The coalition Government was initially against a third runway at Heathrow - an expansion which was supported by the last Labour administration.
But leading Tories have, of late, called for a third runway, while London Mayor Boris Johnson and architect Lord Foster have proposed new estuary airports.
The Heathrow debate dominated Prime Minister David Cameron's Government reshuffle this week, with an anti-Heathrow expansion minister, Justine Greening, being removed from her post as Transport Secretary.
Announcing the Davies Commission in a written Parliamentary statement , Ms Greening's successor Mr McLoughlin said the commission would identify and recommend to Government "options for maintaining this country's status as an international hub for aviation".
More top news
54-year-old Paul Monk was caught as workmen were laying a marble patio around the swimming pool at his luxury villa in Alicante.
Janet Faal was left badly injured after leaving the house for only the third time in ten years.
Clear tonight with temperatures falling quickly. Light winds and lows of 5C.