Speech by Major Richard Streatfeild at the Airports Commission day on Gatwick

Major Richard Streatfeild spoke very effectively at the Airports Commission evidence session on Gatwick. He represents some 18,000 people who live in 11 parish councils on the High Weald, and the High Weald Parish Councils Aviation Action Group. Concern was first alerted earlier this year, when Gatwick changed some flight paths and started to concentrate others, causing much more aircraft noise nuisance than there had been previously. Thousands of people who had not been much over-flown in the past woke up to the new noise nuisance, and in particular, the threat of the situation deteriorating dramatically if Gatwick was allowed another runway. Richard spoke of the loss of trust and confidence in the airport, after repeatedly being told half truths, or lies. He also spoke of the torture, akin to sleep deprivation, of night flights – and gave both Sir Howard and Stewart a present of an alarm clock, set to go off once an hour – to try out for two nights …. to experience a taste of sleep deprivation. He said if Gatwick is selected, people know they will be “in a fight for our lives” and the extent of the battle will be unprecedented, through every means available. He ended by saying: “The solution is simple: Disperse the aircraft and make them fly as high as is safe, stop the night flights and do not build an additional runway.”


Sir Howard,

Thank you for the invitation to be a witness for the Airports Commission.

I am here because I have a mandate from 11 councils in the High Weald representing 18 thousand people. (High Weald Parish Councils).

I am confident that by the time this consultation period finishes the policy that started as the construct of 4 Parish Councils will be adopted either in name or in practice by all of the councils across the High Weald and further afield representing at least 200,000 people.

A year ago we did not exist, I can honestly say that we did not think believe or expect that Gatwick would make your shortlist,  We are growing exponentially and that in itself should challenge your assumptions about deliverability at Gatwick.

I speak for them and we endorse what has been said before by Crispin Blunt and Brendon Sewil. The funding risk and minimal economic benefit of Gatwick expansion is key to not meeting your stated objectives.

The environmental case is none existent.

Perhaps you think it might be socially, politically or legally more acceptable to put new capacity at Gatwick.

I am here to bear witness to the fact that it will not. Not because of the quantity of the effect but the quality. But before that I must bear witness that there has been a catastrophic breach of trust by the airport in assisting the commission in this process.

Yesterday invitations went out to local individuals and Parish Councils to give their views on the scheme. Too late – it will be white paint on the grave.

We all wish to see Gatwick as a successful regional airport so it gives me no pleasure to say they routinely lie to us. As routine business they are prepared to obfuscate, mislead and evade. They even lie about the lie.

As one of my Company Serjeant Majors was prone to say about the more errant Riflemen in my former life, they can’t even lie straight in bed.

For those in the High Weald this is the one that hurts the most. In 2012 Gatwick began to change the way they used the airspace to get more planes into Gatwick taking a longer route and flying over many more people far more often below 4000 feet.

As people began to notice, Gatwick consistently said nothing had changed. That is still their public position. It wasn’t until we got the maps from the CAA under Freedom of Information that proved the change that the chief executive of the CAA told us last week “air traffic controllers had been trying out new vectoring choices” .

We had also discovered that the head of NATS at Gatwick put on a blog in 2013 that there was a trial and the shortened flight path had been removed – Gatwick told us there was no trial and no change. Why did you lie?

They ran a consultation on new flight paths. IPSOS MORI said they would publish the results in September. GATWICK have made liars of IPSOS MORI on their behalf.

And we believe they did so in order that they didn’t have to tell you the results before you put out the consultation. Mr Wingate, why did you get IPSOS MORI to withhold the results from us and the commission?

They continue to mislead us and you – the latest one is that that a new concentrated arrivals and the second runway are not linked. We know it is not possible to get the quantity of planes into Gatwick without those new flightpaths. They are linked – why won’t you be straight with us or the commission?

So trust is gone and so will our economy.

A notable omission from the proposal and consultation documents are the 2 million tourists who come to the high Weald.

300,000 come to Hever Castle alone, to get on the Tudor trail to see the family residence of the mother of the virgin queen. What they get is Virgin Atlantic overshadowing their experience.

250,000 planes a year will kill it dead. Why won’t you release the data at the noise meter at Hever Castle that proves the extent of the intrusion and makes a lie of the noise data in the consultation documents?

Furthermore the new route goes over 6 schools. We know it will damage children’s concentration at school and expose them to high levels of pollution. The heritage, the tranquillity, the quintessential character of the English countryside of the garden of England are about to be lost to the bucket and spade airport, the returning Sunday afternoon boozy boys weekend to Prague and the 1 am flight from Geneva so the Biltons can get a little more chalet time.

Then there is the killer argument. You may have noticed the Senate intelligence committee report into the torture carried out by the CIA in so called black sites across the globe.

Second on their list of abhorrent practices was Sleep deprivation.

Long term sleep deprivation will kill you.

Our quality of life will be diminished and most importantly our life expectancy will shorten, not according to me but the World Health Organisation. It is a key difference between a good neighbour and a bad one.

Heathrow accepts a quota of 3500 night flights not campaigns to maintain 11800. That number is not sleep disturbance it is sleep deprivation.

Heathrow puts the majority of night flights before 11 30 and after 630 but Gatwick,  the bad neighbour, flies in all through the night. The better one – Heathrow – definitely puts all their flights after 0430. The bad, makes night flying as cheap as possible and won’t even acknowledge that there is anything wrong.

This is why Gatwick is such a bad neighbour right now and a will be a worse one in future.

This being the festive season, I have brought you both a Christmas present [to Sir Howard and to Stewart Wingate]. An alarm clock set for 01 something and the snooze button set for an hour. Just time to get into a deep sleep before being woken up. I challenge you to do two nights of it.

I say again and I know something of this for real -Sleep deprivation is physical torture.
So my questions are:

Do either the Commission or the airport really want to facilitate the torture and ultimately the early demise of innocent people? Why is this not costed in?

I also wish to bear witness to our determination to prevent a second runway at Gatwick. If you think the anti-Heathrow campaign is well organised and well-funded by the time 2015 is out you have my word we will make them look like the mad hatters tea party.

We know now that if Gatwick were to be chosen we would be in a fight for our lives. It would be a fight to protect some of the most vulnerable in our communities from dying before they have to, a fight to defend our quality of life from the uncaring and unscrupulous. To protect some of our most precious green and pleasant land from being desecrated for personal and corporate gain.

Sir Howard I hope you really understand what you will ignite.

We will campaign in the newspapers, in the courts, at the ballot box and in parliament. We will fight those battles in Kent, in Sussex and Surrey, in Westminster, Brussels and in Strasbourg. We will call you out in the town halls and the council chambers, in the Treasury, at Revenue and Customs, in the Channel Islands, in the boardrooms in Korea in Australia Abu Dhabi and California; we will take this fight to city, the stock exchange and the old Bailey.

Trustees will be made answerable for your actions. You will find us protesting on the runway and on the airwaves, on your way to work and on your way home. Day and night.

We will not stop and we will not give in until we have a mutually acceptable solution.

The solution is simple: Disperse the aircraft and make them fly as high as is safe, stop the night flights and do not build an additional runway.

Gatwick is big enough already.

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See also two other excellent speeches delivered during the day:

Speech by Sally Pavey at the Airports Commission evidence day on Gatwick

Sally Pavey, a resident of Warnham (close to Horsham, in Sussex) set up a local group – CAGNE – in March 2014, to oppose the “ADNID” flight path trial that Gatwick airport had instigated. The new route for the ADNID flight path was concentrated, with Warnham – which had never before suffered over flight by planes from Gatwick – getting some of the worst of it. CAGNE stands for Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions, and it has blossomed over the past months, as more and more people objected to being guineapigs, without warning or consultation from Gatwick – to a level of noise that made life hell for thousands. Sally spoke passionately, and effectively and among the many points she raised is the lack of trust by local communities in the airport, from repeated instances of being given wrong or partial information, or being ignored. For many, trust in the airport will never be regained. Gatwick submitted their runway plans to the Commission without even waiting for the end of its consultation with the public. Sally: “We will stand in the way of this off shore owned company. We will show them they have made a bad investment in Gatwick. We will use with every means at our disposal to stop a 2nd runway … we will not stop opposing a 2nd runway at Gatwick Airport.”

Click here to view full story…

 

Great speech by Crispin Blunt MP at the Airports Commission Gatwick evidence day

The Airports Commission held their second evidence day, this time on Gatwick (the Heathrow day was on 3rd December). The format of the day was to give Stewart Wingate time to set out his runway plans and promote them. There were then speeches by Henry Smith MP and Crisipin Blunt MP, as well as others from Brendon Sewill (GACC), Sally Pavey (CAGNE), and Major Richard Streatfeild (HWPCAAG) for community groups. A range of councillors then spoke, as well as three people from the business organisations. Crispin Blunt spoke very strongly against the runway proposals, and the text of his speech is copied below. Interestingly, to pick out just two comments, he said – on the financing of the project – the claimed need for commercial confidence is in error because redactions in Gatwick published documents on tax, financing, profit and loss, cash flow etc and the assumptions that underlie these figures are critical to enable MPs, the public etc to evaluate the airport’s proposal. Also that Gatwick is served only by a single rail and motorway connection. The airport, its passengers and its airlines is already dangerously vulnerable to disruption. It’s worth reading the speech.

Click here to view full story…

 

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IATA estimates air fares will fall by 5% in 2015 due to falling oil price

IATA says global air fares are expected to drop next year as falling oil prices and strong worldwide GDP growth help airlines post record profits. The price of oil has fallen by over 40% since June and may fall further, depending on OPEC. IATA anticipate air fares (excluding taxes and surcharges) will fall 5.1% on 2014 levels. IATA said due to the “highly competitive” nature of the airline business, savings made will be passed onto travellers. They expect the profits of the global airline industry will reach $25 million in 2015, which equates to a 3.2% profit margin. On a per passenger basis, airlines will make a net profit of $7.08 in 2015. That is up on the $6.02 earned in 2014 and the $3.83 per passenger in 2013. IATA also increased its profit forecast for 2014 to $19.9 billion, up from its earlier prediction of $18 billion. However, IATA consider a margin of 3.2% is small and doesn’t leave much room for “deterioration in the external environment before profits are hit”. However, as many airlines “hedged” their fuel supplies in advance, many continue to have to pay prices above the current market price for some months, delaying price cuts. 
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Air fares to drop 5% in 2015 – IATA

By Tom Newcombe
10 Dec 2014 (Buying Business Travel)

Air fares are expected to drop next year as falling oil prices and strong worldwide GDP growth help airlines post record profits, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The Geneva-based trade body are predicting return air fares (excluding taxes and surcharges) will fall 5.1% on 2014 levels, as consumers benefit from strong industry performance and lower industry costs.

IATA said due to the “highly competitive” nature of the airline business, savings made will be passed onto travellers.

It comes as an IATA outlook report shows profits for the global airline industry will reach $25 million in 2015, which equates to a 3.2% profit margin. On a per passenger basis, airlines will make a net profit of $7.08 in 2015. That is up on the $6.02 earned in 2014 and more than double the $3.83 earnings per passenger achieved in 2013.

IATA also increased its profit forecast for 2014 to $19.9 billion, up from its earlier prediction of $18 billion.

“The industry outlook is improving. The global economy continues to recover and the fall in oil prices should strengthen the upturn next year,” said IATA director general Tony Tyler.

However, Tyler warned that a margin of 3.2% is small especially when there are a number of risks to the aviation industry such as political unrest, conflict and weak regional economies. He added it doesn’t leave much room for “deterioration in the external environment before profits are hit”.

“Stronger industry performance is good news for all. It’s a highly competitive industry and consumers—travellers as well as shippers—will see lower costs in 2015 as the impact of lower oil prices kick in.

“Airline investors will see ROIC move closer to the WACC. And a healthy air transport sector will help governments in their overall objective to stimulate the economic growth needed to put the impact of the global financial crisis behind them at last,” he added.

http://buyingbusinesstravel.com/news/1023510-air-fares-drop-5-2015-iata

 


Air fares set to fall in 2015

Savings made on plummeting oil prices will be passed on to passengers, say carriers

10 December 2014 (Guardian)

Airlines are stuck with contracts for fuel that pre-date the price slump of the past months.

Flying could get cheaper next year as airlines say they will finally start passing on some of the savings made on plummeting oil prices.

Carriers are forecasting record profits for 2015 due to cheaper fuel and rising demand and they expect to cut the average ticket price by 5%, excluding surcharges and taxes.

The International Air Transport Associated (Iata) admitted on Wednesday that the probable fare reductions may not be big considering that the price of crude oil has fallen by 40% since June, but is the most that carriers can do in the short term

The association, which represents 240 airlines – 84% of the world’s air traffic – says that carriers are stuck with contracts for fuel that pre-date the price slump of the past months.

As demand for flying remains strong, fares have instead been going up, but Iata chief economist Brian Pearce said there were likely to be changes once fuel costs started to reflect the recent oil price fall. “It’s going to be six months or so before airlines are seeing lower fuel costs and, at that point, consumers are likely to see a fall in travel costs,” Pearce said.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/dec/10/air-fares-set-to-fall-in-2015

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Complaint to Airports Commission that ££ multi-million Gatwick & Heathrow ads & PR blitz is ‘subverting democracy’

Campaigners against a new runway at Heathrow r Gatwick, have attacked the multi-million ££ advertising and PR campaigns being mounted by both airports for their expansion plans. They say this huge expenditure is “subverting democracy” and drowning out discussion of alternatives – and the basic question of whether a runway should be built at all. A coalition of environmentalists and senior MPs has written to Sir Howard Davies, the head of the Airports Commission, to say the two airports are exerting “unfair influence” because of their marketing power and huge budgets for advertising and PR. There has been a blitz of large adverts in the national press and billboards or posters in prominent places, including Westminster Tube station and also close to the offices of Airports Commission.  Heathrow has placed billboards as far afield as Newcastle and Manchester.  One media buying agency told The Independent that the cost of both campaigns was likely to have exceeded £7m.  Heathrow has also funded an astroturfing campaign called “Back Heathrow”, and repeatedly refused to say how much it has spent – and continues to spend – on this.
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London airports’ PR blitz is ‘subverting democracy’

Anti-expansion campaigners claim they are being drowned out

By CAHAL MILMO (Independent)

12 December 2014

Campaigners against expansion of London’s airports have attacked the multi-million pound advertising and PR campaigns for new runways being mounted by Heathrow and Gatwick, claiming they are “subverting democracy” and drowning out discussion of alternatives.

A coalition of environmentalists and senior MPs has written to Sir Howard Davies, the head of the commission which will recommend next year which of the capital’s two largest airports should expand, alleging that the owners of both facilities are exerting “unfair influence” because of their marketing power.

The two rival airports have recently launched an advertising blitz with large adverts in the national press and billboards or posters in prominent places, including Westminster Underground station next to the Houses of Parliament and also close to the offices of Airports Commission.

Although Sir Howard is not due to finalise his recommendations until next summer, after the general election, and the final go-ahead will be in the hands of the next government, the two main players are engaged in a noisy public relations battle to put the case for their rival runway bids.

One media buying agency told The Independent that the cost of both campaigns was likely to have exceeded £7m. It emerged last week that Heathrow had also helped fund a community group arguing for expansion of the airport.

Gatwick expansion advert Gatwick expansion advert Campaigners said that the scale of the marketing offensive, which has seen Heathrow place billboards as far afield as Newcastle and Manchester, meant that dissenting voices were unable to be heard.

The letter, which called on Sir Howard to offer reassurance that his commission had not been “overly influenced” by the publicity splurge, has 15 signatories, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Heathrow campaign group HACAN, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP and environmentalist.

It said: “Between them, both Heathrow and Gatwick have managed to dominate advertising space not just across the South East but also across other parts of the country. We fear in effect that they have subverted democracy by buying major influence [through advertising] over the Commission and our elected politicians.

“We are also concerned that this advertising blitz has had the result of watering down considerations made on the impacts of airport expansion on climate change.”

Airport Sir Howard announced two years ago that he had shortlisted three plans – a second runway at Gatwick and two competing proposals to build a third runway at Heathrow or lengthen its existing north runway – from which one would be chosen to provide the South East with new capacity by 2030.

But opponents argue a new runway would have dire consequences for the environment and air quality as well as reinforcing London’s dominance of the British economy.

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England, who coordinated the letter, said: “Every debate now begins by asking where expansion should take place, when the real question which needs to be asked is whether it should take place.

“We cannot meet our climate change targets and build any major new runways at the same time, the two policies are mutually incompatible.”

Both Heathrow and Gatwick denied that their advertising campaigns meant they could exert excessive influence.

In a statement, Gatwick Airport said: “Gatwick has only had a year to get its message across since being shortlisted and advertising has proved an effective way of doing this. In contrast, Heathrow has had decades to make its case.”

A spokesman for Heathrow Airport said: “The Airports Commission process has encouraged an informed debate on the role of aviation to the UK and it is both right and absolutely in keeping with the principles of democracy that the widest possible audience is engaged in both sides.”

The Airports Commission said it was assessing the three shortlisted proposals on the basis of a framework that included both environmental and economic factors. A spokesman added: “The Commission will assess all the evidence through the framework and is not influenced either by advertising or by lobbying, whether for or against, the proposals it is considering.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/london-airports-pr-blitz-is-subverting-democracy-9922081.html

 

 

Keith co-ordinates campaigners letter to Airports Commission

A media buying agency told The Independent that the cost of both campaigns was likely to have exceeded £7m. *The Davies Commission is the Government approved commission who are consulting on airport expansion plans.

And here’s the letter in full:

Dear Sir Howard Davies,

We’re writing to you as we’re afraid your commission may have become overly influenced by pro-expansion advertising campaigns by both Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport over the last year.

‘Back Heathrow’, a Heathrow lobby group who were masquerading as a community organisation were outed by the Sunday Times last weekend when it was revealed they received the majority of their funding from Heathrow Airport. The ‘Gatwick Obviously’ campaign is another similar example.

Between them, both Heathrow and Gatwick have managed to dominate advertising space not just across the South East but also across other parts of the country. You need look no further than Westminster Underground station over the last few months to see the unfair influence their campaigns are having. Advertising on the side of taxis is another example. We fear in effect that they have subverted democracy by buying major influence over the commission and our elected politicians.

We are also concerned that this advertising blitz has had the result of watering down considerations made on the impacts of airport expansion on climate change.

The Airports Commission has said that at least one new runway should be built in the South East. However, if you add a new runway into the mix then constraints will have to be imposed elsewhere, something which isn’t current Government policy. Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) analysis has found that if you added a new runway to the South East, even if you then constrained all regional airports to today’s level of flying you’d still overshoot the emissions limit by 2050.

We have not seen any indications, from the CCC, the Government, or the Airports Commission, on which airports should be constrained in order to meet climate objectives while building a new runway.

It would seem that your decision to recommend building another runway has been taken independently of any future analysis of regional airport impacts, and we remain very concerned, that building a new runway anywhere in the South East would have unacceptable consequences for our environment.

Not only on climate change but also on other issues, it looks like the Commission may have been overly influenced by recent pro-expansion lobbying campaigns by both Heathrow and Gatwick and we call for reassurances that has not been the case.

Yours sincerely,

Keith Taylor, MEP for South East England

John Sauven, Executive Director Greenpeace

Jane Thomas, Senior Campaigner Friends of the Earth

James MacColl, Head of Campaigns, Campaign for Better Transport

John Stewart, Chair, HACAN

Tim Johnson, Director, Aviation Environment Federation (AEF)

Brendon Sewill, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC)

Salley Pavey, Chair Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions (CAGNE)

John McDonnell MP

Zac Goldsmith MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Jean Lambert MEP for London

Sarah Clayton, Airport Watch

Charlie Smith, Plane Stupid

Ian Westmoreland, Transition Heathrow

– See more at: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/2014/12/15/keith-co-ordinates-campaigners-letter-to-airports-commission/#sthash.45O9IDRS.dpuf

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NATS criticised after flights seriously disrupted after computer failure at UK control centre

On 12th Decemer, a computer problem at Swanwick, the main NATS air traffic control centre, caused huge disruption to airspace. The problem was sorted out after 45 minutes, but it lead to extensive delays for many hours afterwards.  Some 10,000 passengers at Heathrow were affected, with over 128 flights cancelled.  NATS is accused of cutting corners to boost profits and management bonuses. They are allegedly still using technology from the 1960s, though the section of the system that failed was designed in the 1990s. NATS commented that “Often the oldest technology is the most reliable. That is why it is still there.” There was also a bad failure in December 2013 which caused a much greater amount of flight disruption. There is to be an inquiry, but as the issues are technical and complex, this will be by the CAA and NATS. Transport committee’s chairman Louise Ellman questioned Mr McLoughlin about the inquiry – saying it “did not look very independent”.  Richard Deakin (NATS CEO) said NATS will be spending £575m over the next five years on systems.
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Air chaos: ‘10,000’ hit by Nats glitch at Heathrow

15.12.2014 (BBC)

and more at  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30454240

Patrick McLoughlin told the committee last week’s disruption was significantly less than December 2013

Up to 10,000 passengers at Heathrow alone were affected by an air traffic control computer failure, the transport secretary has confirmed.

Patrick McLoughlin said Friday’s failure was “unacceptable” but defended the National Air Traffic Services.

He told MPs he welcomed an inquiry by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) into the chaos, saying he hoped the findings would be available by March 2015.

Nats has blamed a computer glitch for disruption to flights across the UK.

Answering questions from the House of Commons Transport Committee, Mr McLoughlin defended the overall performance of Nats, saying it was doing “an incredibly good job”.

“The average delay this year in Nats is 2.5 seconds per flight, whereas the rest of Europe we’re taking about 30 seconds,” he said.

He also compared the disruption to a telephone failure at the Swanwick centre in December 2013, which also caused flight disruption.

That incident caused 126,000 minutes of delays, compared to Friday’s 16,000 minutes, Mr McLoughlin said.

Mr McLoughlin said he wanted to “find out what went wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again”
Earlier, Prime Minister David Cameron said the failure – which has been blamed on a single line of compute code in one flight system – would be examined “very, very carefully”.

The CAA is to appoint an independent chair to lead the inquiry, which will take evidence from experts on information technology and air traffic control.

However, the transport committee’s chairman Louise Ellman questioned Mr McLoughlin about the inquiry – which could involve CAA and Nats staff – saying it “did not look very independent”.

The inquiry would be dealing with a very specialised and technical area, Mr McLoughlin said. He said there was a limited number of people who could carry it out.

“We want to find out what went wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he added,

Criticism rejected
Investment by Nats has been questioned since Friday’s failure, which grounded many flights at Heathrow and Gatwick with knock-on effects at other UK airports.

Heathrow also cancelled about 40 flights on Saturday morning before normal services resumed.

The company’s chief executive, Richard Deakin, rejected criticism from Business Secretary Vince Cable, who accused the company of “skimping on large-scale investment” and being “penny wise and pound foolish”.

The company says it will be spending £575m over the next five years on systems.

Mr Deakin has also faced calls from Labour MP Paul Flynn to have his bonus docked because of the disruption.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said he expected his pay to be affected by the incident but stressed that Nats’ performance over the year had been good.

“We have the funding that we need to deliver the service that we require,” he added.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30476435

Related BBC Stories


 

Nats defends air traffic system as failure scrutinised

By Peggy Hollinger and Elizabeth Rigby

December 15, 2014 (Financial Times)

British Airways has said Thursday June 3, 2004, that the national air traffic control computer system crashed at 6am and flights were being operated manually by air traffic controllers

On an average day some 6,000 aircraft fly through UK airspace, roughly a fifth of the 30,000 planes that criss-cross Europe. No other European airspace is as busy and complex.
So Friday’s systems setback at the UK’s main air traffic control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire, may only have lasted 45 minutes, but it had serious consequences.

Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, told MPs on Monday that 10,000 passengers at Heathrow had been affected by cancellations, with the failure causing 16,000 minutes in delays as over 128 flights were cancelled.

Now Nats, one of Europe’s few privatised air traffic control groups, stands accused of cutting corners to boost profits and management bonuses.

“We need to have a very careful look at this and the Civil Aviation Authority will be running an independent inquiry into what happened,” the transport secretary told MPs. “It seems as if it was some sort of computer failure. Our skies and air traffic control are highly important business and we need to look at it very, very carefully.”

Vince Cable, business secretary, at the weekend claimed that Nats had skimped on investment for many years leaving it relying on outdated technology. His assault has led to calls for management to forgo bonuses as they did after the last systems failure in Swanwick, almost exactly a year ago.

Mr McLoughlin dismissed his colleague’s concerns on Monday, remarking that he was “not quite sure where Vince got his briefing from or on what he based that answer”.

But MPs on the transport select committee echoed the business secretary’s concerns in a parliamentary hearing and have summoned the CAA and Nats to the committee on Wednesday to hear their versions of events.

Friday’s problem did in fact occur in a part of the system that was designed in the 1990s, says Martin Rolfe, managing director of operations. However, he rejects suggestions that this means Nats’ systems are not suited to purpose. “Often the oldest technology is the most reliable. That is why it is still there,” he says.

Critics have also accused Nats of using a more costly custom-built technology which is more difficult to upgrade than the off the shelf systems bought by peers in Germany or France. In fact, Friday’s setback happened as Nats was attempting to expand Swanwick’s capability to deal with the rapidly growing number of flights passing through UK airspace.
But Mr Rolfe says that when the technology was chosen, there was nothing suitably sophisticated to deal with the volumes of flights handled in the UK. This high intensity has also meant that Nats has had to upgrade bit by bit rather than implement a wholesale overhaul as technology improved.

“It is like upgrading an F1 car that is running 24 hours a day seven days a week. Imagine upgrading it while it is still running,” he said. “There is a limit to how much investment we can make in any one period.”

Industry experts are more understanding than politicians of the challenges facing Nats. “They have maintained high levels of investment,” says Jenny Beechener, editor of IHS Jane’s Air Traffic Control yearbook. “Certainly they are at levels very similar to other leading air navigation service providers.”

Published documents show that Nats capital investment has outstripped its state-controlled German peer for the last five years, the UK group says.

Yet it is true that Nats, like other European air traffic control providers, is under pressure from regulators to cut costs — a difficult task when a majority of these are tied up in personnel. Cost efficiency has been held back by the delays in implementing European legislation on single skies, which would mean pooling air traffic control services — and large numbers of job cuts.

But Mr Rolfe says this has not stopped Nats from investing what is needed to improve efficiency. In the last regulatory review Nats got the go-ahead for investment of £575m over the next five years, which he says will mark the beginning of an acceleration in implementation of new technology
Airlines also question whether Nats’ performance — excluding the delays caused by congestion at Heathrow — is any worse than that of its continental European peers. “Across Europe we see similar outages,” said a UK carrier with a big European network. “Typically we see one or two in each region on an annual basis.”

Airlines also point out that more flights are lost to strikes by continental European air traffic controllers than to systems failures in the UK. On Friday easyJet was forced to cancel 76 flights because of industrial action by Italian controllers, while it axed just 10 flights after the Swanwick systems glitch.

Nats handled 2.2m flights last year and claims its efficiency is greater than many of its state owned peers. Average delay per flight attributable to Nats was 5.5 seconds “which is about one-fifth of the average European delay per flight” the group says.

Those claims were supported by the transport secretary on Monday who described the performance of the British air traffic control as “far superior” to European counterparts.
Yet there is still a perception that Nats has suffered setbacks ever since it was privatised in 2001. The systems failure last year, and Friday’s outage, was seen as a continuation of problems at Swanwick, which was five years late and millions over budget when it came online more than a decade ago.

It is a view which puzzles Ms Beechener. “Nats has actually been quite innovative,” she says. “They have been pioneering in the commercial sector and have become much smarter about how they invest. And Nats safety record is as good as any across Europe.”
Latest political storm
This is not the first time that Nats has flown into a political storm. Its partial privatisation by a Labour government in 2001 was highly controversial, not just in the UK but in Europe, where it sparked fears of a British takeover of the continent’s air traffic control services, writes Peggy Hollinger.

The outcry was revived when Nats sought an injection of funds from shareholders just six months after the sell-off, because the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York had caused a sharp slump in air travel. To fund the part-privatisation the group had had to take on significant debt to repay loans to the government. It quickly came to the conclusion that it had overpaid and its bankers urged it to ask for a refund.

Thirteen years later Nats has delivered for its shareholders, who still include the government with 49 per cent and a golden share. The rest is held by employees who have 5 per cent, LHR, the airports operator with 4 per cent, while a consortium of seven airlines holds 42 per cent.

This year the group is expected to pay out £77m in dividends. It has expanded its international operations but the bread and butter business is still the regulated UK operation and that has proved extremely profitable. Since 2007 the group has doubled its operating profit before exceptional items from £120.6m to £240m, on sales up from £552.2m to £917.6m.

Nats executives are emphatic that the government sell-off has not created constraints on investment. To a large extent this is decided through a regulatory review process which determines the fees Nats can charge airlines to fund its regulated business and the returns it can make on investment.

“Average annual expenditure (on investment) . . . has been between 1.4 times and 1.9 times the annual level before privatisation,” the group said.

In the last review 18 months ago, Nats says it agreed to “reduce prices by about 20 per cent in real terms principally through reducing its operating costs, despite the pattern of rising traffic, while broadly maintaining the level of its capital investment programme”.

 

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/98bfdc3c-8479-11e4-ba4f-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3M9dkByqf

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London Chamber of Commerce & Industry says London should keep £1bn raised in APD from its airports

Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry,  says the amount of APD (Air Passenger Duty) levied on flights using London airports should be allocated to London.  As the largest number of long haul flights are from Heathrow, it generates the most APD, with around £1 billion  – around one third – coming from London airports.  Mr Stanbridge says: “Now that Edinburgh and Belfast will control APD in their areas surely it must be the case that London will follow suit.” The Chamber of Commerce wants there to be no tax at all on flying, and for APD to be abolished. But meanwhile it would be “more appropriate for London’s Mayor to oversee London airport APD….. We would like to see the funds invested in critical infrastructure projects in the capital such as Crossrail 2, Tube upgrades or a much-needed new road bridge for east London to name but a few. …The devolution of responsibility for this major transport tax would represent another power for London in the ongoing fight for greater fiscal devolution to the capital to help stimulate local growth”. The Treasury estimates full abolition of APD would result in up to £4bn in lost revenue per year – other estimates are higher. 
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London should keep £1bn raised in tax from its airports, say campaigners

MATTHEW BEARD, TRANSPORT EDITOR (Evening Standard)

9 December 2014

London should be able to keep to the £1 billion “flying tax” revenues raised at the capital’s airports, a campaign group said today.

The call to give the mayor control of the £1bn tax windfall follows the Government’s decision to allow Scotland to keep the levy raised from its airports.

Heathrow and London City airports contribute around £1bn a year – a third of the national total – in Air Passenger Duty, or airport departure tax.

APD was introduced in 1994 and is charged on passengers departing a UK airport on aircraft with more than 20 seats. It is charged based on the distance between London and the capital city of the destination country in four bands.

A family of four flying in economy class from the UK to the US pays £260 in APD tax.

Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said: “Now that Edinburgh and Belfast will control APD in their areas surely it must be the case that London will follow suit.

“We know from our members that APD is a barrier to getting them exporting and ultimately we would like to see this Treasury tax on flying abolished – a major PWC study last year found that abolition of APD would be good for UK PLC as a whole – with the economy likely to grow by £16billion.

“However in the short term, if APD is to remain ‘on-the-books’ then it would much more appropriate for London’s Mayor to oversee London airport APD.

“We would like to see the funds invested in critical infrastructure projects in the capital such as Crossrail 2, Tube upgrades or a much-needed new road bridge for east London to name but a few.

“I am sure that regardless of whoever holds the future Mayoral position he or she would certainly take into account the needs of the capital’s business, leisure and tourism sectors when approaching the matter.

“The devolution of responsibility for this major transport tax would represent another power for London in the

ongoing fight for greater fiscal devolution to the capital to help stimulate local growth”.

APD has increased by more than 325 per cent to key economies such as China and India since 2007 – presenting a major hike in fares for both leisure and business travellers heading to new markets.

Figures from the LCCI show that 59 per cent of firms see APD as a major barrier to exporting, as many firms need to visit new markets to promote their business and secure overseas deals.

APD has normally been controlled centrally by the Treasury, however the APD regime is changing across the UK as last week’s Autumn Statement saw the Chancellor confirm that APD would be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The Northern Ireland Assembly has had similar powers since 2011.

The Chamber argues that the time is right to look at London getting power over APD revenues generated at the two main airports within the Mayor’s jurisdiction – Heathrow and London City – which apparently account for up to around £1bn of the £3bn generated by APD across the UK.

A PWC study claimed there would be an increase in investment and exports as well as extra 60,000 jobs from abolishing APD. However the Treasury estimates full abolition would result in up to £4bn in lost revenue.

Families flying off on holiday will benefit from the Chancellor’s decision to scrap the APD for children under 12 year of age from May 1 2015. APD will be abolished for children under 16 from 2016.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “It is an interesting proposal and a welcome contribution to the debate. However the Mayor’s current focus remains on working with other major cities around the country to persuade the Government to devolve property taxes as in Scotland and Wales.”

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/london-should-keep-1bn-raised-in-tax-from-its-airports-say-campaigners-9912100.html

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More about Air Passenger Duty here

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Text of phone script of Heathrow commissioned Populus poll shows degree of bias

In July to September 2014 Heathrow commissioned yet another telephone poll by Populus, on attitudes to its 3rd runway plans.  The poll showed 49% net in favour, 32% net opposed and 19% neither support nor oppose. The figures are broadly similar to polls in March 2014 (48% support, 34% against, 18% unsure), November 2013 or May 2013 and there was 50% support from a Populus poll in 2007.  Though Populus publish details of the numbers, they do not publish the script used for the phone interview.  An enterprising resident, irritated by the polls, noted the wording when telephoned – which indicates how much bias there is in the way the poll was conducted.  There was no mention that the poll was paid for by Heathrow.  The most dubious question is number 11 which asks: “Are you more or less inclined to support expansion of HRW (or maybe it was a 3rd runway?) knowing that it will mean:  11.1) An additional 41,000 jobs by 2030 (options more, less, or no difference); 11.2) Doubling youth training schemes from 5,000 to 10,000 places (options more, less, or no difference);  11.3) Reduction in number of people impacted by daytime aircraft noise (options more, less, or no difference);  11.4) Reduction in night time disturbance [not specific] (options more, less, or no difference).   Unbiased?

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Heathrow has used results from telephone surveys it has commissioned from the polling firm, Populus, to claim around 50% support for a 3rd runway but questions have been persistently asked about the script Populus has used.  An enterprising resident had the presence of mind to take detailed notes of how the questions were asked, when she was phoned.

Her notes are below.

 

Heathrow’s Populus Survey: the script

From HACAN

http://hacan.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Populus-Survey-the-script.pdf
Judge for yourself whether these questions may lead you to give particular
answers:

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“I just answered the Populus Survey. I made notes – not exact, but they might help.
I had already been called by them but asked them to call back as it wasn’t convenient
at the time, and they did…

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OPENING: Spiel about this being a survey about local issues. No mention of Heathow

1) What age group are you? (banded)
2) Many local people are saying they are unlikely to vote in the next general election.
How likely are you to vote, when 1 = not vote and 10 = definitely vote?
3) Which party will you vote for: LibDem, Lab, Cons, Other, Pref not to say? (I said
prefer not to say)
4) Did you vote in the last general election in May 2010?
5) How did you vote? (Lib Dem, Lab, Cons, Other, Pref not to say)
6) Do you have any of your family members who work for or used to work for HRW?
7) Do you have friends and/or neighbours who work for or used to work for HRW?
8) Have you worked at HRW or at a company linked to HRW?
9) How positive or negative do you feel about HRW, where 0 = very negative, 5 =
neutral, and 10 = very positive?

The Heathrow press release says the text is: “Taking everything into account, based on what you have seen, read and heard, how positive or negative would you say you feel towards Heathrow Airport?”

10) The two runways at HRW currently operate at maximum capacity. Do you
support a 3rd runway (choice of 5, from strongly support, somewhat support, neutral,
somewhat oppose, to strongly oppose)? (I went for strongly oppose).

The Heathrow press release says the question is: “Taking everything you know into account, do you currently support or oppose expanding Heathrow?”

11) Are you more or less inclined to support expansion of HRW (or maybe it was a
3rd runway?) knowing that it will mean:
11.1) An additional 41,000 jobs by 2030 (options are more, less, or no difference – I
went for NO DIFF, because I am strongly opposed to expansion and not open to being
coerced by propaganda)
11.2) Doubling youth training schemes from 5,000 to 10,000 places (same options – I
went for ‘no difference’.)
11.3) Reduction in no of people impacted by daytime aircraft noise (I said that this
was an unclear statement as wasn’t geographically specific, so again went for ‘no
difference’)
11.4) Reduction in nighttime disturbance (checked wording on this as less specific
than last question – pointed that out and went for ‘no difference’ again. Still opposed!)

12) To what extent do you agree with the statement that ‘HRW is working to keep
noise from flights to a minimum? 13) Who do you hear more about HRW from: opponents of HRW, people in the community or HRW? (not sure of exact wording of this question, apologies.)

14) Do you know your MP and their views on HRW expansion? Either; yes, they
oppose it; yes, they support it; don’t know

15) How likely are you to vote for them if they oppose HRW expansion? (lot more
likely, more likely, neither, less likely, much less likely – I went for lot more likely*)

16) How likely are you to vote for them if they support HRW expansion? (lot more
likely, more likely, neither, less likely, much less likely – I went for lot less likely.*

*I think these two questions are about understanding the pressure MPs are under from
their constituents and what lobbying is required, so think it’s important to be strong in
our views… What do you think?)

17) Question on ethinicity – said ‘prefer not to answer’
18) Working status – about 10 options
19) Your postcode – I gave it. They’ve got it a load of times direct from me anyway!

The interviewer was very helpful. They don’t have any info about it at the call centre
allegedly. He confirmed we couldn’t have the script and he couldn’t confirm the client
(although the website appears to).

He did give me the number of the Market Research Society (freephone 0500 396999),
but wasn’t sure what info they could really give me… Our phone number is exdirectory,
so I think I’ve been contacted because I’ve completed the form… ”

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Heathrow says:

“Poll: More local residents support expansion at Heathrow than oppose”

  • 49% support Heathrow expansion, 32% oppose
  • 59% feel positively about the airport, only 6% feel negative
  • 25% more likely to vote for MP if they support expansion, 17% more likely if they oppose expansion

More local residents in west London, Spelthorne, Slough and Windsor support the expansion of Heathrow than oppose according to new research from independent polling company Populus. 49% support support expansion and 32% oppose.

The poll is the biggest undertaken locally since the Airports Commission was formed. At least 1,000 residents in each constituency were polled, 9,670 in total.

As well as general support, 25% of local residents are more likely to vote for a Parliamentary candidate if they support expansion. 17%are likely to vote for them if they are against the plans. The research further demonstrates support for growing Heathrow to connect the UK to global growth.

59% of voters said they feel positive towards Heathrow, while 34% feel neutral and just 6% feel negative towards the airport.

The research is significant because it covers a statistically representative sample of those who stand to be most affected by Heathrow expansion and who have traditionally been perceived as opposed to growth. It confirms that a large proportion of people in the surrounding constituencies support the airport and its plans for a third runway.

Only one constituency – Richmond – had more residents who opposed expansion than supported it. All other areas saw many more people supporting than opposing a third runway.

John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive at Heathrow said:

“The whole country can get behind this plan. Expansion at Heathrow will connect all of Britain to global growth, and keep Britain at the heart of the global economy. We have listened and improved our proposal so that it benefits local communities. Expansion at Heathrow can deliver 50,000 new local jobs, tackle youth unemployment and add 5,000 new apprenticeships.

“We are offering a fair deal by significantly increasing our funding for compulsory purchase and noise insulation for local residents. Noise at the airport will reduce compared to today and we can stay within the UK’s environmental limits.”

Notes to editors

Populus interviewed at least 1,000 adult residents (18+) in nine constituencies local to Heathrow Airport by telephone between 22 July and 7 September 2014.

An additional 666 residents were interviewed in the London Borough of Hillingdon (across two constituencies: Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner; and Hayes and Harlington) in order to provide 1,670 interviews in the borough.

In total, 9,670 residents were interviewed.

Results were weighted to be demographically representative of all adults in each constituency and borough. Constituency results were also weighted by past vote to be politically representative of all adults.

Selected questions:

Taking everything you know into account, do you currently support or oppose expanding Heathrow?

Total Slough Feltham and Heston Spelthorne Windsor Hillingdon Brentford and Isleworth Ealing Central and Acton Uxbridge and South Ruislip Hammersmith Richmond Park
Positive 49% 60% 53% 52% 49% 50% 49% 49% 49% 45% 37%
Negative 32% 20% 31% 32% 34% 31% 37% 31% 31% 30% 45%
Neutral 19% 21% 16% 16% 17% 20% 14% 20% 20% 24% 18%

Taking everything into account, based on what you have seen, read and heard, how positive or negative would you say you feel towards Heathrow Airport? On a scale of 0-10, where 0 means very negative, 10 means very positive, and 5 is neutral.

Total Slough Feltham and Heston Spelthorne Windsor Hillingdon Brentford and Isleworth Ealing Central and Acton Uxbridge and South Ruislip Hammersmith Richmond Park
Positive 59% 62% 61% 65% 58% 63% 55% 58% 64% 54% 47%
Negative 6% 4% 6% 5% 7% 5% 8% 6% 4% 5% 12%
Neutral 34% 34% 32% 29% 34% 31% 37% 35% 32% 40% 39%

If your local MP opposed/supported Heathrow expansion, would it make you more or less likely to vote for that candidate, or would it have no impact?

Total Slough Feltham and Heston Spelthorne Windsor Hillingdon Brentford and Isleworth Ealing Central and Acton Uxbridge and South Ruislip Hammersmith Richmond Park
More likely if supported 25% 31% 33% 26% 22% 27% 24% 23% 29% 23% 15%
More likely if opposed 17% 11% 19% 14% 15% 15% 22% 15% 15% 16% 24%

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The Populus results of the July-September 2014 survey

http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Heathrow_Jul+Aug14_BPC.pdf   for larger version

Populus poll Heathrow July to Sept 2014


 

See also:

Putting the Heathrow Opinion Polls into Perspective

Blog by John Stewart

6.5.2014

Last week Heathrow Airport   claimed that there was more support now for a 3rd runway than when it was proposed by the last Labour Government.

It cited a recent opinion poll of more than 1,000 local residents by Populus which showed 48% are in favour of a third runway while 34% oppose. http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Heathrow-Borough-Poll-March-2014.pdf

The reality is different.  HACAN unearthed a Populus poll which revealed that in 2007 50% supported a 3rd runway and 30%  were against.  http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/download_pdf-170907-BAA-Heathrow-Future-Heathrow-Poll.pdf

 In fact, as we blogged last week, a third of people stubbornly refuse to back expansion at Heathrow.  Although some of the other figures fluctuate, the common thread in the Populus polls is the 30% or so of people who oppose expansion.

Here are the last three polls:

March 2014:  http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Heathrow-Borough-Poll-March-2014.pdf and

Nov 2013:  http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Heathrow_Poll_Nov131.pdf

May 2013:  http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Heathrow%20Airport%20Local%20Resident%20Research.pdf

 Heathrow Airport must be concerned that after more than a year of concerted, expensive and high-profile campaigning support for a third runway is little different than it was at the height of the protest six or seven years ago.

And, indeed, the referenda and surveys that were carried out by Hillingdon, Richmond and Hounslow show even less support for expansion.  Around 72% of residents opposed a 3rdrunway: http://www.richmond.gov.uk/100000_say_no_to_heathrow_expansion

 There has been no UKIP-style surge in support for a 3rd runway.

 Heathrow have only one year in which to change this.  The airport will be acutely aware that they lost the battle for a 3rd runway last time around.  They lost because the residents who opposed expansion in the 7 boroughs closest to the airport (over 525,000 people in total) were able to forge an effective alliance with residents further afield, environmentalists, politicians from across the political spectrum as well as some key business people and trade unions.

 Heathrow Airport will know that, unless they can shift opinion in the next year, the odds against a third runway being built will lengthen…….whatever recommendation the Airports Commission comes up with in summer 2015. 

 http://hacan.org.uk/blog/?p=281

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The Populus website says:   http://www.populus.co.uk/Poll/3395/

This poll covered attitudes towards Heathrow Airport.

Populus interviewed at least 1,000 adult residents (18+) in nine constituencies local to Heathrow Airport by telephone between 22 July and 7 September 2014.

An additional 666 residents were interviewed in the London Borough of Hillingdon (across two constituencies: Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner; and Hayes and Harlington) in order to provide 1,670 interviews in the borough. In total, 9,670 residents were interviewed.

Results were weighted to be demographically representative of all adults in each constituency and borough. Constituency results were also weighted by past vote to be politically representative of all adults.

Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For a full description of the methods we use, please click here.

 

 


March 2014 poll

 http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Heathrow-Borough-Poll-March-2014.pdf   for a larger version

Heathrow populus poll March 2014

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November 2013 poll

http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Heathrow_Poll_Nov131.pdf    for a larger versionHeathrow populus poll Nov 2013

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May 3013 poll

http://www.populus.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Heathrow%20Airport%20Local%20Resident%20Research.pdf   for a larger version

Heathrow populus  May 2013


Earlier:

Populus surveys done for Heathrow show only 48% back its expansion (26% back it strongly, 23% oppose it strongly)

April 30, 2014

To quote Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli; “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” And so it is when opinion polls are done, and the organisation that commissions the poll wants a particular result out of it. Heathrow often gets Populus to ask people in boroughs near Heathrow what they think. They usually ask similar questions each time. One asks “Taking everything you know into account, do you currently support or oppose expanding Heathrow?” Over all boroughs surveyed, 26% strongly supported this; 22% somewhat supported; 11% somewhat opposed; 23% strongly opposed. See link So 48% support, and 34% oppose, with 18% neither supporting nor opposing. The figures were broadly the same a year earlier (with 46% supporting, but 43% opposing, and 10% neither supporting nor opposing). Heathrow says this is large, and growing, support. It is difficult to interpret the figures, as Populus only publishes a small bit of its results, with no methodology, such as the script of the interviewer, tone of the questions etc. Questions need to be asked about what information is given to people by Populus before they are asked their views.

Click here to view full story…

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New Moody’s report shows Gatwick vulnerable to either its own, or a Heathrow, runway

The credit ratings agency Moody’s, have produced a new report entitled “New runway will have mixed credit implications for London’s airports”. This indicates that Gatwick would take the biggest hit if a new runway was built in London, while Heathrow stands to gain the most from a new runway. Moody’s has concluded that a new runway either at Gatwick or at Heathrow would be bad for Gatwick.  With its own new runway, Gatwick would be forced to levy higher airport charges, in order to pay for it.. Adding a runway at Heathrow would also result in increasing competition for Gatwick, because it would be at risk of losing scheduled airline traffic to Heathrow, where carriers can typically earn more per passenger mile. The Moody’s analyst commented:  “A runway at Heathrow would allow the airport to benefit from growth in future traffic volumes, and a new runway at Gatwick would not take significant traffic from Heathrow.”  And they say Gatwick double aeronautical charges would put it at a huge competitive disadvantage to Stansted, which is its main competitor in the low-cost airlines segment.
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Gatwick airport would be hit hardest by new London runway plans

by Kate McCann (City AM)

10.12.2014

Gatwick airport would take the biggest hit if a new runway was built in London, while Heathrow stands to gain the most from expansion plans, a new report out today claims.

Credit ratings agency Moody’s has concluded that a new runway on site or at Heathrow would be bad for Gatwick, as expansion would mean more expensive airport charges. Adding capacity at Heathrow would also result in increasing competition.

Xavier Lopez del Rincon, a Moody’s senior analyst and author of the report published today, said: “A runway at Heathrow would allow the airport to benefit from growth in future traffic volumes, and a new runway at Gatwick would not take significant traffic from Heathrow.

“Gatwick, on the other hand, would be vulnerable to airlines switching to an expanded Heathrow, whilst a new runway at Gatwick would increase its airport charges and could alienate its price-sensitive airlines.”

The Airports Commission, headed up by Sir Howard Davies, announced its shortlisted options in November. These include two designs at Heathrow, one at Gatwick and one at Stansted.

http://www.cityam.com/1418176895/gatwick-would-be-hit-hardest-airport-plans

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Moody’s: A new runway will have mixed credit implications for London’s airports

Global Credit Research – 10 Dec 2014 (Moody’s)

London, 10 December 2014 — Adding a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick would have conflicting credit implications for London’s three largest airports, says Moody’s Investors Service in a Special Comment report published today.

Moody’s report, entitled “New runway will have mixed credit implications for London’s airports”, is available on www.moodys.com athttps://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1001651.

“A new runway will have mixed credit implications for London airports. A runway at Heathrow would allow the airport to benefit from growth in future traffic volumes, and a new runway at Gatwick would not take significant traffic from Heathrow,” says Xavier Lopez del Rincon, a Moody’s Vice President — Senior Analyst and author of the report. “Gatwick, on the other hand, would be vulnerable to airlines switching to an expanded Heathrow, whilst a new runway at Gatwick would increase its airport charges and could alienate its price-sensitive airlines.”

A runway at Heathrow would allow the airport to accommodate expected growth in London passenger traffic. By 2050, Heathrow would be able to accommodate between 133 and 149 million passengers, [with a new runway] which is almost double current traffic levels. While Heathrow’s hub airport status could come under pressure from a new runway at Gatwick, it would remain London’s largest airport as it would still be expected to handle around 20 million more passengers per annum than Gatwick by 2050. [This ignores the fact that only one runway could, possibly – doubtfully – be built, keeping within UK carbon targets. Two new runways cannot be built, unless the UK breaches its carbon target for 2050]. 

Moody’s expects that Gatwick will be more vulnerable to competition if Heathrow were to build a new runway as it would be at risk of losing scheduled airline traffic to Heathrow, where carriers can typically earn more per passenger mile.

Conversely, the construction of a Gatwick runway would almost double aeronautical charges at the airport, putting it at a huge competitive disadvantage to Stansted, which is its main competitor in the low-cost airlines segment.

Moody’s notes that a Heathrow runway would not affect Stansted, as it is unlikely to experience significant competition from Heathrow, given its specialisation in servicing low-cost carriers, which are entirely absent from Heathrow.

The rating agency expects that the Airports Commission will make its final recommendations in its final report due in summer 2015.

This publication does not announce a credit rating action. For any credit ratings referenced in this publication, please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the most updated credit rating action information and rating history.

https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-A-new-runway-will-have-mixed-credit-implications-for–PR_314716

 

 

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Holland-Kaye interview – unsurprisingly pushes case for larger hub, which means ‘No’ to Gatwick

In a long, slightly obsequious, interview with John Holland-Kaye in Management Today, there are a couple of useful points. Holland-Kaye gives his usual responses to the typical questions, and thought he glosses over anything that does not suit his case, many are persuaded by him (as long as what he says is not critically challenged). One of the main questions is to what extent there will be a continuing, or even a growing, need for a massive hub airport to provide a greater supply of transfer passengers and fill large long-haul aircraft like the A380.  Holland-Kaye is paid to say there is.  However, it may be that the future model is the new generation of smaller long-range twin-engined planes such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner that fly point to point. In that case, the regional airports don’t need to use Heathrow and can have their own direct flights. Management Today wonders, having listened to H-K’s stock of good answers, why “If it’s all so simple, why wasn’t the decision taken years ago?”  It’s not just the politics.  The economic justification, rather than just going with the macho “winning the global race” mantra, is fragile.
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Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye – Globalisation means ‘no’ to Gatwick

By Andrew Saunders (Management Today)

8 December 2014

As London’s new runway battle heats up, Management Today asks the boss of what may soon be only the world’s second busiest airport where he thinks it should go.

Guess what he said?

If there were an annual award for the CEO who is most on top of their brief, then John Holland-Kaye would surely be odds-on to win it.

Heathrow Airport’s affable new CEO may only have been in his job since July, but he has clearly been doing his homework when it comes to the red hot, top priority item in his inbox – the campaign to secure the decision that London’s new runway should be built at Heathrow.

With around eight months left before the Davies Commission plumps for either Heathrow or Gatwick – and only six or so until the General Election – things are definitely warming up, as everyone from the travelling public through the airlines to government and local residents makes their views known.

Heathrow may even be about to lose its ‘World’s busiest airport’ crown – Middle Eastern rival Dubai looks set to shift 71m passengers this year, neck and neck with Heathrow. But Dubai is predicting over 78m in 2015. Oh dear.

Consequently the 49 year-old Holland Kaye – who was Heathrow’s development director before taking over the left hand seat from Colin Matthews – sets out his stall in the determined manner of one who knows that the clock is ticking, and that success in his new role depends upon winning this argument.

Point one – added value. ‘The Davies Commission has stated that expansion at Heathrow will create £211bn of economic value for the country – nearly twice as much as expanding at Gatwick – and 180,000 jobs. That’s almost double the entire NHS budget. It’s a transformational prize and we need to grasp it.’

Point two – Reports of the death of the hub airport have been greatly exaggerated. “The hub and spoke system is one of the most efficient economic models for connecting people and things. It’s what the Royal Mail does, it’s what Google and eBay do” he says.
“The world is changing and we need to be connected to the growth markets in Asia and north and south America. Only the Heathrow hub can support long haul routes like that and help the UK win the race for economic growth.”

This addresses one of the key questions that the Davies Commission will have to answer: is what’s required a bigger hub to provide a greater supply of transfer passengers and fill large long-haul aircraft like the A380? Or a point to point set up to exploit the new generation of smaller long-range twin-engined planes such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner?

His arch-rival, Gatwick’s CEO Stewart Wingate, thinks point to point is the future. Holland-Kaye does not. “Being a hub at the heart of the global economy is better for the UK than being a spoke on someone else’s network, and having to fly via Paris or Frankfurt. That adds time, cost and inconvenience. It’s just not good enough.”

Point three – exports. “Over a quarter of the UK’s exports [by value] go through Heathrow currently. If we want to double exports we can’t do that without expanding at Heathrow.” This is a potent but little known pro-Heathrow point which he is eager to see more widely appreciated. Air freight accounts for 40% of total UK exports by value, 66% of which pass through Heathrow. Despite the fact that the airport is running at capacity, its freight volumes grew by 5.3% in the year to November. That includes everything from foodstuffs to pharmaceuticals and no less than 408 tonnes of diamonds, worth a sparkling £4.3bn.  [It could grow a lot more if there was the demand  – it is only belly hold, with no dedicated freight flights. AW comment].

Finally, lest we forget that any new runway should serve the needs of the entire nation, Heathrow is also, he says, the answer for regional renewal too. “It is the solution for the whole of the UK not just the south east. Not only would it provide more long-haul routes to make London the best connected city in the world, it would also offer new domestic routes to places like Inverness, Liverpool and Humberside, which have been cut off from growth through lack of capacity at Heathrow.”  [Airlines have chosen to cut those routes, as they can make more money by flying other routes. It has been a deliberate choice.  AW note]. 

Hmm. Heathrow may be more accessible for passengers from beyond the capital than Gatwick, but neither can boast the kind of direct mainline rail access enjoyed by other major hubs like Frankfurt or Schiphol. And its location – requiring as it does aircraft to fly at low level over one of the most densely populated parts of Europe – is hardly ideal in other respects. All the same, several regional airports have backed it, including Aberdeen, Leeds-Bradford, Liverpool and Newcastle.

Heathrow’s favoured option is to build a new 3,500m runway one mile to the north west of the existing facilities. The cost? It says £14.8bn, the Airport Commission estimates £18.6bn.

There is also a proposal on the table to extend the existing north runway to make effectively two runways operating in tandem at a cost of between £10bn – £13bn. By comparison, the cost to build a new runway at Gatwick is estimated at a relatively modest £7bn-£10bn.

His predecessor, 57-year-old Colin Matthews, surprised many when he stood down after six successful years at the top, citing the fact that he would be 70 by the time that any new runway was built (not likely to be before 2025). But Matthews – now head of the Highways Agency – was also rumoured to be less than enthusiastic about all the public attention that championing the bid would have entailed. He earned around £2.2m in his final year, and Holland-Kaye is believed to be in line to collect a similar sum.

Holland-Kaye on the other hand has been girding his loins for the media fight to come. Lean, tall and well-dressed, his easy manner and lack of pretention should stand him in good stead for appearing on the telly. “I am more comfortable with the high profile than I thought I would be. You never know what being on live TV will be like until you’ve done it. Now in some ways I prefer it live – it makes you much sharper.”

But what about those who claim that Heathrow’s dominance of the UK airport scene stifles competition and limits customer choice? “The alternative to Heathrow is not Gatwick. If we don’t develop Heathrow, passengers will go via Paris or Frankfurt or Amsterdam instead.  My ambition as chief exec is to take Heathrow from being one of the best airports in Europe to being one of the best in the world. We can absolutely do that.”

But despite – or perhaps partly because – of his seamless logic and ready stock of good answers, eventually the listener begins to wonder. If it’s all so simple, why wasn’t the decision taken years ago? That failure to act is largely political of course, history being littered with governments who have ignored the recommendations of previous official reports, right the way back to the stillborn Maplin Sands – progenitor of the now equally moribund Boris Island – in the 1970s. The spectre of whatever flavour of government is in power after next May dodging the decision yet again, is the one thing which unites both rival airports.

Not that Heathrow’s past efforts have been entirely blameless – particularly the promise of nearly 20 years ago that a third runway would never be built there. He told the Airports Commission earlier this month “I am shocked by that commitment. It should never have been made. And it could never be kept. It has hung over our relationship with local communities.”

By ‘fessing up he hopes to be able to move on. At least, born in Cumbria and with a career in the construction business – he was at housebuilder Taylor-Wimpy before Heathrow – he can claim not to be a native of the metropolitan elite. And a boss who knows how to build things will come in handy should the extra runway get the go-ahead in the end.

Indeed, a recent Populis poll suggested a surprising degree of local support, with – admittedly sometimes modest – majorities in favour of a third runway in eight out of nine nearby constituencies, [highly biased polls, with leading questions – not a true reflection of opinion. AW comment] despite widespread concerns over additional noise pollution for the 725,000 people who live under the flightpath. The prospect of an extra 40,000 jobs in the immediate vicinity must help.

Holland-Kaye himself now lives in Oxfordshire with his wife and two kids, but spent many years in Fulham spotting aircraft coming in and out of Heathrow in his garden. “I enjoyed sitting out there watching the tailfins come over, and I wasn’t even in the business then.

“But I’ve always enjoyed travel, there is something glamorous about the possibilities of it. The plane on this stand might take you somewhere prosaic like Brussels, but the plane on that stand could be going somewhere you’ve heard of but never been, like Zanzibar. It still gives me a thrill.”

The crux of his case remains tied to the gravitational allure of far-off places. To keep playing with the big boys and girls of the global economy, he says, the UK needs a grown-up, globally-competitive airport with direct flights to all points east in particular.

The future is more business class to Chengdu than cattle class to the Costa del Sol, he reckons. “My eldest daughter had to choose between GCSE French and Mandarin. She chose Mandarin, because she says it will take her further in her life than French.

“It’s a good analogy for Heathrow versus Gatwick. Gatwick is all about flights to Europe, whereas Heathrow is about taking her to the rest of the world. It would be a tragedy if our generation let kids like her down.”

So he is engaging, plausible and sincere.  [Is he? Seems not to actually have straight answers to a lot of questions, and avoided many at the recent Airports Commission evidence session on 3rd December. And some of the responses are downright disingenuous, always omitting any inconvenient facts that don’t suit his case. Far from being highly convincing.  AW comment].

But is he right, and will he prevail? In the end it will likely come down to politics. Airports Commissioner (and MT diarist) Howard Davies, is a wily bird who knows this and is giving nothing away. We – and the bosses of Heathrow and Gatwick – will just have to wait and see.

HEATHROW’S THIRD RUNWAY IN NUMBERS

Length of new NW runway: 3,500m

Est cost: £18.6bn

Est completion: 2025

Capacity: 740,000 flights pa (currently 480,000)

Landing charges: ca £30 per passenger (currently £24)

Economic value created: £112bn-£211bn

http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/news/1325497/heathrow-ceo-john-holland-kaye-globalisation-means-no-gatwick/

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Public invited to Gatwick drop-in session with Airports Commission 6 – 8pm on Tues 16th December in Crawley

On Tuesday 16th December, the Airports Commission will be holding its second full public discussion day on airport runway proposals, about Gatwick.  The first was about Heathrow, on 3rd December. The Commission has now announced there will be a public drop-in session, available to anyone who wishes to attend, from 6 – 8pm on Tuesday 16th. There is no need to have a ticket.   The Commission says the purpose of this drop in session is for Commission staff to hear first-hand from people to be affected locally. Commission staff will be available to answer questions, and help people find the information they need in order to respond to the Airports Commission runway consultation, that closes on 3rd February. The main meeting during the day is by ticket only, as capacity is limited and there has been huge demand. There are no more tickets available. However, the Commission will be publishing a full transcript on their website so those unable to attend can read what was said.  But everyone is invited to attend the 6 – 8pm session at the Arora Hotel, Crawley.
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Airports Commission Consultation: Gatwick Area Drop In Session

Members of the team supporting the Commission will be available to provide advice
on responding to its consultation on proposals for additional airport capacity in the
Longley Suite, Arora Hotel, Crawley from 18:00 to 20:00 on Tuesday 16 December 2014.
Tickets are not required to attend this event.

The Airports Commission has over the past six months carried out a significant
amount of work to analyse the economic, business and environmental impacts of the
proposals for additional capacity at Heathrow Airport. It has recently published the
results of this analysis for public consultation.

An important part of this process is to hear from those people likely to be impacted by
the proposals and we would like to encourage people to respond. The consultation
runs until 3 February 2015, and the consultation materials, including information on
how to respond, can be accessed on our website.

To hear views at first hand the Commission has also set up a public discussion session
on 16 December at the Arora Hotel, Crawley.

This will enable it to hear views from local communities and their elected representatives. This session has proved to be very popular and we will be publishing a full transcript on our website so those unable to attend are able to read what was said.

The Commission would encourage people to respond to the consultation, and look
forward to taking their views on board as we enter the final phase of our work to
identify the best overall proposal.

Drop in session Address
Longley Suite
Arora Hotel
Southgate Ave,
Crawley,
West Sussex
RH10 6LW
The venue is adjacent to Crawley station.
Parking: Parking is available at the hotel on a first come, first served basis. Guests
requiring step free access should park at surface level..


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Airports Commission Gatwick Public Discussion Session – 16 December 2014.

Arora Hotel

Southgate Ave,

Crawley,   RH10 6LW

No-one who is not pre-registered will be given access to the venue. 

Airports Commissioners present at the event.

Sir Howard Davies (Chair)
Sir John Armitt
Professor Dame Julia King
Professor Ricky Burdett

 

 Programme

To manage the event effectively, the Commission intends to stick rigidly to the programme.

Time Section (Invited) Witnesses Section Breakdown
0930-0945 Introduction Sir Howard Davies 1x 15 minute
0945-1000 Scheme Promoters Stewart Wingate

Chief Executive

Gatwick Airport Limited

1×15 minute proposal summary
1000-1030 Members of Parliament Henry Smith MP (Crawley)

Crispin Blunt MP (Reigate)

 

2×10 minute witness statements to include questions to promoters

 

1×10 minute promoter right to respond and Commission follow-up

1030-1050 Comfort Break
1050-1130 Community Groups Brendon Sewill (GACC)

Sally Pavey (CAGNE)

Major Richard Streatfeild (HWCAAG)

3×8 minute witness statements to include questions to promoters

 

1×15 minute promoter right to response and Commission follow-up

1130-1200 Public Statements from Public Gallery 1-2 minute statements
1200-1245 Lunch Break
1245-1400 Local Authority Leaders Cllr Peter Lamb (Crawley BC)

Cllr Paul Carter (Kent CC)

Cllr Louise Goldsmith (West Sussex CC)

Cllr Peter Martin (Surrey CC)

Cllr Tony Newman (LB Croydon)

5×10 minute witness statements to include questions to promoters

 

1×15 minute promoter right to response and Commission follow-up

1400-1415 Comfort Break
1415-1455 Business Representatives Martin Heffer, (Coast to Capital LEP)

Jeremy Taylor, Chief Executive,  (Gatwick Diamond)

Cath Lynn, Group Commercial Director, (easyJet Plc.)

3×8 minute witness statements to include questions to promoters

 

1×10 minute promoter right to respond and Commission follow-up

1455-1530 Public Statements from Public Gallery 1-2 minute statements
1530-1545 Closing Remarks Sir Howard Davies 1×15 minute

 

 

 

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Near miss of drone with plane landing at Heathrow in July – unregulated drones a potential safety hazard

The CAA has released information about a category A (the most serious risk of collision) near miss incident, of an Airbus A320 (which can carry up to 180 people) approaching Heathrow, over London, coming close to an unidentified drone. The incident was on 22nd July 2014 at 1416 GMT. The A320 pilot reported seeing a helicopter-style drone as the jet was 700 feet off the ground. The CAA has not identified the airline. The drone is reported to have been within 20 feet of the plane’s wing. The drone had not appeared on air traffic control radar and disappeared after the encounter. In another incident, in May 2014 the pilot of an ATR 72 turbo-prop plane reported seeing a helicopter drone only 80 feet away as he approached Southend at a height of 1,500 feet.  Now BALPA has warned that the large number of drones operated by amateur enthusiasts now poses “a real risk” to commercial aircraft.  Sales of drones have increased rapidly, with UK sales of 1,000 – 2,000 every month.  Costing as little as £35 for a basic one, they will be popular as Christmas presents – more advanced drones costing £3,000 can carry a high definition camera. Buyers have no training, but they are meant to stay below 400ft and avoid areas close to airports. There is no way to enforce these requirements.

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This is the CAA safety summary for drones and CAA website


Heathrow plane in near miss with drone

7.12.2014

Nick Beake reports on what is known about the drone incident at Heathrow  (see short video clip

Related BBC Stories

An unidentified drone came close to hitting a plane as it landed at Heathrow, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed.

An Airbus A320 pilot reported seeing a helicopter-style drone as the jet was 700 feet off the ground on its approach to the runway at 1416 GMT on 22 July.

The CAA has not identified the airline or how close the drone came to the plane, which can carry 180 people.

It gave the incident an “A” rating, meaning a “serious risk of collision”.

This is the highest incident rating the CAA can give.

Investigators were unable to identify the drone, which did not appear on air traffic control radar and disappeared after the encounter.

Crash warning

In May the pilot of an ATR 72 turbo-prop plane reported seeing a helicopter drone only 80 feet away as he approached Southend airport at a height of 1,500 feet.

The incidents have prompted a warning from the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) that the rapid increase in the number of drones operated by amateur enthusiasts now poses “a real risk” to commercial aircraft.

The association’s general secretary, Jim McAuslan said drones could cause a repeat of the “Hudson River experience”, when a plane was forced to land in water in New York in 2009 after birds were sucked into its engines.

“The risk of a 10 kilogram object hitting a plane is a real one that pilots are very concerned about” he said.

“A small drone could be a risky distraction for a pilot coming into land and cause serious damage if they hit one.”

Sales of drones have increased rapidly, with UK sales running at a rate of between 1,000 and 2,000 every month.

They are expected to be very popular as Christmas presents.

They cost as little as £35 for a smaller model – more advanced drones capable of carrying a high definition camera and travelling at 45 miles per hour cost almost £3,000.

Only a very small minority of people operating drones have attended training courses in how to fly them.

‘Common sense’

A spokesman for the CAA said it had to depend on people using their common sense when they operated drones.

He said the current level of risk should be “kept in perspective” but warned that breaking laws governing the use of drones could potentially threaten commercial aircraft.

A drone
The CAA said it had to depend on people using their common sense when they operated drones

“People using unmanned aircraft need to think, use common sense and take responsibility for them”, he said.

“There are rules which have the force of law and have to be followed.”

Drones may not be flown higher than 400 feet or further than 500 metres from the operator, and they must not go within 50 metres of people, vehicles or buildings.

There are exclusion zones around airports and the approaches to them for drones weighing more than seven kilograms.

Mr McAuslan said there was an urgent need for rules to be tightened before much larger unmanned cargo planes – potentially the size of a Boeing 737 – took to the skies.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30369701

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Drone was ‘within 20ft’ of crashing into passenger plane landing at Heathrow

Report finds that remote-controlled model helicopter almost caused a mid-air collision, after flying into path of an Airbus A320 jet landing at Heathrow

By Tom Brooks-Pollock

12 Dec 2014 (Telegraph)

A drone came within 20ft of striking a passenger aircraft shortly before it was due to land as Heathrow Airport, a report into the ‘near-miss’ has found.

The model helicopter passed dangerously close to the Airbus A320, 700ft above the ground on July 22 this year, according the report by the UK Airprox Board, the regulator.

It was the second recorded near-miss, or ‘airprox’, between a commercial passenger flight and a drone in Britain, and the first at Heathrow.

Officials concluded that the pilot of the remote-controlled aircraft, who has not been identified, “had chosen to fly it in an entirely inappropriate location.”

Crew on board the passenger flight had seen the drone, which flew 20ft over the A320’s wing, the report said. It was not picked up on radar, probably because of its small size.

It added: “That the dangers associated with flying such a model in close proximity to a Commercial Air Transport aircraft in the final stages of landing were not self-evident was a cause for considerable concern.”

Investigators contacted local model-flying club groups but were unable to identify the model helicopter involved, or its operator.

Members of the public are being reminded by the Civil Aviation Authority that it is illegal to fly drones, which are expected to be a popular Christmas present this year, in restricted airspace, including in flight paths.

The report said: “The Board were heartened to hear of work being undertaken by the CAA to bring the issue of remotely piloted aircraft operations to wider public attention.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/aviation/11289406/Drone-was-within-20ft-of-crashing-into-passenger-plane-landing-at-Heathrow.html

 


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Drone in near miss scare at 700ft with Heathrow airliner: Fears that this year’s Christmas must-have gadgets could cause disaster in the skies

  • Incident was rated as risk rating of A – the most serious of near-collisions
  • Pilot spotted the drone at 700ft after air traffic control radars had missed it
  • It comes amid growing concerns about drones being flown by amateurs
  • Drones expected to be Christmas best-seller with models as cheap as £35

A drone flying near Heathrow almost crashed into a passenger jet – raising fears that this year’s must-have Christmas gift could cause a disaster in the skies over Britain.

The remote-controlled device, flown by an unidentified amateur, was spotted by the airliner’s pilot but alarmingly was not detected by air traffic control radars.

The UK Airprox Board, the air safety panel that investigates near misses, gave the incident the highest risk rating of A, meaning there was a ‘serious risk of collision’.

Scroll down for video 

A drone flying near Heathrow almost crashed into a passenger jet raising fears that this year’s must-have Christmas gift could cause a disaster - the remote-controlled device was flown by an unidentified amateur

It was the first near miss between a passenger jet and an unmanned aircraft at Britain’s biggest airport.

It comes after warnings over the dangers posed to passenger planes by recreational drones flown by amateurs.

They are expected to be a best-seller this Christmas, with models as cheap as £35 being snapped up.

Sales have risen rapidly – around 2,000 a month are being bought – and electronics retailer Maplin said they are currently one of its biggest sellers.

The most sophisticated designs cost up to £3,000.

A plane had a near miss with drone as it landed at Heathrow (pictured) on July 22 in the first recorded incident

They can include cameras and are usually used for recreational purposes – although increasingly they are being considered for commercial uses, such as carrying deliveries and monitoring farmers’ crops.

The Airprox Board will publish a report later this week into the Heathrow incident, which involved an Airbus A320 that can carry up to 180 passengers.

The jet was flying at an altitude of 700ft on the afternoon of July 22 this year when the pilot spotted the drone. He reported the near miss and an inquiry was launched by the board.

Worryingly, investigators were unable to identify the drone and it disappeared after the sighting.

It is the latest in a series of incidents involving unmanned planes.

In May, the pilot of a 74-seat plane reported that a quadcopter drone flew within 80ft as he was approaching Southend airport and in December 2012, the crew of a Boeing 777 coming in to land at Gatwick said they saw ‘two white or silver discs’.

Drones (file picture) are priced from just £35 and sales have jumped thanks to extra pre-Christmas demand.

In April this year, the owner of a remote-controlled plane was ordered to pay £4,340 in fines and costs after his machine crashed in a no-fly zone near a shipyard in Cumbria for defence company BAE Systems, where nuclear submarines were being built.

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) has demanded better protection for the public against the risk of drones.

There are currently few rules on operating drones. But Balpa wants them to meet the same safety standards as piloted aircraft, including only being flown by operators with pilot-equivalent training.

Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan said: ‘The UK should become a “safe drone zone” so we can make the most of the major business and leisure opportunities offered by remotely piloted aircraft, while protecting passengers, pilots and residents.’

The device was spotted by the pilot but was not detected by air traffic control radars at Heathrow.

He added: ‘The technology is developing quickly and we could see remote aircraft the same size as a Boeing 737 being operated commercially in our skies within ten years.’

In October, intelligence experts warned of the misuse of drones and called for ‘urgent’ measures to safeguard British airspace to cope with commercial use, which is expected to be more widespread by 2035.

Their research for a University of Birmingham report said that the ‘hazards presented by inadvertent or accidental misuse of [drones], or the consequences of their malfunctioning, are becoming better understood’.

And a conference on unmanned craft in London last month heard that police were worried about injuries on Boxing Day when amateur ‘pilots’ try out their new drones.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2864691/Drone-near-miss-scare-700ft-Heathrow-airliner.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

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