Aircraft Noise | Frequently Asked Questions | Bristol Airport
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Aircraft Noise - Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive regarding aircraft noise.  You can find a general introduction on how aircraft arrive and depart Bristol Airport here.

What are the flight paths to and from the airport?

There are no set flight paths for aircraft arriving at Bristol Airport. Aircraft arrive from different directions, depending on their place of origin. They turn to line up with the extended centreline of our runway.

For departing aircraft we have defined Noise Preferential Routes (NPRs).  Aircraft can turn out of the NPRs when they reach 3000ft. You can see a map here. We monitor adherence to the NPRs, with 99% of aircraft departing “ontrack”. 

Have the flight paths been changed?

When aircraft arrive and depart Bristol Airport they do not follow one single line. There is an anticipated variation in where aircraft fly as they arrive and depart the airport.

On departure, aircraft follow Noise Preferential Routes (NPRs) which are defined corridors. These have been in place for many years and we have not changed them. There will be some anticipated variation in where aircraft position within the NPRs, depending on the weather conditions, the aircraft type or the aircraft load.

We do not have fixed arrival routes, so again there will always be a degree of variation on where aircraft are positioned.

In 2014 we introduced one new arrivals procedure. Further information can be found on our website here. This new procedure replicates the route that many aircraft already use, except for arrivals from the west where we have routed them further over the Bristol Channel, to reduce overflying of Weston Super Mare. The new procedures uses satellite navigation rather than ground based navigation. 

Are aircraft allowed to fly at night?

Yes. Bristol Airport operates 24 hours a day; however we recognise that the night period is a sensitive time for our local communities.

Our Night Flying Policy:

  • Restricts the number of aircraft that can operate during the night period.
  • Includes a Noise Quota System that classifies each aircraft type into a Quota Count and designates an overall limit on the sum of these Quota Counts.

The two limits above are split into the Summer Season and Winter Season,based on the period of British Summer Time.

We also have a complete ban on the scheduling of the noisiest aircraft types (given a Quota Count of 4 or above) during the night period.

Why are aircraft flying over me (easterly or westerly) when there is no wind?

The direction in which the runway is in operation is dependent on meteorological conditions. Primarily this is related to wind direction but may also be based on unsettled weather, such as thunderstorms.  Wind direction factors will be based not only on ground level wind, but also the wind at height (such as the wind at 2000ft). These higher wind conditions may not be apparent at ground level. 

I’ve been disturbed by the police helicopter/air ambulance/military flight. Who can I contact?

We sometimes received enquiries regarding aircraft movements in the region that have not operated from Bristol Airport. In these instances we recommend you contact the aircraft operator directly, or the airfield/ airport it operated from.

The police provide information on their police helicopter operations via Twitter. The Great Western Air Ambulance has contact details on their website although there are various air ambulances that operate in our region. For military aircraft you can call the Ministry of Defence on 0845 600 7580.

Can you stop light aircraft overflying my house?

While we can investigate aircraft that are based at Bristol Airport (i.e. arrive or depart from here) and in areas close the airport, we are not able to investigate aircraft that have come from other airports or airfields, as can quite often be the case for light aircraft.

Should you be disturbed by a light aircraft we are happy to check if it has operated from Bristol Airport, in which case we will look to investigate the concern in collaboration with the operator. 

If it is from another airport or airfield we are unlikely to have the relevant information on the aircraft and its operations and may not be in a position to investigate but we will do all we can to assist.

The Civil Aviation Authority provide further advice in cases where a particular aircraft is causing a concern.