The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has today published the conclusions of its review of the Route 4 departure from Gatwick Airport.

In 2013 Gatwick Airport sought the CAA's approval to implement changes to all nine of its departure routes. These changes were approved in August 2013, following consultation carried out by the airport.

This move represents a change from the old ground-based navigation to the improved navigational capabilities associated with satellite-based systems.

Whenever airspace changes are implemented, the CAA conducts a post implementation review to assess whether the anticipated impacts and benefits have met the desired expectations.

In December 2015 we announced the conclusion of our post implementation review, which found that Route 4 had not delivered the aim of the airspace change and needed to be modified to an acceptable standard. Route 4 departs from the westerly runway and then turns right to head east to route north of the airport.

Since then Gatwick Airport has modified Route 4. The CAA has now reviewed this route, which has included a comprehensive study of flight paths flown and an assessment of the significant amount of feedback received from the general public.

In conclusion, the CAA has decided that the modified Route 4 has delivered the aim of the airspace change to an acceptable standard and this change will now be made permanent.

The CAA recognises airspace changes can have an impact on communities and in making this decision, has asked Gatwick Airport to give a number of undertakings including:

  • To investigate the potential of meaningful respite, the airport will consider options for additional Route 4 departure designs, from the points where the route heads east.
  • To consider the potential for obtaining respite by alternating or switching a proportion of Route 4 departures onto another route.

Full list of undertakings can be found on page 10 of the report.

Gatwick Airport has been informed of our conclusions and will provide updates on the above undertakings on their website.

Stuart Lindsey, Airspace Regulation Manager at the CAA, said: “We have been reviewing data on Route 4 and considering in detail the feedback received from local communities to assess whether this route is now performing as required by us. We are satisfied the modified Route 4 is achieving this performance and it will therefore remain in place.

“We absolutely understand that airspace changes can impact communities and that aircraft noise can disturb many people.

“As we have done throughout this entire review, we will continue to consider the environmental impact of all our airspace decisions and have called on the aviation industry and other decision-makers to be much more ambitious in confronting aviation's environmental challenges.”

Media enquiries

For more information, please email the CAA Press Office at, or call 020 7453 6030. You can follow the CAA on Twitter at  @UK_CAA

Notes to editors

To read the CAA's full report relating to Gatwick Route 4 go to CAA conclusion to Route 4

For more information about airspace changes at Gatwick Airport since 2013 go to Changes to Gatwick Departures.

UK airspace is a very limited and important part of our national transport infrastructure but the basic structure of the UK's airspace was developed over forty years ago. Since then there have been huge changes, including a hundred fold increase in demand for aviation.

Throughout Europe there is a move to simplify and harmonise the way airspace and air traffic control is used through the Single European Sky project. In the UK and Ireland we're meeting those and other issues through the Future Airspace Strategy (FAS), which sets out a plan to modernise airspace by 2020. You can see more information about the Future Airspace Strategy.