London Biggin Hill Airport is committed to being a good neighbour to it’s local community. However, if you live near an airport it is inevitable you will hear and see aircraft – these aircraft are required to adhere to procedures and air traffic instructions whilst operating in and out of London Biggin Hill.
Our online flight tracker, Webtrak, uses the radar service from National Air Traffic Services (NATS) at Heathrow Airport and allows the system to automatically file a violation report, should aircraft depart from the agreed flightpaths when arriving or departing the airport. The violation reports are then investigated by London Biggin Hill in the same way that we investigate complaints relating to specific aircraft movements.
You can report an aircraft that you think is not complying with the agreed noise abatement protocols. To help you through this process, we have put together some guidance on how to use Webtrak and how aircraft operate at London Biggin Hill.
Give us your feedback
How can a complaint be made?
The easiest way for a complaint to be made is by using the Webtrak system. This has a simple form designed to ensure we have all of the required information to process your complaint, including data gathered by Webtrak, so we can investigate your feedback in full.
Any other complaint may be made using our online complaints form which can be found here: Make a Complaint
A telephone message line, 01959 578580, can also be used to register a complaint that does not relate to a specific aircraft movement. Please include details on how we can contact you with a response. If a complaint is submitted more than 7 days after the event took place, this will not warrant a response nor will it be recorded as a complaint.
We aim to respond to all complaints within 10 working days – dependant on the complexity and method used to submit the complaint.
How do we process complaints?
Following our increased opening hours in 2015, significant changes were made to the way in which aircraft operate to and from London Biggin Hill. This included the introduction of Noise Sensitive Areas (NSAs) covering local towns and villages and a reduction and restrictions to circuit flights – see ‘What is a circuit?’ further below on this page.
All complaints received are investigated using air traffic data and Webtrak, before being reviewed by the airport’s CEO who will respond to the complainant in writing.
The following highlights the stages through which we process your complaint:
- Stage 1: Compliant received and acknowledged
- Stage 2: Initial investigation regarding compliance/non compliance
- Stage 3: Response advising compliance or further review by SANARB
- Stage 4: Further investigation
- Stage 5: Post SANARB outcome
We would hope to get Stage 3 responses to residents within 14 days.
We would hope to get Stage 5 responses back to residents within 8 weeks, which allows for pilots and operators to respond to SANARB requests for additional information and for all elements of a potential non-compliance to be fully investigated.
All personal information relating to the complainant is redacted before it is passed to SANARB and the Noise Sub Committee.
A record is kept of all complaints for a period of five years and is included in the noise and safety sub committee report to the quarterly Airport Consultative Committee.
Safety & Noise Abatement Board (SANARB)
SANARB meet monthly and is made up of an independent chair, pilots qualified in a variety of aircraft types, the airport’s CEO, Head of Safety & Compliance, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and the London Borough of Bromley Airport Monitoring Officer. The Board will review all recommendations for warnings, fines and bans from operating at London Biggin Hill made by the independent chair and CEO.
Role of the Airport Consultative Committee
All airports are required by the Department for Transport to communicate openly and effectively with their local communities and users of the airport about the impact of the airports operations. This is the role of the Airports Consultative Committee (ACC) – government guidelines have been created to assist with establishing and running an airport’s ACC. Minutes of all ACC meetings held at London Biggin Hill are published here.
The ACC has a Noise and Safety Sub Committee that reviews all complaints that are brought before SANARB. The chair of the Sub Committee will report the findings to the ACC at the quarterly meetings.
Mobile Noise Monitors
In addition to the two fixed noise monitors at either end of our runway, we have two mobile noise monitors that are available to be positioned in residents’ properties to measure the noise generated by aircraft.
Applications can be made for the monitor to be positioned in your garden for up to two weeks. The monitor will appear on the Webtrak system so that you and other Webtrak users can see the noise levels in decibels. At the conclusion of the monitor being deployed a noise report will be sent to the resident containing all noise occurrences. If you would like to apply, please email: [email protected]
The monitors are calibrated annually by a noise specialist in accordance with the conditions of the Noise Action Plan.
A vexatious complaint means one that is made or pursued without reasonable grounds or made to harass or annoy, to cause delay or detriment, or for any other wrongful purpose that may have a detrimental impact on the airport’s reputation.
London Biggin Hill Airport is committed to dealing with all correspondence and complaints comprehensively and in a timely manner. If a complainant is unhappy with the outcome of a complaint and seeks to challenge it, this does not qualify them as vexatious or unreasonably persistent.
The airport may become subject to persistent complaints, as part of organised attempts to disrupt the noise complaints system, as a protest of the airport. For example, somebody with access to the online WebTrak system might repeatedly log their complaint by telephone or email to overwhelm the comments line and, as a consequence, delay the response times for those unable to use the WebTrak system (for any reason).
The airport has therefore developed a policy to address ‘vexatious’ complainants, counted as anyone who:
- Submits complaints which are abusive, threatening, or unacceptable in nature
- Makes repeated complaints about the same movement
- Makes more than five non-substantiated complaints (i.e., those where no deviation from flight procedures is found or where there were safety reasons for making that deviation) within a one-month period.
All cases of vexatious complainants will be referred to the Airport Consultative Committee’s (ACC) Noise and Safety Sub-Committee for confirmation. If the ACC Noise and Safety Sub-Committee confirm that a complainant is vexatious under this policy:
- Subsequent substantiated complaints from a person deemed to be vexatious will be processed in the normal manner, including a letter of response, however, unsubstantiated complaints by complainants listed as vexatious will not warrant a response.
- The ACC Noise and Safety Sub-Committee will notify the vexatious complainant in writing, informing them of their decision. The ACC Noise and Safety Sub-Committee will review those listed as vexatious complainants 12 months after they have been listed as vexatious and the decision confirmed at the next Airport Consultative Committee meeting. This review will confirm that either the complainant remains vexatious or that they may be removed from the status of vexatious based on the record of complaints made in the previous 12 months.
Noise Sensitive Areas (NSAs)
What is a Noise Sensitive Area (NSA)?
NSA’s are areas identified within the local area that should be avoided unless:
- The pilot is instructed to enter the NSA by air traffic control (ATC) for reasons of safety
- The pilot enters the NSA to maintain the safety of their aircraft.
Are NSA’s no fly zones?
- No, they are areas that should be avoided unless it is unsafe not to do so
- Reference to “No fly zones” in the NAP 2015 was inserted in inverted commas as a simplification of the explanation of a noise sensitive area and not a literal description.
At what height are aircraft permitted to overfly an NSA?
CAA regulations dictate that aircraft are permitted to overfly NSA’s at an altitude greater than 2,000 feet above sea level.
- Petts Wood is 272′ above sea level = aircraft at 2,000′ is 1,728′ above the ground
- Farnborough is 361′ above sea level = aircraft at 2,000′ is 1,639′ above the ground
- Tatsfield is 722′ above sea level = aircraft is 2,000′ is 1,278′ above the ground
- Keston is 427′ above sea level = aircraft at 2,000′ is 1,573′ above the ground
- Downe is 591′ above sea level = aircraft at 2,000′ is 1,409′ above the ground
- Woldingham is 652′ above sea level = aircraft at 2,000′ is 1,347′ above the ground
- The airport is 599′ above sea level = aircraft at 2,000′ is 1,401′ above the ground
For what reason may ATC instruct a pilot to enter an NSA?
To extend the downwind leg of a circuit to avoid an aircraft taking off or landing, or to deconflict aircraft to maintain a safe distance.
Where can you find out more about NSA's?
The management information letter (MIL), written in 2016, contains full details and can be found in Appendix 3 of the MIL which was published in 2016, a copy is available here.
The airspace around London Biggin Hill Airport
Airport Operating Hours
In accordance with the lease, London Biggin Hill Airport is permitted to operate and allow aircraft to take off or land between:
- Monday to Friday: 06.30 to 23.00 hours (Local time)
- Saturday & Sunday: 08.00 to 22.00 hours (Local time)
The Air Traffic Zone
The Air Traffic Zone (ATZ) is a 2.5 nautical mile circle centred on the runway. This circle of airspace rises from ground level up to 2,000 feet above aerodrome level. The ATZ, in which aircraft are controlled by London Biggin Hill’s Air Traffic Controllers, is designed to give protection to aircraft during the critical stages of flight when departing, arriving or flying in the vicinity of an aerodrome.
Click here for more information. The airspace outside of the ATZ is classified as Class G, see below.
Class G Airspace
The airspace across the UK is designated in Classes, A, B, C, D, E, and G. Class G is the only type that is “Uncontrolled” but does have restrictions applied for weather, visibility and the speed of aircraft below 10,000 ft restricted to 250kts. In Class G airspace, aircraft may fly when and where they like, subject to a set of simple rules.
Although there is no legal requirement to do so, many pilots notify Air Traffic Control of their presence and intentions and pilots take full responsibility for their own safety, although they can ask for help. Air Traffic Control can provide pilots in Class G with basic flight information service to support their safe flying.
What is a circuit?
Circuits are when an aircraft departs from the runway and then flies a pattern around the airport to land or to continue flight to complete a series of circuits. At London Biggin Hill Airport, the circuit (shown for illustrative purposes) can be flown either clockwise or counter-clockwise.
Each leg may be extended by air traffic control to allow separation between the aircraft flying the circuit and arriving and departing aircraft.
Are there any restrictions to circuit flying?
All aircraft types may undertake circuit flights for the purpose of training, revalidating a pilots licence rating or as part of post maintenance validation. All circuits other than training, and requests for outside of the authorised hours for circuits, require the approval of the Senior Air Traffic Controller (SATCO) or the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Circuits are restricted, in accordance with the airport’s Noise Action Plan (NAP), to:
Monday to Friday: 09.00 to 21.00 hours (Local time)
Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays: 09.00 to 17.00 hours (Local time)
Where can the noise abatement and other information be found for pilots?
Our noise abatement procedures are included in the airport’s Noise Action Plan (NAP) and made available to pilots through the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP).
The contents of the AIP are managed by London Biggin Hill Airport to ensure that the latest information is always available to pilots that wish to operate in or out of London Biggin Hill. Click here to see the latest version.
What aircraft operate from London Biggin Hill?
A vast array of aircraft operate in and out of London Biggin Hill; anything from a two seat light aircraft up to an Airbus A320, although the more common larger corporate business jets are the likes of a Bombardier Global or Challenger aircraft.
For jet aircraft to operate at London Biggin Hill, they must be “ICAO Chapter 3 compliant or better” – this means that it must meet the noise standards set out in Chapter 3 of part II, Volume 1 of Annex 16 to the convention on International Civil Aviation Organisation. This is fast being superseded by Chapter 4 certified aircraft which was introduced for all new aircraft produced after January 2006.
We restrict the period between 06:30 and 07:00 hours to Chapter 4 certified aircraft as part of our Noise Action Plan (NAP).
Operators at London Biggin Hill Airport provide a helicopter shuttle service into London and other destinations. Given the generally lower altitudes and the nature of noise generated from rotors, helicopter operations remain a concern to some residents. Helicopters normally follow light aircraft routes and the associated noise preferential routes. The airport will continue to work together with operators to investigate measures to further reduce noise disturbance wherever possible.