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Frequently asked questions

We have collected a number of frequently asked questions from neighbours, and we give the answers below.

You can ask your questions about the activities at and around Rotterdam The Hague Airport via buren@rtha.com.

There aren’t any night flights, right?

I would like to know who took off last night around 04:00. It made so much noise that we could not go back to sleep after that. Bothersome, because we both have busy jobs that require a great deal of concentration. I thought that there were no night flights from Rotterdam The Hague Airport?

It is a common misunderstanding that Rotterdam The Hague Airport does not have any night flights. Rotterdam The Hague Airport is open 24 hours per day and 365 days per year for air traffic, and has available day and night, among other things, traffic controllers, security and airport fire services. There are night regulations applicable between 23:00 and 07:00, under which not all the traffic that flies during the day is also welcome at night.

The flight that disturbed you was an ambulance flight, and as far as we can determine, it concerned the collection of a donor organ from Vienna. Such flights, for the benefit of organ transplants, are of course very time-sensitive because organs are only usable for transplants for a very limited time. Road transportation, given the distance, was not an option. It also happens regularly that such flights occur to/from Rotterdam The Hague Airport. These flights can thus also be carried out at night.

Furthermore, the night regulations have a number of other waivers, of which the most important are:

  • Delayed flights until 01:00;
  • Business flights (aircraft with fewer than 20 seats);
  • Ambulance flights and trauma helicopters;
  • Military and governmental flights;
  • Police and Coast Guard flights;
  • Aircraft with emergencies (1st contingency airport for Schiphol).

The total number of flights between 23:00 and 07:00 varies by year between roughly 500 and 950 flights per year. Most of these take place in the edges of the night regulations, between 23:00 and 00:00 and between 06:00 and 07:00. Because the trauma helicopter (which is stationed at Rotterdam The Hague Airport) has also been utilised at night since the middle of February of this year, the number may turn out to be higher.

Of course we offer you our sincere apology for the fact that the flight mentioned disrupted your well-deserved rest.

What are the four red lights next to the runway for?

At the start of the evening, around 17:52, I was biking along the Bovendijk where the runway lighting is located. This was off, but a row of red lights were on next to the runway. Then a large business jet flew in from the direction of Waddinxveen-Bleiswijk and, despite the red lights, this jet went ahead and landed. Is this normal? Is safety for your passengers and neighbours in order? Normally, this lighting is used when the arrivals come from the other direction. I am very interested in your response.

Thank you for your attentiveness, but I can assure you that the safety of our passengers and neighbours is very much in order, despite the landing with red lights. Rotterdam The Hague Airport has one take-off and landing strip available, which is called, depending on the direction used, runway 06 or runway 24. On both sides, there is an ILS (Instrument Landing System) and there is approach lighting. In addition, the runway is also equipped with edge lighting, centreline lighting and end-of-runway lighting (a row of red lights at the end).

At about 300 metres past the start of the runway on the left-hand side next to the runway (both on the runway 06 side and on the runway 24 side), there is a set of four red lights. These lights make up part of the PAPI, which is short for Precision Approach Path Indicator. This is a visual tool for the pilot to see whether he or she is coming in at the right angle. If the aircraft is too high, then the pilot sees three white and one red light or even four white lights. If the aircraft is too low, then the pilot sees three red lights and one white light or perhaps even four red lights.

With the help of the PAPI, the pilot can visually see the correct angle of descent. In addition, he or she can also see that on the instruments when making use of the Instrument Landing System. The PAPI is a very precise tool that can be used day and night and is visible from a distance of up to 10 km (with good visibility). The PAPI can be on even if the runway lighting is off. In practice, the PAPI is on for the greatest part of the day. Because when bicycling you would – as an aircraft – be far too low, you always see the four red lights. You thus have absolutely nothing to worry about, everything is functioning properly.

Have the flight paths recently changed?

As residents of Pijnacker (Park Berkenoord), we have notice many more aircraft flying over our house in recent months than in the past. Have the flight paths been changed, or does this have to do with the weather conditions? Or is there another cause? This question comes more out of curiosity than any real complaint about serious bother.

The flight paths to and from Rotterdam The Hague Airport have not changed. What could be a cause requires some explanation. Our airport has a noise zone within which a certain amount of flight traffic fits. In the calculation of the noise zoning, a starting point is the fact that 67% of the landings take place on runway 24 (coming from the direction of Lansingerland) and 33% on runway 06 (from the direction of Schiedam). For take-offs, the same percentages apply, so 67% of the aircraft take off from runway 24 towards Schiedam and 33% take off from runway 06 towards Lansingerland. Aircraft must in principle always land and take off against the wind, and the percentages given are based on long-term meteorological annual averages.

For the management of the noise zoning, the Inspectorate for Verkeer & Waterstaat (Traffic & Water Management) checks our actual flight paths used with the help of radar data. Because in the spring we had a prevailing easterly wind, there were relatively a lot of take-offs and landings on runway 06, and the percentage at one point was nearly 60 to 40 instead of the theoretical 33 to 67, with the result that there threatened to be a violation of the noise zoning in the west if the situation continued.

For these reasons, we have agreed on a management measure with air traffic control since the beginning of June, with which runway 24 is the preferred landing strip when the wind permits. Therefore, over recent months, there have been more landing aircraft in your area than there were at the beginning of the year. As it looks now, the management measure will be withdrawn in the coming days.

What is intended with the new starting grid for the aircraft?

In the newspaper, I read a piece about the new starting grid for the aircraft. Can you tell me a bit more about this?

In January 2011, the then-Rotterdam alderman Jeannette Baljeu (Haven, Verkeer en Regionale Economie; Port, Traffic and Regional Economy) implemented a modified starting grid for aircraft on ‘runway 24’, on the eastern side of Rotterdam The Hague Airport. This modified procedure for the ‘lining up’ of aircraft (stopping at the position where the last checks before departure will be carried out) provided further improvements to the noise situation in Schiebroek. The neighbourhood was thus largely removed from the effect area of ground noise of taxiing aircraft. This effect area has now been moved to the airport grounds.

Just before the actual start of an aircraft on the take-off runway, the pilot carries out the last checks in the cockpit. In the original situation, these checks were carried out from a stopped position with which the back of the aircraft was pointed towards Schiebroek. The taxiing from the start position to the runway was notable in a number of Schiebroek streets, such as Lindesingel and Adrianalaan. The modified procedure has aircraft stop before a turn in the taxiing route, so that the ground noise from the taxiing route is directed across the airport grounds.