Any new runways in the southeast of England should be built at existing airports and could be achieved without further misery for local people, the head of National Air Traffic Services (Nats) claims.
Chief executive Richard Deakin says noise disruption for residents living under the Heathrow flight path could be reduced if aircraft came in to land at a steeper angle.
The height of aircraft passing over some London suburbs could double under such an initiative.
Aircraft currently descend into the airport at an angle of 3 degrees while flying at about 1,600ft as they pass over Richmond.
Nats is working on the possibility of increasing the approach angle to 5.5 degrees, meaning aircraft would pass over at 3,000ft, reducing noise.
Deakin, who is to give evidence to a select committee of MPs today, said Nats hopes to discuss the idea with the Davies Commission which is reviewing UK airport capacity, the Sunday Times reported.
“When people talk about additional runways at Heathrow they just assume it’s more of the same,” he was reported as saying.