Aircraft noise

Heathrow is known as a 'designated airport', which means that it is exempt from noise nuisance action by local authorities, and so Ealing has no powers to deal with noise from the aircraft there.

Enquiries and complaints

If you are disturbed by aircraft noise at Heathrow you can make a complaint on the Heathrow website.

You can also send a complaint to the Heathrow community relations team by email to or call 0800 344 844 (freephone) during office hours.

To ensure that your enquiry can be registered and investigated accurately, please ensure that you provide dates and, if possible, times when aircraft noise has disturbed you.

Aircraft routes

There are two departure routes over Ealing borough, crossing from the south west towards the north east, flying over Norwood Green, Hanwell, central Ealing and north Acton. These are known as Noise Preferential Routes (NPR) which are 3km wide swathes, allowing a 1.5km deviation on both sides from the central line. Pilots must stay within the swathe until they reach a height of 4,000 feet, after which they are directed off the route by air traffic control.

On a full easterly day there are around 160 departures passing over the borough. Easterly days occur for about 25% of the year, generally when we experience high pressure, anti-cyclonic weather systems.

Noise monitoring

Heathrow Airport is under a legal duty to monitor noise and to impose financial penalties on aircraft exceeding government limits. Infringements of noise limits incur penalties of £500 to £1,000.

The council operates an aircraft noise monitoring station in Hanwell, directly under the departure route. This includes an outdoor microphone and a computerised noise analyser. The monitor operates continuously and is programmed to detect noise events which exceed 67dB(A) for eight seconds, which is characteristic of an overflying aircraft.