PPRuNe Forums

PPRuNe Forums (https://www.pprune.org/)
-   Spectators Balcony (Spotters Corner) (https://www.pprune.org/spectators-balcony-spotters-corner-52/)
-   -   Why do Heathrow aircraft go over my house? (https://www.pprune.org/spectators-balcony-spotters-corner/453851-why-do-heathrow-aircraft-go-over-my-house.html)

Don Andolini 7th Jun 2011 19:49

Why do Heathrow aircraft go over my house?
I live in Bromley SE London and I'm wondering, why do the heathrow-bound aircraft coming from the west, fly in a large U shape over my house?? I'm roughly 25 miles east of the airport itself, and it seems to me to be a bit of a large and slightly unnecessary detour for the aircraft to make?

If anyone could give me any info on this, it would be much appreciated


JSCL 7th Jun 2011 19:54

Two reasons. They could have been given approach from the east and guidance to land from the east or they are doingna go around waiting for a landing slot.

Crazy Voyager 7th Jun 2011 20:30

You're pretty much south of London city right?

If so it could be the establishing turn that you see. In other words the turn onto the ILS (instrument landing system) to establish the approach for one of the westerly runways.

That would be my guess looking at Bromley on a map and trying to estimate where the Heathrow RMA is. I'm sure a more proficient answer will come with time though, but perhaps my guess is a start anyway :p

HEATHROW DIRECTOR 7th Jun 2011 21:41

OK.. There are four holding areas for Heathrow, two to the north and two to the south. The standard procedure for a landing aircraft is to fly a "circuit", which consists of "downwind", where the aircraft flies away from the field, usually parallel to the landing runway, to lose height, next is the "base leg" when the aircraft turns so that it is flying at 90 degrees to the runway heading. Last of all is final approach, when the aircraft is flying straight towards the runway.

Light aircraft can accomplish all this in a mile or two, but larger aircraft have to be properly lined up on final approach from some distance out.

OK... next, consider that major airports are extremely busy so the "circuit" may extend for some miles as individual aircraft follow the one ahead. If it is quiet, the final approach may be only 8 miles long but if it's very busy it may extend to 15-20 miles out.

Major airfield have radar controllers directing the traffic a) to keep it safe and b) to ensure the maximum landing rate to avoid undue delays. The controllers direct the aircraft approximately to the "circuit" described above, although the shape of the circuit may vary somewhat from basics. The two holding areas to the south are Biggin and Ockham. When it is time to start their approach, aircraft are told to leave the holding areas on headings to take them into the circuit. To give controllers maximum flexibility, aircraft from Biggin are usually taken off on a westerly heading whilst those from Ockham leave on roughly an easterly heading. The Biggin aircraft are then turned on to the downwind heading to fit into traffic from Ockham, producing a stream on roughly an easterly heading over the towns of Sutton, Croydon and maybe Bromley before they turn north on the base leg. At the same time, traffic from the holding areas north of Heathrow is being directed similarly on the north side of the field. The two downwind streams are then knitted together as they are turned on to final approach.

There is very much more to it than that, but they are the basics. The radar controllers for Heathrow are located at Swanwick on the south coast and they have control over the whole of the approach sector so they can direct pilots onto various heading to provide separation from other aircraft whilst maintaining the steady landing stream.

Phileas Fogg 7th Jun 2011 21:45

And because there's a beacon at Biggin Hill :)

HEATHROW DIRECTOR 8th Jun 2011 07:34

Phileas Fogg.. Once they are in the "circuit" the location of the beacons is irrelevant. He's jusr as likely seeing traffic from OCK.

Skipness.. I refer you to my earlier post.

PhineasC 8th Jun 2011 08:39

Why aircraft sometimes fly over my house is what started my interest, there are some great websites out there, I use flightaware, if you look at:

FlightAware > Swiss (LX) #352 Flight Tracker

and hit the Google Earth button you can see a detailed map of the path a plane takes.

I guess the plane hits the ILS around Dulwich and lines up for the righthand runway around Battersea

HEATHROW DIRECTOR 8th Jun 2011 14:03

The point at which it intercepts the ILS is immediately before it turns on to it. The turn at Dulwich was the "closing heading" given by the radar controller. Didn't see the Google option...?

PhineasC 8th Jun 2011 15:38

On the right, on the status row at the end there is a button <Google Earth> this downloads a kml file, which the default format for google earth, it should open with Google Earth if it is installed

HEATHROW DIRECTOR 8th Jun 2011 18:39

I must be crackers - no sign of Google on the page I see; anyone else found it? I have Google Earth installed and use it extensively.

treadigraph 8th Jun 2011 19:05

Took me a while to spot it HD, about two thirds of the way down to the right of the map you should see "status" and there is a "google earth" button to the far right of that.

HEATHROW DIRECTOR 8th Jun 2011 19:51

OK, I've got "Status" 2/3 of the way down the map. To the right is the word "Scheduled" and the line is then blank to the edge of the page!

Not to worry. I have SBS but I was just a little curious..

EGLF_base 8th Jun 2011 20:20


if you select a previous sector for the flight, i.e one that has already operated the google earth icon appears. following the link shows tomorrows flights at the top first.

PPRuNe Pop 8th Jun 2011 22:21

In the house I have lived in for the past 19 years I rarely now hear aircraft that much (Sutton) the last one that always made its prescence felt was Concorde - in the house I previously lived in (1.5nm NNW from 'Croydon Airport') I always heard turbo props, noisy jets etc., Now the din is noisy helos - but not many. The airways are MUCH quieter these days.

However, in the summer, as I am on the SE corner of the Lon TMA, the occasional spitfire and others pass, transiting to air shows. Even SVFR's are few and far between :{

Phileas Fogg 8th Jun 2011 22:59

Does the 194 bus still run to 'Croydon Airport'?

Aaaah, childhood memories, cycling across Hayes Common to Biggin Hill, before that living in the Groundsman's bungalow (aged circa 3 till 7) on Bromley Cricket Club, Plaistow Lane .... before that standing on the centre court at Wimbledon ..... but that's going back to my grandfather, moreso than my father, days :)

Doors to Automatic 8th Jun 2011 23:11

Heathrow Director - do you know the rough total distribution of arrivals over the four beacons? Is it 25% each or are some more busy than others over the course of a day. I am obviously aware that at certain times some are busier than others e.g. Lambourne first thing in the morning.

treadigraph 8th Jun 2011 23:24

Alas, the 194 now terminates at West Croydon Bus Station.

The 119 thunders mightily from Bromley through central Croydon to "Purley Way Colonnades" - apparently a youth-focused entertainment complex - where the Gipsy Moth pub can be found on the opposite side of Purley Way to the airport terminal. Such is progress...

Lucky to see the odd Spitfire over our little corner of the TMA Pop, I once saw the Lancaster paying a courtesy call to the Croydon Airport memorial, and an Avenger and Sea Fury formating their way to the west on another ocassion...

Quite a few light aircraft squeeze between the corner of the TMA and the gliding activity at Kenley, but I mostly see aircraft westbound off the hold at Biggin Hill and on the eastern leg towards Bromley as described by HD above. And the departures on a Dover 21 or 22 SID? Seem to recall that name from the far off days listening to an airband...

Phileas Fogg 8th Jun 2011 23:57


When I were a lad the 194 ran from Croydon Airport to Forest Hill, the 194a (nearest to my house) ran from Thornton Heath to Beckenham Junction (sometimes terminating at Monks Orchard) and the 194b, I can't recall where that started off but it terminated on Shrublands Estate, in those days the 119 was Bromley South or North Station to West Croydon, there was a 119a (Sunday Service) also but my brain cells are deficient meanwhile there was a 194c sevice that only operated on Sundays.

Then the baskets changed to one man buses, the 166 from Beckenham Junction to Chipstead Valley however all adventure was lost ... one could no longer jump from an open rear plartorm as the bus would go around a corner :)

Gonzo 9th Jun 2011 06:58


Off the top of my head, LAM accounts for about 35% of inbounds, with the remaining holds in the low twenties.

jackieofalltrades 9th Jun 2011 14:14

Like Gonzo says, LAM is by far the busier of the 4 holds. Depending on the location of the North Atlantic tracks, BOV will usually have more traffic than OCK, but obviously that varies during the day too. BIG typically has the least amount of traffic of the four holds, although it too can get very busy at times, especially if traffic is stack-swapped from LAM or OCK to it.

All times are GMT. The time now is 21:15.

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.