Approach and departure routes

The operating concept at Zurich Airport is based on Zurich Airport's operating regulations, the German implementing regulation (DVO) and the prevailing weather conditions.

Approach routes

As soon as an aircraft nears its destination, the descent is initiated. From the airway, the aircraft is directed to the hold, which serves as a "waiting area" when there is a large volume of air traffic. From the hold, air traffic control gives instructions guiding the aircraft to the approach, which is dictated by the Instrument Landing System (ILS).

The ILS enables aircraft to land safely, even when visibility is poor. High-precision transmission systems on the ground and a flight director in the cockpit provide information throughout the final approach as to whether the aircraft is heading precisely for the runway (course information) and whether it is descending at the optimum angle (glide slope information).

Flight path monitoring

Approach and departure routes to and from Zurich Airport are configured in such a way that densely populated areas are spared from aircraft flying directly overhead wherever possible. Compliance with these low-noise flight routes is monitored with the assistance of the Airport Track And Noise Monitoring System (ATANOMS). If a flight deviates from the prescribed flight route, there must be plausible reasons for this, such as avoidance of storm clouds or instructions from air traffic control.

In cases where there is no legitimate reason, an investigation is launched and the pilot in question is requested to outline their position in writing. These investigations are often supplemented by discussions with airline representatives. If an investigation comes to an unsatisfactory conclusion, this may lead to legal proceedings with the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA). This constant analysis encourages the airlines to optimise flight paths at all times.

  • Causes and deviations from the prescribed flight path (pdf, German only)

Do you have any questions?

The staff of the Aircraft Noise Hotline will be happy to help you.

  • +41 43 816 21 31

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