Future Airspace Programme

Find out how East Midlands Airport is modernising its airspace.

Normal Aircraft Operations

We know that many people living in communities close to the airport have experienced reduced levels of disturbance from aircraft overflights during the pandemic. Now that restrictions are easing, the volume of traffic at the airport will begin to grow and with it, inevitably, will come more disturbance. We understand this may cause annoyance. Because levels of activity have been low, we know some people have found aircraft more noticeable than before and may believe there have been changes compared to pre-pandemic. This not the case. Aircraft are arriving at and departing from East Midlands Airport using the same flightpaths as before the pandemic and are operating under the same procedures.

To find out more about normal operations please see our Living Near the Airport page.

The East Midlands Airport Future Airspace Project

In February 2017 the Department for Transport published ‘Upgrading UK Airspace’. This document reviewed how modern aircraft can use new technology onboard aircraft for greater efficiency and reduced noise. The current departure routes for aircraft are based on navigation equipment on the ground. Modern aircraft can replace this method of navigation by using satellites. Satellite-based routes enable aircraft to follow the centre lines of departure routes while maintaining safety more accurately. You can find out more about why Airspace change is needed by following this link to a video.

The CAA consulted on a process for airports to work with communities when they modernise their airspace. This process was introduced in 2017 (and was last amended in March 2021), in a document called CAP1616, this sets out the detailed seven stage process that East Midlands Airport must follow. You can read and/or download the latest version of CAP1616.

Stage 1 Define

Stage 1 of the modernisation involves two Steps:

  • Step 1A requires an airport to issue a Statement of Need to the CAA to approve the start of a change process. East Midlands Airport did this in March 2019 and the CAA gave approval for East Midlands Airport to begin the change process following the process set out in CAP 1616. The whole process was expected to take two years followed by a review process one year after implementation but was paused for over a year because of the pandemic.

  • Step 1B was an opportunity for the community and industry to help us to form Design Principles. We produced an information pack and promoted this widely. You can see the consultation document ‘Be part of the Conversation’ here and it is also available in single colour here. We met with elected representatives, held Focus Groups (independently facilitated by YouGov), and provided opportunities to discuss the process face-to-face at three Outreach sessions. Comments had to be returned to the East Midlands Airport Future Airspace Team, through a web portal, by Monday 30th September 2019.

We evaluated the feedback from the Focus Groups and members of the public (provided through the web portal) and produced a set of eleven draft Design Principles. These proposed Design Principles were sent to the CAA in a report for evaluation. You can read the full report here, a printable here (or in single colour here) or on the CAA web site.

The CAA reviewed our report and Proposed Design Principles and in January 2020 gave their approval for East Midlands Airport to move to Stage 2 of the CAP1616 process. It was at this point that the East Midlands Airport Future Airspace programme was paused. The outputs from Stage 1 were a Statement of Need in Step 1A and a set of eleven Design Principles in Step 1B -full colour summary document (or we have a single colour version).

Stage 2 Develop and Assess

In January 2022 we resumed the East Midlands Airport Future Airspace programme and have now started Stage 2. We have appointed airspace designers to develop flight path options. Stage 2, like Stage 1, is not a consultation, but we are keen to provide an opportunity for the community and industry to input into the process and help us to ‘Develop and Assess’. We plan to test the first outputs from our airspace designers with the stakeholders we engaged with during Step 1B of Stage 1. We will seek feedback to ensure that we have developed the envelopes with the Step 1A Statement of Need and Step 1B Design Principles (single colour version) in mind. We will do this by testing the comprehension of the rationale for designs, and the design envelopes, with our stakeholders.

Keeping in touch

We are following the seven-stage process outlined in CAP1616. We are currently in the process of achieving Stage 2; this Stage (like Stage 1) is not a consultation. The engagement process we followed to develop Proposed Design Principles, was in line with the CAP1616 process but exceeded the minimum requirements set out. In Stage 2 we are keen to provide an opportunity for the community and industry to input into the process and help us to ‘Develop and Assess’ and we will engage with the stakeholders we engaged with during Step 1B of Stage 1. Updates on our progress will continue to be made widely available in the community and through councils. During Stage 3 ‘Consult’ we will enter a full-scale Consultation on any proposed changes. Please return to this page to see content changes as we move through the seven-stage process outlined in CAP1616.

If you would like us to contact, you directly please email futureairspace@eastmidlandsairport.com with the following information and we will add you to our mailing list:

  • Your name

  • Your postcode (to help us direct bespoke information to you)

  • Your email address

We will update at significant stages of the project such as ‘Gateways’ and when we commence full-scale consultation in Stage 3. There may be long periods of time when you receive nothing from us. Your information will be used solely for the purpose of corresponding with you about Future Airspace and all details will be destroyed at the end of the consultation period.