Aircraft Trails – FOI Resonses

PDF Version: www.checktheevidence…

21 August 2007

FOIA reference: F0000601

Dear Mr Johnson

I refer to your email letter dated 9 August 2007, in which you ask a number of questions concerning  overflying  aircraft  in the  Derby  area.   For  convenience,  your  questions  are repeated below ; 

1          Can the CAA provide a list of flights which flew over the Derby area between

2100 and 2200 on 10/07/05

2          Can the CAA Verify that some flight paths cross at ninety degrees in the same area.

3          Can the CAA provide a list of flights over Markeaton Park, Derby between 1415 and 1645 and additionally confirm that there were at least 42 aircraft during that period.

I understand that my colleague Ian Wrathall spoke with you on 15/08/07 and clarified the dates  in your questions.  In question  1, the  correct  date  in which you  are interested  is

10/06/2005, and in question 3, the omitted date is 04/02/2007.

To begin with, however, I must highlight that the CAA, as the UK’s independent regulator of civil aviation, has responsibility  in four main areas: safety, airspace use and design, economic  regulation  and  consumer  protection.  The  CAA  is  not  directly  involved  in managing the traffic flows to and from the airports; that is the responsibility of the airports in conjunction with the relevant air traffic control organisation, for example National Air Traffic services (NATS). Therefore, the CAA is not directly involved in placing aircraft over Derby or any other area; neither does it have a remit to place any restrictions on any aerial activity over any area for environmental  reasons  alone. Thus, the CAA does not have access to the information you have requested.

It is important to note that whilst the CAA will ensure that air traffic procedures are safe and that environmental issues are considered in any airspace change proposal, it does not have legal  powers  to  place  restrictions  on  specific  aerial  activity  for  environmental  reasons. Accordingly, the CAA works  closely with the Department for Transport  (DfT), which has general  responsibility  for  aviation  policy  and  aircraft  noise  matters,  to  help  develop regulations and policies to limit the environmental effects of aircraft operations to the extent possible.  However, the DfT is only directly involved in measures to ameliorate noise at 3 designated airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.  Elsewhere, the Department expects civil  aerodrome  and  aircraft  operators  to  achieve  a  reasonable  balance  between  their legitimate needs and those of the local community.

Whilst the CAA is concerned to ensure that aircraft operations are conducted safely, the configuration of local operating procedures (e.g. departure routes and training circuits) is a matter  for  agreement   between  the  aerodrome   operator   and  the  aerodrome   users. Meanwhile, any development of an airport site would be subject to local planning authority agreement.   The  planning  consent  process  provides  a local  planning  authority with the opportunity to impose any operating conditions that it considers appropriate to the proposed development.

To specifically answer your questions, I will do so in the same number order you used :

  1. The CAA does not have access to this information and is therefore unable to provide it.
  2. The CAA is unable to confirm each specific flight, but is able to state that there are a number of routes that overfly the area in question and indeed some of them are "crossing" in various directions. Further information on these routes is detailed below.
  3. The same answer as for number 1.

 Generally speaking, routes can be established in controlled airspace as a template for flight planning  purposes. Air  traffic  controllers  are  able  to  use the  entirety  of the  controlled airspace available to them in accordance with the prevailing operational circumstances, e.g. the weather, the  runway  direction  selected for  landing  and take-off,  and the amount  of traffic; this is in accordance with the onus placed on them to be safe, expeditious and to operate the airspace efficiently.  Expanding on answer number two; the Midlands area is of course part of the "backbone" of the country and as a consequence experiences a large volume of overflying traffic traveling up and down this "spine". Specifically routes P6, T420 and N57 transit the area with their respective lower altitude limits being Flight levels (FLs)

185,  105 and 57. A  FL refers to thousands  of feet of altitude, with the last two zeroes ignored. There  is also a flight  path that  is approximately  east/west  (R3)  and its  lowest altitude is FL105. I enclose two charts that depict the lower and upper routes described. Additionally, there are two standard instrument departure (SIDs) routes (Wallasey and Trent

2P) from Nottingham East Midlands airport (NEMA) These two SIDs will be used only when the departing  aircraft  has a destination that  is to the west  or north and the wind  is an easterly, necessitating use of the easterly runway 09 at NEMA. Aircraft need to land and take off into wind and so when the wind is an easterly  (which is only 30% of the time approximately ; the prevailing wind in the UK being a westerly)) the easterly runway, 09, will be in operation.

 Consequently, it will be possible to see and hear aircraft at different places and altitudes, depending on the airspace situation at any particular time.  In^other words, aircraft flown in controlled airspace, in this case the EMA Control Zone and control area, in conformance with local air traffic control procedures and instructions, are not constrained from flying over a particular place or to published routes.  However, if an aircraft was flown contrary to these procedures or instructions, it would be a matter for the airport operator, as the owner of the procedures,  together  with  the  relevant  air  traffic  control  organisation,  and  the  aircraft operator concerned to resolve.

Overall, it remains Government policy that matters concerning aircraft noise nuisance from aerodromes should, wherever possible, be resolved locally. In support of this policy, the Government  requires «under  the  Civil  Aviation  1982,  that  aerodrome  operators  at  51 locations   provide   facilities   for   consultation,   effectively   in  the   form   of   consultative committees.   The   role   of   these   committees   is   to   oversee   the   management   and administration  of  the  aerodrome  concerned.  Committee  membership  should  comprise representation from the aerodrome,  local authority,  parish councils  and other  interested parties. Local difficulties and associated queries relating to an aerodromes operation can often be resolved through liaison with the consultative committee or through contact with the local authority’s representative on the committee. NEMA, for example, does have such a consultative committee and its contact details are;

East Midlands Airport Independent Consultative Committee

Anthea Hartshorne, Secretary, East Midlands Airport,

Building 34,

Castle Donnington, Derby, DE74 2SA Telephone:  01332 852920

Fax:  01332 810045

I have enclosed three CAA Information sheets (numbers 3,4 and 5), which may help to clarify the above points.  These sheets and others (on other aviation subjects) are available on the CAA website at:

Yours sincerely

Rick Chatfield

FolA & EIR Case Manager

Information Management Support Unit

Should you wish to make further requests under Fol, would you please use the e-form, which can be found at:

 If you have reason to appeal or complain  about any aspects of the processing  of your information request, please write or email to:

 Rick Chatfield

FOIA & EIR Case Manager Civil Aviation Authority Aviation House

Gatwick Airport South

West Sussex



Your complaint will be assigned to one of our senior appeal managers.   You will receive notification  of our  receipt  of your complaint  and provided with the  name  of the Appeal Manager.  Any complaint will be independently reviewed and a formal written response will be given to you.

If following this appeal process you are still not satisfied then you may refer the case to the Information Commissioners Office as a complaint.  Details can be found at

 Bruce Ridout

Aviation Airspace Division

Department for Transport

Zone 1/25

Great Minster House

76 Marsham Street

London SW1P 4DR

Direct Line: 020 7944 4393

Fax: 020 7944 2192

GTN No: 3533 4393



Web Site:

 22 August 2007


By e mail



Dear Andrew


Thank you for your Freedom of Information (FoI) e mail request received on 10 August 2007,  concerning aircraft movements over Derby.

You have asked the following questions:

1) Can you please provide a list of flights which travelled over the Derby area between 9pm and 10pm on 10th July 2005?

2) Can you please verify that some of these flight paths crossed at 90 approximately degrees in the same area?

3) Can you please provide a list of flights travelling over Markeaton Park Derby between 14:15 and 16:45 and verify that there were at least 42 planes during that period?


The Department for Transport does not hold information on individual aircraft movements. The requirement to monitor traffic flows of aircraft movements is the responsibility of the air navigation service provider, in this case NATS, and East Midlands Airport as the most significant airport nearest to Derby.

 As such NATS have suggested that you direct your enquiry to Jane Johnston, Head of External Communications at NATS (jane.johnston@nats.c…) and include your post code in your message. Alternatively, you may wish to contact  East Midlands Airport at environment@eastmidl….  East Midlands Airport is the first airport in Europe to offer Web Trak, a system which enables the general public to see the general location and flow of flights. The web link for Web Track is appended below.


In closing,  I should mention that both NATS and East Midlands Airport are not subject to the FoI Act. 

Yours sincerely

Bruce Ridout

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