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Airspace & Operations

Our Airspace

The airspace immediately above/around the site is controlled from Manchester Airport. As aircraft pass above or away from this airspace they are controlled from the Prestwick Air Traffic Control Centre in Scotland.

Aircraft related to other aerodromes are able to obtain permission to pass through our airspace en route to their destination. Such movements are co-ordinated from the Manchester Airport Tower, for safety, but are not Manchester movements.

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 into 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.

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.


Directions of our Operations
Does Manchester Airport Operate at Night?

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.

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.

Where do Aircraft Fly on Departure?
Do Departing Aircraft Fly Outside the Preferred Noise Routes?

Do Departing Aircraft Fly Outside the Preferred Noise Routes?

Sometimes 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).  

Do Arriving Aircraft Follow Preferred Noise Routes?


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. 

Drones, Fireworks, Sky Lanterns and Balloons

Drones, fireworks, sky lanterns and toy balloons can be dangerous to aviation. If you are intending to pilot a drone, organising a display or are intending to use fireworks, sky lanterns or toy balloons close to Manchester Airport, please read the following data sheet carefully.

Drones, Fireworks, Sky Lanterns & Balloons
Airport-Related Emissions

Airport-Related Emissions

We often hear the terms 'emissions', 'air quality' and 'climate change' - whether on the news, in documentaries or on the internet. But what do they mean for you and Manchester Airport?

I live near the Airport, Can I Apply for Sound Insulation?

I Live Close to the Approach Path and I Think Aircraft May Have Damaged My Roof?

We operate a Sound Insulation Grant Scheme for those properties most affected by aircraft noise and a ‘Vortex Scheme’ for those properties affected by aircraft vortices.

I live near the Airport can I apply for sound insulation?

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