Air chiefs deny low flying planes claim

AIR traffic bosses today rejected claims that passenger jets are flying lower over parts of Suffolk because they have no need to gain height travelling between near European airports.

AIR traffic bosses today rejected claims that passenger jets are flying lower over parts of Suffolk because they have no need to gain height travelling between near European airports.

There has been growing concern flights are unnecessarily low - their noise wrecking the peace and tranquillity of the county.

Planes should generally start to descend around 30 miles from an airport, but observers have been concerned at how low some planes have been flying over Felixstowe - they are permitted to fly as low as 5,500ft - and believe it is because aircraft travelling between Stansted and European airports have no need to gain height.

But air experts say this is not the case at all - and there are a range of reasons, including safety, management of airspace, reducing noise and conserving fuel, why planes are kept as high as possible until they need to descend.

Air management company NATS said on take-off planes climb to cruising levels between 10,000ft and 40,000ft.

“Aircraft generally fly as high as they are able because this uses less fuel, descending at the last possible moment,” said a NATS spokesman.

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“However, once inbound to an airport they are constrained by the need to achieve a safe and stable configuration for landing.”

Planes gently descend to around 3,000ft by the time they are ten miles from the airport, then to 1,000ft three miles out.

Air traffic controllers are now using a method called continuous descent approaches, where planes descend steadily, rather than a “stepped method” coming down to different levels in steps, which uses more fuel and generates more noise.

Are you fed up of noisy planes flying over Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk