Tel: 020 7248 2227 RSS FeedRSS feed

“Operational freedoms” trial at Heathrow to be extended by 6 months to March 2013

The trial that was originally planned for three months over the summer from 1st July is now to be extended to March 2013.  It also looks as if there will be more early morning landings between 0500 and 0600 in exchange for fewer between 0430 and 0500. Theresa Villiers’ statement says: “Aircraft scheduled to arrive after 0600 will be permitted to land between 0530 and 0600 provided that the same number of flights scheduled to arrive between 0430 and 0500 are rescheduled to after 0500. This is expected to delay the onset of noise disturbance to local communities in the early morning period and enhance the resilience of the schedule”.  Also departing aircraft may be re-directed (radar vectored) by air traffic control from their normal routes of departure. And the cap on the more flexible use of dual arrivals allowed as part of the trial will be raised from 6 to 12 per hour.



The Heathrow Airport webpage about the trials is at  Operational Freedoms Trials

.

Operational freedoms at Heathrow Airport

Delivered by: The Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP
Publisher: Department for Transport
Delivered date:  15 May 2012
Type: Written statement
Mode/topic: AviationAirport

The Minister of State for Transport (Theresa Villiers): My statement of 14 July 2011 (Column 55WS) announced a phased trial of operational freedoms at Heathrow Airport to gather evidence in relation to the greater use of tactical measures, in defined and limited circumstances, to prevent or mitigate disruption and to facilitate recovery. The trial is run by BAA, the airport operator, with oversight provided by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the independent aviation regulator.

These measures are consistent with the Government’s commitment to runway alternation at Heathrow. I would also emphasise that the trial will not increase the number of flights at Heathrow which remains capped at current levels.

Phase one of the trial ran from 1 November 2011 until 29 February 2012. An interim report on the first two months of phase one was published by the CAA on 21 February 2012 . The CAA has today published its final report on phase one, alongside a report by BAA, assessing the impact on operations at the airport and on communities around Heathrow.

The CAA’s report is encouraging about the benefits of the measures trialled so far, but suggests that more detailed data and analysis is required from phase two to draw definite conclusions on these and the impacts on local communities.

The CAA report concluded BAA ran phase one of the trial within the parameters agreed with Government and generally collected and published data for analysing the trial in an appropriate and transparent manner. The CAA noted that the broad spectrum of interested parties, and the technical nature of the measures trialled, made successful engagement with local communities challenging; and they made suggestions for improvement.

The report also accepted BAA’s analysis that phase one of the trial recorded:

  • dual arrivals were deployed for 3.2% of westerly arrivals at the airport (1802 out of 56260 arrivals); an average increase of 13 de-alternated flights each day on westerly arrivals, from 21 to 34 per day;
  • dual departures were deployed for 0.07% of westerly departures at the airport (38 out of 55860 departures);
  • operational improvements in relation to arrival punctuality and delay, stacking (under specific circumstances) and taxi times following arrival;
  • A large increase in complaints, although it was not clear whether these were generated by the use of operational freedoms, as a proportion appear to correlate to a prolonged period of easterly operations which was due to weather conditions rather than the trial;
  • generally low awareness of the trial but some support for it from residents surveyed when its objectives were explained; and
  • no detriment to safety.

In my previous statement, I also set out the timetable for phase two of the trial. Following advice from the CAA, I am announcing today that I have agreed to a six month extension of phase two which will now run from July 2012 to March 2013.

The CAA concluded that the relatively short duration of phase one meant that the evidence it provided on the impact of operational freedoms was more limited than anticipated, partially as a result of an unusually high level of easterly operations. The extension until March 2013 will increase the amount of data generated enabling a more robust analysis of the benefits and impacts, allowing a direct comparison between phases one and two.

A longer trial will also reduce the risk that external factors (such as easterly winds) significantly limit the amount of usable information. This will ensure that the eventual consultation with local communities on whether a more permanent operational freedoms regime is adopted at the airport is based on a sufficient level of evidence.

Phase two will also mean that Heathrow will benefit from greater resilience during the Olympic and Paralympic Games period when the airport will be under more pressure than usual.

Improving punctuality, tackling delay and strengthening resilience at Heathrow would improve the quality of the UK’s international connections and enhance the reputation of our largest international gateway. Phase one has shown that, without prejudging our views on the associated impacts, there is potential to deliver operational benefits without increasing capacity. We therefore have grounds to believe that there is still more that can be done to deliver a better Heathrow, while continuing to protect communities affected by aircraft noise.

I have therefore agreed to the continuation of the trial of tactical use of dual arrivals and departures measures agreed for the first phase. I have also agreed that the following freedoms should be added to phase two:

  • Aircraft scheduled to arrive after 0600 will be permitted to land between 0530 and 0600 provided that the same number of flights scheduled to arrive between 0430 and 0500 are rescheduled to after 0500. This is expected to delay the onset of noise disturbance to local communities in the early morning period and enhance the resilience of the schedule;
  • During “segregated” operations departing aircraft may be re-directed (radar vectored) by air traffic control from their normal routes of departure (mostly within pre-determined noise preferential routes). This is expected to improve the reliability of the schedule by increasing the departure rate from a single runway and improve the scope for reducing the number of unscheduled night flights;
  • Subject to approval of the safety case by CAA, it is intended to apply the same principles to enable dual departures later in phase two, but only within the pre-determined noise preferential routes;
  • The cap on the more flexible use of dual arrivals allowed as part of the trial will be raised from 6 to 12 per hour;
  • The proactive tests used briefly in phase one will be continued. The periods during which these tests will be undertaken will be announced on BAA’s website during the first month of phase two.

BAA will shortly begin a further period of engagement with local authorities, communities and other stakeholders around the operation of phase two, particularly on the monitoring of noise impacts. Once the trial is complete, the evidence collected will provide the basis for a consultation with local communities.

This will consider whether an operational freedoms regime of some form should be adopted on a more permanent basis at Heathrow and if so what safeguards should apply in relation to its use. This consultation will inform the subsequent decision by Ministers.

 http://www.dft.gov.uk/news/statements/villiers-20120515a

Is this moving towards permanent mixed mode at Heathrow?

The DfT’s earlier press release, at the start of the Operational Freedoms trial, in July 2011 is at http://www.dft.gov.uk/news/press-releases/dft-press-20110714

Earlier information about the trials:

Jury still out on Heathrow operational freedom trials

March 16, 2012    Heathrow has been running its ‘operational freedoms’ trial for several months, from November 2011 to February 2012. This is the first of two trial periods, with the second during the Olympics, from July to September this year. BAA produces results of the trials, and a daily report, which are very difficult indeed to interpret. The trials are to allow Heathrow to use both runways for takes offs or landings, if a delay builds up, so flights do not suffer more than a minimum delay. It appears that an average of 23 aircraft landed on the ‘wrong’ runway each day during the first two months of the ‘operational freedom’ trials at Heathrow, which compares to a daily average of 12 during the same period in 2010. The number of complaints received by BAA rose significantly but more analysis is being carried out on the reason for this.    Click here to view full story…

 

 

Wandsworth residents worried over possible Heathrow emergency flight measures abuses

24th July 2011    Campaigners have warned they will be “up in arms” if BAA abuses new emergency measures at Heathrow to introduce more flights.  John Stewart said the Government’s task force has proposed granting BAA more flexibility to land planes on both runways to avoid disruption at critical times, such as severe weather and the Olympic Games. But it is vital that there are safeguards which to ensure BAA does not abuse its new-found freedom.    Click here to view full story…

 

 

Heathrow to be given more freedom to use both runways in emergencies or periods of serious disruption

 14th July 2011     Heathrow is to be given more freedom to land aircraft on both runways at the same time to recover from periods of serious disruption (quite how that is defined is not clear).  The plan is included in the report of the South East Airports Task Force, chaired by aviation minister Theresa Villiers.  It was set up by the current government last year to look at ways of improving the efficiency of Heathrow and other south east airports. The new practice will be trialled for a period.  If it is decided to continue with it, there would be public consultation.   Click here to view full story…