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We would like to make changes to one of our departure routes, known as 'Compton’.  This route (illustrated below) is used by departing aircraft for around 30 per cent of the year when the airport is on easterly operations (i.e. when the winds are from the east).

Why does the Compton route need changing?

The Compton route was designed in the 1960s when the number of aircraft using Heathrow were far fewer than today.  Over time, the route has become challenging to manage because of its proximity to one of Heathrow’s holding stacks to the south of the airport.  This requires NATS air traffic controllers to manually direct aircraft using this route to separate them from the stream of arrivals making their way from the holding stack into the airport. One of the results of this is that a much lower percentage of aircraft are able to stay within the Noise Preferential Route (NPR) compared with other departure routes from Heathrow. 

A redesigned route would significantly reduce the need for controllers to manually direct aircraft using the Compton route. It will also help us meet government and CAA requirements and ensure more predictability about where aircraft will fly.

What is the process for changing the route?

In December 2018 we initiated an Airspace Change Proposal (ACP) to replace the Compton route. This ACP was paused in March 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. We will now incorporate the requirements for replacing Compton into our new airspace design, so we have withdrawn this separate ACP.