches permanent.

As with the initial trial, this trial is about gathering data to better understand how a slightly steeper approach angle would impact Heathrow’s operation.

We believe that a steeper angle is possible and that this, in conjunction with a number of other Heathrow initiatives, will lead to quieter approaches to the airport. As we have done over the last few decades, we will continue to explore initiatives like this to further reduce Heathrow’s overall noise footprint to improve the impacts on the ground.

Our long term aim is to introduce approaches of up to 3.5° in the future, and we plan to incorporate steeper angles of descent into our proposals for redesigning the Heathrow airspace as part of the Government’s Future Airspace Strategy.

For more information you can download our fact sheet here.