Community Operations

Our Airspace
The airspace immediately above/around the site is controlled from Manchester Airport before aircraft pass above or away from it (in to airspace controlled from Scotland). We can only investigate and account for Air Transport Movements related to Manchester Airport; aircraft related to other aerodromes are able to obtain permission to pass through our airspace en route to their destination. Such movements are coordinated by Manchester Airport for safety but are not Manchester movements and any grievance should be addressed to the appropriate airport or aircraft operator. 

If you have an iPad you can download our free iBook 'A flying visit to Manchester Airport'; the book explains much more about the operation of our business with a mixture of film clips, diagrams and descriptive text.

Does Manchester Airport operate at night?
Manchester Airport has operated on a 24-hour basis for over 60 years. Heathrow and Gatwick Airports operate at night too and like us have a Night Noise Policy, although ours is much stricter in a number of areas. Our Night Noise Policy restricts the operations permitted so that the noise climate is much reduced from daytime levels. The Policy strikes a careful balance between the interests of our local community and the demand from our passengers to fly. For more information please see our Night Noise Policy.

Directions of our operations
Like all airports Manchester operates according to weather conditions, principally the wind direction. In order to ensure a safe takeoff and landing aircraft have to fly in to the wind. The prevailing wind direction in the UK is westerly so normally aircraft fly from northeast to southwest. In practice this means that normally aircraft land from the northeast over Stockport, Cheadle and Heald Green and takeoff towards and around Knutsford. In dual runway operations aircraft will usually land on to Runway 1 (23R) and depart from Runway 2 (23L).

When the wind direction changes, for safety reasons, our landing processes are reversed with aircraft landing from the southwest, lining up to the south of Northwich and over Knutsford and taking off towards Stockport. The wind direction and speed is measured on the ground and at higher levels and an easterly wind above ground level may determine our operating mode, as aircraft cannot descend amongst unfavourable winds. Aircraft will establish on their approach 3,000-4,000 ft above ground level and it may be the wind speed direction at these altitudes that determines our operating mode.In dual runway operations aircraft will usually land on to Runway 2 (05R) and depart from Runway 1 (05L). Easterly winds affect approximately 20% of our movements per annum in this way Runway Data Sheet .

Whenever weather conditions permit, it is our preference for aircraft to depart to the west, because this affects fewer people. This policy has been formalised as part of our Air Traffic Control procedures and in the form of a legally binding planning agreement with the Local Authorities.

Where do aircraft fly on departure?
Most departing aircraft of more than 5,700 kg maximum certificated weight (or which for any other reason cannot comply with full Instrument Flight Rules) follow a Preferred Noise Route (PNR) until they reach a certain height (called a ‘release altitude’), unless otherwise instructed by Air Traffic Control. To minimise disturbance to our local community, we have designed our noise routes to take aircraft away from built up areas wherever possible see our Runway Data Sheet.

Do departing aircraft fly outside the Preferred Noise Routes?
Some times for safety reasons Air Traffic Control will direct aircraft to fly outside the Preferred Noise Routes. This may be to fly around poor weather or to ensure seperation from other aircraft (such as Police or air ambulance aircraft) see our Runway Data Sheet and Non Standard Departure Data Sheet for more information.

Aircraft of less than 5,700 kg maximum certificated weight (such as the Police aircraft) or which for any other reason cannot comply with full Instrument Flight Rules will fly by Visual Flight Rules (VFR/Special VFR) with reference to features on the ground for their navigation. Visual Reporting Points (VRPs) are used by pilots flying VFRs to coordinate with Air Traffic Control permission to fly in to or through our controlled airspace.

Do arriving aircraft follow preferred noise routes?
No. Air Traffic Control (ATC) position and sequence aircraft on a descent pattern into the Airport from many directions relating to their point of origin. Aircraft inbound to Manchester usually follow a prescribed route known as a Standard Arrival Route (STAR) which is a series of instructions that do not constitute a ground track. Sometimes aircraft will follow their STAR to a holding stack, or, more often be directed from 50/60 nautical miles out onto a heading to intercept the Instrument Landing System (ILS).  

Firework, Sky Lantern & Balloons
Fireworks, Sky Lanterns and Toy Balloons can be dangerous to aviation. If you are organising a display or are intending to use Fireworks, Sky Lanterns or Toy Balloons close to Manchester Airport, please read this data sheet carefully Using Fireworks, Toy Balloons & Sky Lanterns near Manchester Airport, please see corrected dates for November 2014.

Air quality and air pollution
We have in place constant monitoring around the airport site see our Air Quality Data Sheet.

I live near the Airport can I apply for sound insulation?
We operate a Sound Insulation Grant Scheme for those properties most affected by aircraft noise. For more information please see Mitigation Schemes.

There are no regular or scheduled helicopter movements associated with Manchester Airport. Occasionally helicopters do call in to refuel and such movements are coordinated with Air Traffic Control. A helicopter may obtain permission to enter Manchester Airport airspace and land at or otherwise access a particular property. A helicopter may land subject to the landowners permission and so can fly low over a neighbourhood to access the landing ground. Such movements are coordinated by Manchester Airport for safety but are not Manchester movements and any grievance should be addressed to the aircraft operator or land owner.