Aircraft Noise over SE23 [2017-2018]


yes so no City flights for our area today, both City and Heathrow moved overnight from easterly to westerly operations, and we experience the early morning wakeup courtesy of Heathrow.

a local Ordnance Survey map will give detail, but this online topographical map of London is a really nice resource and is probably accurate enough for your purposes - will give you a height for any point you click on.

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Point of order.

Does Forest Hill actually exist as a geographic feature?

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do you mean is there a hill actually called ‘Forest Hill’? I don’t know of one…

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If the wind is westerly, which is prevailing, then approaches to LHR arrive from the East. The route changes so that it doesn’t impact the same areas all the time.

Having said that, there are days when we have LHR and LCY flights over Honor Oak! The Heathrow flights are turning at this point so that also makes them a bit noisier.

One issue that is interesting from this is the 2000ft approach. I can see how a separation is needed but am wondering now why by so much. Planes routinely pass each other vertically by 500ft. If the City approach was raised to 3000ft then this would significantly reduce noise especially from the prop planes. Not that I think it is excessive round here - you should try west London!


What do you call the hill that the Horniman sits on?


If planes are going over FH at 3000 ft, (instead of 2000) they would have a much steeper descent later as they come in to land. I suspect (but don’t know), that steeper descents are noisier in the locality of the airport, and are probably more dangerous, more difficult, less fuel efficient, and not as comfortable for passengers. Flight paths, and descents are very much a compromise of many different factors.
When planes take off from UK airports they generally ascend quite steeply, to reduce the noise pollution below. a long ascent is much more fuel efficient than a short steep one, but then flight at constant altitude is more efficient than rising or falling, so the quicker the plane is at height the better. Obviously all this, and many other factors taken into consideration.


Forest Hill is ‘a modern and artificial name, not in use until the 1790s’ It does not refer to an actual hill. It was originally a name given to the houses on the west side of Honor Oak Road. Only in after the 1840s did the name spread southward until, eventually, it covered not only London Road and Dartmouth Road, but the whole suburb .See John Coulter, ‘Sydenham and Forest Hill Past’, p.61

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Agreed with all of that but they all must come down to the ground at some point! The actual final descent to the runway is clearly not happening over our area anyway, so 2000ft could be arbitrary but as you say more likely is considered. Just wondered about the reasoning.


Agreed. So what do you call the hill that the Horniman sits on?


‘Innominate Hill’?


I call the hill that the Horniman Museum sits on Horniman Hill.


Just to throw in a slightly controversial view here: I use Heathrow and City fairly frequently and I assume most people also do when they go on holiday. It’s like people complaining about pollution, except when they drive their diesels in town. if you live in London and fly, then you really have to accept that other people will also be doing it while you’re living under it. there’s really no escaping it.

Planes are getting much quieter and fuel efficient, and diesels are slowly on their way out. Not much you can do about it in the mean time.


London is about 1,500 km² in area. LHR/LCY flight paths probably only fly over a very small percentage of that. So when choosing a place to live in London it does seem a bit reasonable to expect that your house remain relatively clear of flight paths if they had not been underneath one previously. Or if there is to be a substantial change that there would be consultation on the matter.

Or the British government could be brave and create a new London hub airport with minimal impact to homes. But that’s another topic.


@clausy , I agree in part. Except that when I chose to buy my house, it wasn’t under a flight path.

But without any consultation, I’m now expected to just suck up 17,000 planes per year flying immediately overhead which has potential to impact the value of my home.

The airlines and airports are benefitting from increased capacity but are getting away Scot-free in terms of impact to others. Shouldn’t they have to pay some form of compensation for retrofitting noise proofing or paying for the reduction in property value?


The concentrated flight paths are not a way of sharing the pain, they allocate ALL the flights to rigid corridors so that ALL flights fly over exactly the same houses. No variation.

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I’m not a pilot but I’m fairly sure that air corridors are there for safety reasons. If everything was random there’d be more danger of a mid air collision.

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No-one is suggesting random airspace. With rigid corridors, there’s a single 100m wide channel down which all flights go causing everyone under it to bear all the flights.

Staggering them so there are three or four 100m corridors that are used in rotation for a few hours at a time means that 4 times as many people share a quarter of the pain but get respite the rest of the time.

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I see a lot of planes going over, and I don’t really mind.

But then sometimes there will be one that makes a sudden loud droning noise, dropping in pitch over a few seconds.

Does anyone know what causes that? Is it the flaps being deployed? Or some kind of manoeuvre?


We’ve got the London City incoming back again now. Wind looks changeable over the next few days. If the BBC forecast is reliable, and I’ve understood how the fight patterns work, we’ll have the aircraft overhead tonight, not tomorrow, but back with us Sunday. Looks like an abrupt change in the middle of Monday.

This evening’s traffic has a slightly different pattern - the LCY flights are flying lower, and we also have Heathrow incoming flights - more directly overhead than usual - at 5,000.


The pattern of both LCY and LHR overflying Forest Hill continuing: often at the same time, one at 5,000 and the other around 1,700.