Topic Author
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Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:28 am

Question On London Airport Departure Routes

Sat Dec 01, 2012 11:02 pm

Hello, all.
I am a plane loving photographer with a question. While in London a few weeks ago, I was shooting in the Borough of Southwark, along Borough High Street. As I was shooting up at The Shard from an entrance to the London Bridge Tube Station, I noticed several large 4-engine airliners climbing just over the building. They were on a trajectory that appeared parallel to Borough High Street and the direction of climb-out was from the Thames -- i.e., climbing away from central London.

As I have one image I'm very fond of, I would like to be able to caption it to indicate some specifics as to departure vectors.

If anyone is familiar with this location, I'd appreciate if you might address my questions:
1. May I assume, as Gatwick is south of the city, that these flights over the Shard would have to be originating at LHR?
2. If so, if you are familiar with LHR's departure routes, can you identify the one these airliners would be following as they climb over the Shard in the direction I've described?

Thanks so much for any assistance.
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Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:12 pm

RE: Question On London Airport Departure Routes

Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:24 pm

Hi Lovethe Electra,

If the aircraft were flying in a South Easterly direction then they were probably flying the departure towards Biggin Hill, Detford and Dover.

Here is a number of SIDS that "MAY" relate to the direction they were flying towards. For Detford : DET1J, 1K, 2F, 2G, and for Dover DVR4G, 5F 6J.

Of course the use of particular SID I have mentioned all depends on which departure runway was in use on the day in question.

You will see aircraft fly over London City when approaching to land on runway 027L and 027R, but takeoffs flying directly over the City from runway 09R seems unusual, but still there is always London City Airport, but they are Regional Airliners, and again they tend to turn before getting near the CBD or West End of the City as part of noise abatement procedures.

My gut feeling is that you in fact were taking pictures of aircraft on approach to London Heathrow's runway 027L or 027R. They would have selected a low flap setting by that stage and landing gear would still be up as they flew over the city which would still give the appearance of being in a "Take Off " departure mode, although on approach they would be flying much slower.

The STARS would include approaches from Lambourne in the North to Biggin Hill and Ockham from the South.

Hope this helps.

[Edited 2012-12-03 14:41:53]

[Edited 2012-12-03 14:42:26]
Topic Author
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:28 am

RE: Question On London Airport Departure Routes

Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:05 pm

Thanks, CaptainKramer!

Nice to know even a slightly obtuse first post can find expert guidance on this site. I appreciate all the detail you provided.

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Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2007 6:13 am

RE: Question On London Airport Departure Routes

Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:52 pm

From your description, I'd say that the Captain is correct, and that these aircraft were landing at Heathrow, I've often watched them from my hotel in Canary Wharf when I stay in London. Hope that you enjoyed your visit to our great capital city!

Topic Author
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Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:28 am

RE: Question On London Airport Departure Routes

Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:43 am

Hello Alex and thanks for adding your answer to my conundrum over the direction of those airliners. And yes I did enjoy my visit to London (as did my cameras!). What a vibrant city - friendly, too. Second early November visit in two years and can't get enough.
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RE: Question On London Airport Departure Routes

Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:23 pm

DET1J/K are Detling not Detford.
EOS1D4, 7D, 30D, 100-400/4.5-5.6 L IS USM, 70-200/2.8 L IS2 USM, 17-40 f4 L USM, 24-105 f4 L IS USM, 85 f1.8 USM

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