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6 October 2021
The following provides an update on our runway operations and the number of flight movements we expect to see at Heathrow this month.

Runway operations

We are currently on dual runway operations as usual, alternating at 15:00 when we are on westerly operations to provide local communities with respite.

Flight movements

Last month we outlined how we expected to see between 600-850 flight movements a day, with a large range due to continuing daily variation, the end of the Summer holiday period and uncertainty on whether further restrictions might be lifted. The lowest daily number of flights in the month was 645 (14 September) and the highest was 798 (26 September), well within our predicted range.

Our forecast for October ranges between 690-950 flight movements a day, with a large range once again due to the half term holiday and the start of our winter schedule at the end of the month. Fridays and weekends are expected to be significantly busier than other days of the week, with a general increase through the month as the impact of restrictions being lifted comes into effect.

Slightly Steeper Approaches

Heathrow has now received approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to implement Slightly Steeper Approaches (SSA) at the airport. These approaches have been in operation on a temporary basis following trials held between 2015 and 2017 and will now be made permanent by the end of the year.

Most aircraft arriving into Heathrow fly a standard 3.0° approach angle which is similar to most airports around the world. However, a small percentage fly a slightly steeper 3.2° approach, causing them to fly higher for longer. The trials demonstrated that this helps to reduce the noise footprint on the ground. This is the first major airspace change Heathrow has successfully transitioned through the Government’s new airspace change process introduced in 2018.

Minimising the impact of aircraft noise is a priority for Heathrow. We have been at the forefront of efforts to tackle noise and as a result Heathrow's noise footprint has shrunk considerably over the past few decades. The permanent adoption of SSA at Heathrow is one of the steps we are taking as we continue to make efforts to reduce the impact of noise.