Saturday 5th April saw the Air League Leading Edge and Young Air Pilots get together for the ‘Young Aviator’s Dinner’. Organised by Leading Edge Panel Member Lucie Martin, the event was for all members of both organisations and had one simple aim: a good old get together to chat, meet up with old friends, make some new friends and talk about our shared passion – a love of aviation and all things flying. Held at the Royal Air Force Club, around 100 members were present for this unique occasion and after some great food and wine we were treated to an excellent talk by Sasha Nash who is currently a QFI on the Tucano based at RAF Linton on Ouse. Sasha talked us through some of the highlights of her career to date in the RAF and there were certainly some interesting stories which captivated the audience.
Describing flying the Tornado in Afghanistan, Sasha talked us through operating the aircraft to assist troops on the ground, be that just a radio relay between ground elements to dropping precision weaponry on insurgents. Above all, she delivered some inspiring words and left the audience really inspired and motivated to pursue their aviation goals and ambitions. Next stop, and rounding off an excellent night, was the after party at Mahiki. There were certainly some sore heads in the Morning but it was certainly worthwhile. A huge thanks to Lucie Martin and all the Leading Edge Panel team – roll on next year’s event!
The March/April edition of The Air League Newsletter is now online and can be downloaded by clicking here. The Newsletter features our usual commentary on aerospace and defence and member news can be found at the end of the Newsletter.
The January/February edition of The Air League Newsletter is now online and can be downloaded by clicking here. The Newsletter features our usual commentary on aerospace and defence and member news can be found at the end of the Newsletter.
The Airports Commission’s independent review into UK airport capacity and connectivity Airports Commission’s interim report concluded that there is a need for one net additional runway to be in operation in the south east by 2030. There is likely to be a demand case for a second additional runway to be operational during the 2040s. These conclusions reflect assumptions about future demand growth, and are consistent with the Committee of Climate Change’s advice to government on meeting its legislated climate change targets.
The Air League has long argued that Heathrow is the only practicable site for the UK hub airport and while the Commission will continue to examine the Thames Estuary options, Sir Howard’s team effectively holed ‘Boris Island’ etc. below the waterline when they reported that these would cost up to £112bn. The airlines would pay for Heathrow expansion – the taxpayer would have to pick up such a tab for an Estuary option, which would make ministers blanch in the current economic climate.
The Report outlined detailed study proposals for new runways at two locations:
- Gatwick Airport
- Gatwick Airport Ltd’s proposal for a new runway to the south of the existing runway
- Heathrow Airport (two options)
- Heathrow Airport Ltd’s proposal for one new 3,500m runway to the northwest
- Heathrow Hub’s proposal to extend the existing northern runway to at least 6,000m, enabling the extended runway to operate as 2 independent runways.
The next phase of its work will see the Commission undertaking a detailed appraisal of these three options before a public consultation in autumn 2014.
The Commission has not shortlisted proposals for expansion at Stansted or Birmingham: there is likely to be a case for considering them as potential options for any second new runway by 2050. In its final report the Commission will set out its recommendations on the process for decision making on additional capacity beyond 2030.
The report endorsed recommendations that the Air League has made to improve the use of existing runway capacity, including
- an ‘optimisation strategy’ to improve the operational efficiency of UK airports and airspace, including
- airport collaborative decision making
- airspace changes supporting performance based navigation
- enhanced en-route traffic management to drive tighter adherence to schedules
- time based separation
- a package of surface transport improvements to make airports with spare capacity more attractive to airlines and passengers, including
- the enhancement of Gatwick Airport Station
- further work to develop a strategy for enhancing Gatwick’s road and rail access
- work on developing proposals to improve the rail link between London and Stansted
- work to provide rail access into Heathrow from the south
- the provision of smart ticketing facilities at airport stations
- trials at Heathrow of measures to smooth the early morning arrival schedule to minimise stacking and delays and to provide more predictable respite for local people
The Commission shrewdly recommended the establishment of an Independent Noise Authority to provide expert and impartial advice about the noise impacts of aviation and to facilitate the delivery of future improvements to airspace operations.
Overall, the Commission is to be applauded for taking a fresh, comprehensive and transparent study of the issues. The Air League takes issue with the Commission’s statement that “the UK enjoys excellent connectivity today” – a Far Eastern entrepreneur flying into Heathrow would not be able to fly-on to Inverness, Newquay, Prestwick, Humberside, Teesside or Liverpool. However, while the capacity challenge is not yet critical, the Commission is right to note that it will become so if no action is taken soon and no net additional runway is provided by 2030.
The Air League encourages the government to act on the Interim Report’s recommendations to make the best of the UK’s existing airport capacity. Without such action, there will only be adverse impacts resilience, connectivity, economic growth and passenger experience. As a global hub and economic engine for growth, UK plc. deserves nothing less.
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