The Brussels high court has swept aside four years of government policy by ruling that the noise abatement practice of routeing night time flights over a narrow corridor is illegal. The court ruled all Belgian citizens should share the environmental noise burden, and has ordered Belgium's federal government to devise new take-off procedures within 60 days, spreading aircraft movements over the Brussels area both day and night.

The ruling brings to an end a battle which began in 1999 when the then transport minister instigated a narrow night-time corridor that required aircraft to bank right and left during take-off and circumnavigate the city in a wide circle.

Residents north of the city and under the corridor have since been protesting and have filed a lawsuit against the minister, the federal government, the airport operator and the air traffic control agency.

Belgium's prime minister Guy Verhofstadt recently proposed his own compromise, maintaining the corridor at night, but creating several take-off routes around Brussels, but this plan will also be scrapped.

Source: Flight International