Gatwick Obviously

e-newsletter No.25

If you read only one section below, make it the 'technical research' one.
This goes to the very heart of why our skies to the east of Gatwick have become such an abomination of noise, and critically completely exposes the CAA's rationale for doing so.

And if 'you' includes Dame Deirdre Hutton DBE, Chair of the CAA, please read that section closely and explain to us all (through me if you like) where the gain has been for all this pain that has been caused to countless thousands in the south-east?
We've made you a special email address:


Hello Database - all 2,000 of you and counting.

It's been a while, but please don't mistake quietness for inaction.

We continue to work very hard on several levels to try and restore some tranquillity to your skies. These include:-

A message about our funding for the on-going legal action

We raised over £100,000 in a few days in late February, such is the overwhelming fury and feeling of injustice out there. Hence Phase I of our fundraising was a complete success.

Phase II will be via a Crowd Funding platform in due course, but in the meantime if you are one of the many who have said they will contribute but haven't quite got round to it, we'd love to see your money drop in to the account.

If you email with a note of your donation we can acknowledge it. Every penny counts, it really does.

Thank you very much indeed!

On-line account details are:

Name: GON
Lloyds Bank
Number: 54435360
Sort code: 30-98-77

Legal - the Judicial Review

Our final papers have gone in to the Court seeking Permission to go to a Hearing. We will advise you when we have any further news but please expect a lull on this front for a while.

Campaigning Co-ordination

You'll have noted our 'United Message', delivered to Downing Street by appointment, after having been agreed and signed off by 6 major campaigning organisations that surround Gatwick.
The Evening Standard carried a piece on it.

We're now getting calls from far and wide (including California!) from others impacted or potentially affected by the creation of noise ghettos, through the way airport operators and 'regulators' are interpreting Government policy by narrowing flight paths.
We see enormous strength in unity and will continue these conversations over the coming weeks and months.

Dialogue with Government

The response to our United Message was somewhat dismissive. Judge for yourself, the letter from the DfT is below.
We (and that message) collectively represent many thousands of people affected and afflicted by the flight path changes but they prefer to belittle you and us as simply 'various community organisations' as if we are concerned about a bit of flyposting.
At some stage they will start listening, but it hasn't happened yet.

However, it is interesting to note that in this letter the 'Minister responsible for aviation issues', Robert Goodwill states that:
"this paper also points out the limitations of using PBN for multiple route as well as flags up the issue that aircraft noise can be heard for several kilometres away from the aircraft…"
Yes, so what, I hear you say? Of course aircraft noise travels laterally.
Well, according to this statement from Gatwick, the CAA do not measure it this way:
"The implementation of P-RNAV follows Government Policy, which states that airports should aim 'to limit and, where possible, reduce the number of people in the UK significantly affected by aircraft noise'.
This is interpreted by the CAA as those who are directly overflown by aircraft, therefore it is in line with Government Policy to condense aircraft rather than disperse
(Gatwick FPT 5th December 2014)

So unless the aircraft goes directly over your head, its affect on your wellbeing doesn't count.
A somewhat Kafkaesque sequence of logic in that paragraph don't you think?
And this definition of Kafkaesque seems strangely relevant

"describes a nightmarish situation which most people can somehow relate to, although strongly surreal. With an ethereal, 'evil', omnipotent power floating just beyond the senses"

We've been pointing out for some time how utterly ridiculous the 'directly overflown' directive is and it's very useful to have the Aviation Minister agree.
At last.

Technical research - or why we are enduring what we are for no apparent reason

This continues apace with several dedicated individuals digging very deeply into exactly what has been going on in our skies (very particularly Simon Byerley at one of our fellow campaign groups, CAGNE.East).

As you may recall, the CAA et al have now admitted that the swathe in which the planes join the final approach (for arrivals from the east of Gatwick) has been narrowed by 60% - from 7-12 nautical miles to 10-12nm.
Or, as they put it in aero-speak 'moving the minimum establishment point to 10nm'

Here's the CAA's reason for destroying your tranquillity:

"Since 2013, NERL's operational procedures have involved moving the minimum establishment point from 7 nautical miles to 10 nautical miles on both approaches. The reason for doing this was to minimise the potential for ATC-induced rushed and potentially unstable approaches, which may result in a missed approach ('Go-Around')…"
Dame Deirdre Hutton, DBE, Chair of the CAA, 28th April 2015

Yet, according to Gatwick's own data, the number of Go-Arounds actually increased in 2014 from 0.38% to 0.39%! (473 v 512 events)

Indeed the average for the last 11 years is 0.34%.


Furthermore, Dame Deirdre omitted to mention one highly significant factor, also revealed by Gatwick:
The main 'causal factor' for those Go-Arounds was not 'unstable approaches' but actually 'runway occupied'.
Take a look at this graph from Gatwick. At least twice as many events caused by 'runway occupied' v 'unstable approaches'.


Why was this not mentioned, Dame Deirdre?

Could it be that in Gatwick's dash-for-tax-free-cash they're trying to cram in too many planes at rush-hour to secure those prime landing slot fees?
Could it be that regulators (CAA), airspace managers (NATS) and operators (Gatwick) are using the Government aviation policy as an excuse to maximise throughput?
Is the pain actually nothing to do with curing 'unstable approaches' and actually all to do with maximising off-shore profits?

Moving from Kafka to something more conceptually straightforward, have you not been hoist by your own petard, Dame Deirdre?
Let me present to you my easy 3-point argument for relative peace in our skies.

Martin says:

Simple really.

And, finally …

Some of you have asked why it goes quiet for days and days, you emerge from your shelters into a clear blue sky day and then suddenly the aural assault re-commences out of nowhere for apparently for no reason.
I'm afraid they aren't stopping it for the elections, or to curry favour for the 2nd runway, or because we have been successful already in clearing the skies.
It's all about the wind direction. Planes tend to land and take off into the wind.
Simple, but true.

Thank you for all your continued support. I hate to say this but the summer schedule is coming and you can rest assured we'll keep paddling furiously until we achieve a change to your airspace.
For the better!

Whether at Parish, District or Parliamentary level, please make sure you vote for those who have put sorting this issue out at the top of their agenda.

Despite Kafka & his friends in high places, do your best to keep calm - and we'll carry on.


Martin Barraud


May 4th 2015

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