After EPA “endangerment finding” USA starting to take CO2 emissions from aviation seriously

The Obama administration has now released a scientific finding from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that greenhouse gases from aircraft pose a risk to human health. This is called an “endangerment finding” and it paves the way for regulating CO2 emissions from the US aviation industry.  It would allow the US to implement a global CO2 emissions standard for new aircraft, that is being developed by ICAO.  However, the ICAO CO2 standard will only start in late 2016 and only apply to new plane designs certified from 2020, leaving most of the world’s existing fleets unaffected for years to come.  But James Lees, from AEF, writing in a blog, says this EPA move could mark a turning point in efforts to regulate CO2 emissions from aviation globally.  While most sectors are expected to cut their emissions, the CO2 from aviation is expected to triple by 2050. Today’s airline fleet is more carbon efficient than it was in the early 1970s but efficiency improvements slowed down dramatically since 2000 – while passenger demand grows at 5.5% per year. It is hoped the UK, the EU and the US can now push for an effective global standard.


America Is Finally Taking Emissions From Flying Seriously – So Let’s Not Drop the Ball

11.6.2015 (Huffington Post)
By James Lees, from AEF


Past attempts to find a global way of dealing with aviation’s carbon emissions have fallen short, most recently with European countries like the UK trying to impose a carbon regulation but lacking international support, particularly from across the pond.

So today’s announcement by the American Environmental Protection Agency that carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft are a danger to the health of the public could mark a turning point.

It is not surprising (the agency had already ruled that greenhouse gas emissions present a risk to US citizens) but given the aviation sector is increasingly culpable when it comes to climate change, the consequences of the ruling could be monumental.

Aviation accounts for around 2.5% of global CO2 emissions, roughly equivalent to Germany’s total output (which is the country with the seventh highest emissions in the World) . While most sectors are expected to cut their emissions, aviation is expected to grow its carbon footprint, with it potentially tripling by 2050.

The challenge for aviation, being an international activity by nature, is finding leadership to tackle its emissions. The European Union tried by including aviation in the European emissions scheme but strong political and industry pressure led to the scheme’s coverage being cut by two thirds.

Now the US environment agency’s finding paves the way for a different approach, most likely initially a performance standard for aircraft CO2 emissions.

One of aviation’s unique privileges is that it is the only transport sector without a standard for CO2 emissions anywhere in the world and yet it urgently needs some kind of measure to push future efficiency improvements. Today’s airline fleet is undoubtedly much more efficient than it was back in the early 1970s but efficiency improvements have slowed down dramatically since 2000 at a time when the global number of airline passengers is growing at around 5.5% per year.

The UN aviation body (ICAO) is already working on a CO2 emissions standard, which could make things easy for the US (it is likely just to include a global standard in its national legislation) and keep the industry satisfied. However, the standard being developed globally may not be fit for purpose – there’s a risk that it will not drive the improvements needed and ultimately have little to no impact on CO2 emissions. It could also only apply to new types of aircraft (rather than the types that have only just hit service such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner), meaning it may only cover a small fraction of the fleet in 2030, hardly an example of the ambitious climate policies required to globally meet the 2°C target.

Here is where the UK could help. With the EU and, this time, the support of the US, we could push for an effective global standard.

It would make cutting emissions in our own countries easier, help reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels, and could be a useful step towards a globally coordinated approach to bringing aviation in line with wider climate commitments. Tackling aviation emissions will require a whole range of measures beyond efficiency measures including offsetting future emissions and a very cautious approach to new airport capacity.

The UK is currently considering a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick. But any hope that this could be compatible with our climate goals depends on speculative assumptions about future action to tackle the sector’s CO2 emissions. An effective aircraft standard could be one part of the solution.

The global aviation sector needs to start playing catch up with other transport modes on measures to tackle emissions and the UK and EU are well placed to maintain their leadership on the issue, especially now the US is on board.


EPA Takes First Step To Regulate Aircraft Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(Updates with quote from EPA finding)

By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON, June 10 (Reuters)

The Obama administration on Wednesday released a scientific finding that greenhouse gases from aircraft pose a risk to human health, paving the way for regulating emissions from the U.S. aviation industry.

The “endangerment finding” by the Environmental Protection Agency would allow the administration to implement a global carbon dioxide emissions standard being developed by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization.

In its 194-page finding, the EPA said it took “a preliminary but necessary first step to begin to address greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector, the highest-emitting category of transportation sources that the EPA has not yet addressed.”

The ICAO is due to release its CO2 standard in February 2016, with the aim of adopting it later that year.

But the requirement is expected to apply only to new aircraft designs certified from 2020, leaving most of the world’s existing fleets unaffected for years to come.

Aviation accounted for 11 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector in 2013, and nearly 30 percent of global aircraft emissions in 2010, the latest year with complete global emissions data.

The EPA’s ruling will mark the first step toward regulating aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions, and aviation will become the latest industrial sector to be regulated under the Clean Air Act after cars, trucks and large stationary sources like power plants.

But it came only after a federal court ruled in 2012 in favor of environmental groups that had sued the EPA, saying it was obligated to regulate aircraft emissions under the law.

The airline industry favors a global standard over individual national standards since carriers operate all over the world and want to avoid a patchwork of rules and measures, such as taxes, charges and emissions trading programs.

“If you’re a big airline and you’re flying to 100 countries a day, then complying with all those different regimes is an administrative nightmare,” said Paul Steele, senior vice president at the International Air Transport Association, the industry’s main global organization.

But some environmental groups are concerned that the standard being discussed at ICAO will do little to change the status quo right now.

“The stringency being discussed at ICAO is such that existing aircraft are already meeting the standard they are weighing,” said Sarah Burt, a lawyer at Earthjustice, one of several groups that sued the EPA.

Planes generally stay in service for 20 or 30 years, she added.

International Council on Clean Transportation Program Director Dan Rutherford said that to ensure real emissions reductions from airlines, ICAO should apply a carbon dioxide standard to all new aircraft delivered after 2020.

But ICAO is weighing a standard that would apply only to new designs certified after the expected application date of Jan. 1, 2020.

Such an approach would mean the standard would only cover about 5 percent of the global aircraft fleet in 2030, he said. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; additional reporting by Victoria Bryan in Miami; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Christian Plumb)






US move to curb airplane emissions ‘may amount to greenwashing’

Environmental Protection Agency expected to extend regulation of carbon emissions to airplanes, but green groups criticise anticipated lack of ambition

The US EPA is expected to formally declare its intent to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from airplane pollution.

By Suzanne Goldenberg (Guardian)


Environmental groups have warned that the first step by the Obama administration to curb rapidly rising carbon pollution from airplanes, expected as early as Friday, may amount to little more than greenwashing. The announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency is eight years in the making and comes in response to lawsuits from environmental groups, and a failed effort by the European Union to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, one of the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions.

With Friday’s expected announcement, the EPA will extend regulation of carbon pollution from power plants, cars and trucks, to air planes. The move puts the EPA on pace with the International Civil Aviation Organisation in setting global rules for carbon pollution.

But those rules, due to be adopted in February 2016, are unlikely to deliver any significant reductions in carbon pollution, environmental groups said. “It’s not a particularly ambitious action,” said Sarah Burt, a lawyer for Earthjustice which first sued the EPA in 2007 on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups. “You will get a standard that is not at all ambitious at best and at worst is essentially greenwashing.”

The EPA and the White House would not comment on the announcement in advance. The first step of the EPA process begins unfolding on Friday when the agency will formally declare its intent to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions from airplane pollution. The airline industry had fought for years to delay just such a measure – and in 2012 forced the EU to back down on its plans of cutting greenhouse gas emissions on international flights.

Obama at the time had sided with the airline industry in its refusal to fall into line with the EU plan. The new ICAO targets in some ways represent a victory for that stonewalling – buying the airlines time and weakening the rules. The international air authority had struggled for 20 years to deal with climate change. “The EPA has dragged its heels and delayed with its eyes on the international negotiations,” Burt said. “The EPA does not want to go out ahead of the international community.”

The international rules are expected to be exceedingly weak, with virtually all of the airplanes flying today making the grade, which means ICAO is unlikely to deliver any real reductions on greenhouse gas emissions. “It is a CO2 standard but everyone already meets the standard so it results not only in no decrease, but also in a net increase when you see how emissions stand,” Burt said.

Carbon pollution from airplanes is expected to double by 2020. US airline carriers on their own account for about a quarter of global aviation emissions. A number of developing countries, such as India, are expected to see big increases in air travel over the coming decades.


U.S. may take first step to curb airline emissions this week



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans as soon as Friday to determine whether carbon dioxide from aircraft endangers public health, a first step to regulating emissions from the aviation sector, sources familiar with the rulemaking process said.

The EPA has yet to issue its “endangerment finding,” despite pressure from environmental groups who first sued the agency to start the rulemaking process in 2010. A federal court in 2011 said the EPA must address aircraft emissions under the U.S. Clean Air Act.

The EPA had initially promised the finding would be ready in 2014.

Most observers expect the EPA to say that aviation emissions endanger public health but are not sure how much the agency and the Federal Aviation Authority will reveal about their vision for a carbon dioxide emissions standard for new aircraft.

“We have efficiency standards for cars, trucks, but we don’t have one for airplanes,” said Annie Petsonk, international counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. “We think this is an industry that has great potential in technical terms, and there is nothing like having an ambitious standard to drive innovation.”

A domestic rulemaking process would lay the groundwork for the United States to adopt a global carbon dioxide standard currently being developed through the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization.

ICAO is also working on an international “market-based mechanism” to push airlines to slash their emissions, with a goal of final approval in 2016.

U.S. airlines, which favor a global industry standard, said they were encouraged that the EPA and FAA are cooperating with ICAO as the UN body works to develop it.

“As aviation is a global industry … it is critical that aircraft emissions standards continue to be agreed at the international level,” said Vaughn Jennings, managing director for government and regulatory communications for U.S. airline lobby group Airlines for America.

Environmental groups hope the EPA’s announcement will be more ambitious.

“We hope the EPA can push the envelope beyond what ICAO is looking at,” said Ben Longstreth of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of five green groups that sued the EPA to speed up its rulemaking.

Andrew Murphy, a policy officer at Brussels-based NGO Transportation and Environment, said European regulators might also step up pressure on ICAO to deliver a strong standard.

“The European Aviation Safety Agency has raised the prospect of setting European standards if global ones prove insufficient,” he said.

Global aviation emissions are on pace to triple by 2050 if they continue unregulated, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.




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Residents in Colnbrook with Poyle parish will demand local referendum on Heathrow runway

A meeting of Colnbrook with Poyle Parish has been called for June 16th by residents who intend to invoke a clause in the 1972 Local Government Act. This allows them to trigger a referendum  – this one would be on a Heathrow runway. (Either of the Heathrow runway plans would mean effectively the end of Colnbrook – one going slightly north of it, and the other slightly south). Residents agree that a Colnbrook Runway and the Slough International Freight Exchange (SIFE) could completely transform the parish over the next few years. Residents are angry that neither Colnbrook Parish Council nor Slough Borough Council have asked them for their views – yet both have presumed to make policy decisions with potentially enormous consequences for the future of the village … and those who live in it. Hence the meeting on 16th. The first item on the agenda is whether or not to call for a Local Referendum on the Heathrow issue. Colnbrook with Poyle Parish Council dismissed a call for a local referendum at a Parish Council meeting on November 4th. SIFE will also be discussed, to see if there is support for resurrecting the stop SIFE campaign in view of the imminent SIFE appeal.


Residents prepare to demand Local Referendum on Heathrow as unprecedented Parish Meeting called

by  (Colnbrook Views)


A Meeting of the Parish has been called for June 16 by residents who intend to invoke a clause in the 1972 Local Government Act to trigger a referendum on a Colnbrook Runway.

In an event unprecedented in the twenty year history of the parish of Colnbrook with Poyle, aMeeting of the Parish has today been called … by parishioners themselves!

Everybody agrees that a Colnbrook Runway and SIFE could completely transform the parish over the next few years.  Some say that is a good thing, others are vehemently opposed to change.  However, residents are angry that neither Colnbrook Parish Council nor Slough Borough Council have asked them for their views – yet both have presumed to make policy decisions with potentially enormous consequences for the future of the village … and those who live in it.

Aggrieved that elected representatives have failed to reach out to the community at large, residents have taken it upon themselves to do it anyway!

Colnbrook with Poyle Parish Council dismissed a call for a local referendum at a Parish Council meeting on November 4, without even a vote of councillors.  Only a show of hands from a few dozen at the Village Hall has given councillors the presumption that resolute opposition to the runway plans exists.  Tempers frayed at the Annual Meeting of the Parish when one resident, Roy Sanders, angrily protested the opposite - supported by newbie Cllr Kinane.

Today it can be announced that residents of the parish, both for and against expansion, have come together to call for a Meeting of the Parish later this month to discuss a possible Heathrow Third Runway through the village and the Slough International Freight Exchange (SIFE).

First item on the agenda is whether or not to call for a Local Referendum on the Heathrow issue.

While the Conservatives’ moves to empower communities embedded in the Localism agenda and the ‘Big Society’ were quickly watered down by the last Government, archaic clauses in the Local Government Act 1972 give parished areas of the country unique powers.  The right to hold a local referendum, denied to most of the borough of Slough, can be triggered by any one of the three parishes – with or without the backing of their Parish Councils.

There was criticism at the Annual Meeting of the Parish on May 19 that a request to place Heathrow on the agenda had been illegally refused in favour of a Q&A session.  Now, with the Parish Council refusing to discuss a referendum, six residents have stepped forward to exercise their legal right to do the same.

Slough Borough Council held its own consultation on Heathrow, which finished just before the Airports Commission published its analysis on the three shortlisted options.  Just 52 residents responded to the survey (across the borough, let alone Colnbrook), or 0.06% of the electorate (92,630, 2011), which found a generally positive attitude about the airport despite concerns about air quality and noise.  The result, which did not ask whether residents would favour a third runway, was nevertheless used by Cabinet to guide its decision to support expansion.  Richmond, Hillingdon and Hounslow councils did give their residents a referendum on Heathrow in 2013.

The spirited six who have supported the meeting call should see the motion passed with little difficulty.   Under the little used clause in the 1972 Act, if just ten electors vote in favour the motion is carried.

Slough Borough Council would be obliged under the rules to administer a poll within 14 and 25 days of notification of the result of the meeting.  With the bill for both being passed to the Parish Council, that could raise the prospect of a Local Referendum and by-election (for the two vacancies on the Parish Council failed to be taken up by the Cheemas) being held on the same day.

The meeting will also discuss the Slough International Freight Exchange (SIFE) to gauge whether there is support in the community for resurrecting the stopSIFE campaign in view of the imminent SIFE appeal.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 16, at 8pm in the upstairs function room of The Ostrich and will be open to everybody to attend … and speak.





The Slough International Freight Exchange (SIFE) is a proposed lorry park and warehousing development on the Strategic Gap of the Metropolitan Green Belt – the 182 acres of land that separates Slough from London, north of Colnbrook Bypass. Justification for the use of this Green Belt site, the former Tanhouse Farm Gravel Pits, is claimed because it is intended to build a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) – that is it will include a purpose built rail link, and infrastructure to enable freight to be easily shifted from train to lorry – thus delivering against a long term environmental strategy of moving freight by rail rather than road.

… and more at


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FAiR citizens’ movement in Chicago wins the right to take part in talks on flight paths

O’Hare airport in Chicago has 10 runways. The local campaign group, FAiR (Fair Allocation in Runways) has been campaigning for some time for all the diagonal runways to be used, in order to distribute the noise more fairly over surrounding areas. Now FAiR has won the right to have a seat at the table in talks about the noise problem with Illinois State and Chicago City officials and the FAA. A new Joint House Resolution also acknowledges the validity of city and suburban residents’ complaints about the drastic increase in planes, noise and pollution since the October 2013 changes in flight patterns and runway usage at the airport – due to NextGen (the US equivalent of PBN and concentrated flight paths that are becoming a serious problem in the UK). In addition, the resolution calls for the city to ask the FAA to delay any action regarding the diagonal runways due to be decommissioned until all hearings and meetings are completed. They also want the FAA to hold meetings about the aircraft noise problem in the areas newly impacted by the October 2013 changes. FAiR say the only three previous hearings on the O’Hare Modernization Plan held in 2005 were intentionally conducted outside the noise contour area and were minimally announced to the public.


FAiR’s Citizen­ Led Movement Succeeds Again!

1.6.2015 (FAiR – Fair Allocation in  Runways, in Chicago – near O’Hare airport)

FAiR is a coalition of community organizations dedicated to the equitable distribution of O’Hare aircraft traffic.

FAiR Has Achieved Its Main Demand and Will Have a Seat at Table with City, FAA and Elected Officials

Following on the heels of the passage of its legislation in Senate Bill 636 last week in the Illinois Legislature,the Fair Allocation in Runways (FAiR) Coalition is now pleased to announce the passage this week of House Joint Resolution 0083 (HJR83,view it at, which finally provides FAiR the seat at the table it has sought since its inception and also acknowledges the validity of city and suburban residents’ complaints
about the drastic increase in planes, noise and pollution since the October 2013 changes in flight patterns and runway usage at O’Hare airport.

HJR83 calls for three additional meetings to be held by August 2015 to assess the impact so far of the O’Hare Modernization Plan (OMP) and guarantees that FAiR will have an
equal seat at the table in those discussions with the Chicago Department of Aviation, the FAA, the Mayor’s Office and State elected legislative leaders.

In addition, the resolution calls for the city to ask the FAA to delay any action regarding the diagonal runways due to be decommissioned until all hearings and meetings are completed, and asks that the FAA hold its already­ announced four hearings also on the noise impact of the OMP only in areas newly impacted by the October 2013 changes.

This is critical, as FAiR alleged and a Sun­Times investigation revealed that the only three previous hearings on OMP held in 2005 were intentionally conducted outside of the noise contour area and were minimally announced to the public.

“This is a huge, huge victory for everyone in both the city and suburbs whose quality of life has been diminished by the massive increase in planes, noise and pollution.” said Jac Charlier, FAiR Co­Founder.  “We’ve built FAiR into the largest citizen ­led civic movement around and it has a tremendous voice. Very special thanks to to Senator Mulroe and Representative Martwick, who pushed so hard for their constituents and all those impacted by O’Hare. They did not give up when SB637 got stalled and came up with an alternate solution.”

He added that, “The citizens will finally have the seat at the table that they have been
asking for and that they rightly deserve. We can finally have the community conversation we knew needed to take place before major decisions about O’Hare are ever made again. This coming together of citizens, communities, elected officials is exactly what we’ve been working towards to find solutions that balance the importance of O’Hare with the needs of the neighborhoods and their people.”

FAiR has always maintained that keeping all diagonal runways open and operational would provide many options for solutions to the high concentration of planes, noise and pollution over a narrow band of dense residential areas east and west of the airport.

Since 2013, FAiR was told repeatedly by the CDA’s former commissioner that state law prohibited more than eight runways at the airport. FAiR launched its “Save the Diagonals” campaign earlier this spring seeking to change that state law.

In early April Senator John Mulroe (D­10th) met with FAiR and subsequently introduced two bills: SB 636, which called for increasing the total number of runways allowable at O’Hare Airport from 8 to 10, and SB 637, which would have prohibited the decommissioning of the diagonal runways and mandate that they be maintained for equitably distributing air traffic around O’Hare.

SB 636, with an amendment added by Rep. Marty Moylan (D­55th) calling for stricter noise measurements, passed both chambers of the Illinois Legislature and now awaits the Governor’s signature.

SB 637 ran into difficulty regarding the question of which entities may make decisions about runways at O’Hare and ultimately was not passed. The joint resolution, sponsored by Rep. Robert Martwick (D­19th) in the House and Sen. John Mulroe in the Senate, clarifies that only the FAA and City of Chicago may make those decisions, and calls for a pause in further runway projects until the impact on residents can be fully assessed.

“I’m relieved the diagonals will remain in place while the meetings take place. I’m heartened that the city is finally going to meet with FAiR,” said Colleen Mulcrone, Leadership Team member. “So many elected officials, when we met with them about this issue, were eager to be supportive when they realized the drastic impact on residents … Senator Mulroe, Rep. Moylan, Rep. Martwick, Congresswoman Duckworth and Congressman Quigley, who himself has spoken loudly on this issue …I’m so grateful for their leadership and action. Now that it’s finally clear that the city has the authority to make decisions about the runways, I’m
eager for FAiR to meet with them to talk about solutions, and hopeful for a good outcome for all of our communities.”



The Fair Allocation in Runways (FAiR) Coalition is a rapidly growing movement of citizens and civics on Chicago’s Northwest side and the near Northwest suburbs.

FAiR is the leading voice for both city and suburban residents negatively impacted by the new runway takeoff and landing patterns. FAiR supports the economic engine that is
O’Hare while also seeking a real role in when and where those engines fly over the residents, homes, parks and schools of impacted communities. FAiR recognizes that two more runways are yet to be completed and the problems posed by yet more massive increases in airplane traffic will only become worse if citizens do not have a voice in the process.
FAiR requests residents report airplane noise complaints online throughout the day at or 800­435­9569. Citizens and civic organizations are invited to learn more about and join FAiR at 

FAiR is also on Facebook

FAiR is also on Twitter 


See earlier:

Illinois State Senate passes bills designed to reduce O’Hare jet noise

In late 2013 the flight paths at Chicago O’Hare airport were changed, and since then thousands of residents have been exposed to far more aircraft noise. The authorities are trying to find ways to reduce their noise exposure.  The Illinois Senate has now unanimously approved legislation to mitigate jet noise by increasing the cap on the number of runways to 10 from 8, and prohibiting the city of Chicago from closing and demolishing any of the airport’s 4 diagonal runways. The aim is to distribute the noise more evenly. The two bills are aimed at expanding O’Hare flight paths are going next to the Illinois House of Representatives for consideration.  If one of the diagonal runways is closed, its flights will be distributed to the other runways, causing more noise for some people. Keeping 10 runways operational at O’Hare would increase maintenance costs. And while all 10 runways would never be used simultaneously, the more complex airfield layout could create safety risks involving more planes taxiing across runways on their way to the gate or other runways. Noise complaints filed online and to a city-operated hot line totalled 39,500 in January, setting a new monthly record.  In 2014, for the whole year, noise complaints totalled 268,211, also an all-time high.




Chicago voters get chance to be heard in public ballot on O’Hare airport noise problem

Chicago O’Hare airport has a new 4th runway that opened in October 2013 as well another new 5th runway that is due to open in late 2015. Others are planned. Since the start of 2014 there has been a distinct change in the flight paths, and huge opposition to the change. The number of complaints to the airport have risen sharply, month after month. However (and how often this has been heard from UK airports too) the authorities claim the numbers are false, as some people complain multiple times. This masks the fact that some don’t complain at all, being unsure how to, and being unconvinced that the airport will take any notice whatsoever. There is now a ballot of residents in 7 affected suburbs of Chicago, but all such referendums in Illinois are only “advisory.”  The questions being asked are on whether the FAA should create and enforce mandatory “fly-quiet” hours around O’Hare. The restrictions would replace the existing voluntary guidelines that ask airlines and pilots to try to reduce noise impacts after 10 pm. Another asks if aircraft noise should be reduced after 7pm,  and people are also asked about more noise insulation being available.  Airport had about 66.9 million passengers in 2013.  Chicago O’Hare on Wikipedia.




Chicago O’Hare airport new runway & flightpaths creating huge opposition by those now over-flown

Chicago O’Hare airport currently has many runways but not all can be used simultaneously. The airport has been building more, reducing the lengths of others, to get three parallel runways can be used together. There has been a lot of controversy about the plans over many years, with compulsory purchase of land, from residents who did not want to move.  There is now huge protest against the noise. A group representing city and suburban home-owners, the Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition (FAiR), is asking the Chicago Aviation Commissioner to resign or for the Mayor to fire her.  FAiR say there is  “mounting frustration over the lack of response from the Mayor on possible remedies concerning “the ceaseless airplane noise” since air-traffic patterns were changed last autumn.  The Aviation Commissioner has refused to consider altering the use of runways at night to spread out jet noise instead of concentrating it over one or two air corridors. FAiR says she has made up her mind that there will be no change at O’Hare no matter how many citizens demand change, no matter what solutions are proposed and no matter how devastating the impact of her decisions on families, children and seniors, and even entire neighbourhoods.


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The city of Phoenix is suing the FAA due to noise from NextGen flight path changes

The City of Phoenix, Arizona, is suing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over flight path changes – part of NextGen – that have led to aircraft noise that’s plaguing parts of the city. The Mayor said the city has tried to resolve the issue numerous times, but the FAA hasn’t proposed any meaningful changes. The noise problem started in September 2014 when the FAA  implemented the new flight paths.  City officials, the FAA and some airlines have met to try to work out some improvements, but the FAA say that would take 6 – 12 months to do. Hence the lawsuit as Phoenix city say the solutions don’t do enough to make up for hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the city’s noise mitigation efforts. The FAA has not been very helpful. A city spokesperson said: “The FAA’s actions have caused the community extreme discomfort, with many unable to sleep at night or pursue normal daily activities.” It claims the FAA caused “a negative impact on the Phoenix community without proper due process, notification and consideration.”  Phoenix plans to reach out to other US cities facing similar problems, to join in the lawsuit. Other cities troubled by noise due to NextGen changes are Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Boston.


Phoenix Suing FAA Over Noisy Flight Path Changes in City

Phoenix is suing the Federal Aviation Administration over flight path changes that have led to aircraft noise that’s plaguing some historic neighborhoods.

Mayor Greg Stanton said Monday the city has tried to resolve the issue numerous times, but the FAA hasn’t proposed any meaningful changes.

Stanton said Phoenix is “left with no choice but to sue.”

Residents have sent thousands of complaints to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport since the FAA implemented the new flight paths last September.

A Phoenix spokeswoman said the city plans on filing the suit within the next 24 hours.

City officials say the FAA and several airlines met last week to discuss options directly with Sky Harbor, but no changes have been made “to provide meaningful and comprehensive noise relief.”

The FAA sent a letter to Phoenix city manager Ed Zuercher on Monday saying it supports several of the city’s solutions including voluntary night-time noise reduction procedures, but said it will take six months to a year to complete.

Zuercher replied on behalf of city officials saying the solutions don’t do enough to make up for hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the city’s noise mitigation efforts.

Phoenix city councilman Michael Nowakowski said the FAA never came to planned community meetings, and later, failed to compromise during meetings between FAA and city staff.

Nowakowski plans to reach out to other cities across the country facing similar problems to join in the lawsuit.

The FAA declined to comment on the upcoming lawsuit, but says the changes were part of the agency’s nationwide NextGen program.

The new program is designed to save fuel, reduce emissions and make air travel more efficient nationwide as airplanes are able to make more efficient and direct flight paths in and out of airports.

Other cities where residents have been complaining of noise amid the new flight paths include Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Boston.


Phoenix sues FAA over ‘extreme discomfort’ from airplane noise

By Holly Yan, CNN

June 2, 2015

Phoenix city officials say there was no due process when the FAA changed its flight paths. The FAA says it supports adjusting some departures and restricting some turns for early flights

How bad is the airplane noise over Phoenix?

Bad enough that some residents can’t hear each other talk. Bad enough that many can’t sleep. Bad enough that the city is now suing the Federal Aviation Administration.

“When I talk to my wife, I can’t hear what she says,” Phoenix resident Michael March said.

March, who lives 8 miles from Sky Harbor International Airport, said the problem has gone “from zero, or non-existent, to constant.”

The cacophony started last September, when the FAA changed flight paths in the Phoenix area. Both the FAA and airlines said the changes would increase safety and decrease fuel costs, the city of Phoenix said.

“The FAA’s actions have caused the community extreme discomfort, with many unable to sleep at night or pursue normal daily activities,” the city said in a statement. It claims the FAA caused “a negative impact on the Phoenix community without proper due process, notification and consideration.”

“The FAA decided to move a highway in the sky without following legal requirements to consult with stakeholders,” city councilwoman Kate Gallego said.

The FAA said Monday that it has not seen the lawsuit and can’t comment on pending legislation.

But in a letter to the city manager Monday, FAA regional administrator Glen Martin said the agency supports certain changes, such as adjusting westbound departures and restricting some turns for early flights.

March said serious changes can’t come soon enough. He said the noise isn’t just obnoxious for residents — it could threaten home values and affect air quality closer to homes.

“It is super frustrating, and we’ve had no hope,” he said.

March said he hopes the city’s lawsuit will make the FAA think again about changing flight plans over other cities.

“All we want is just the old flight patterns to be put back,” he said. “We feel that the FAA screwed up.”



See earlier:

In USA the FAA’s new air traffic control system NextGen is causing major noise pollution

The American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s new air traffic control system NextGen is causing considerable upset in parts of the USA, in the same way that precision navigation that is being promoted by the CAA is in the UK. The overhaul of airspace and flight paths in the USA is intended to save airlines fuel and time. But the new routes are causing misery to the people who now find themselves, unexpectedly and with no warning, under them. One resident, in Phoenix, said:  “If you can imagine yourself at an air show, that’s what it would sound like.” Planes sometimes every 30 seconds for hours at a time.  “Am I angry? Absolutely. I’m furious.” In Phoenix planes now fly low over heavily populated neighbourhoods.  The Mayor said the FAA did not hold a single public hearing notifying neighbours of the change, nor did the agency ever meet with him. The Mayor commented: “I think that the choice that was made to have such a disproportionate impact over such a small number of people is really fundamentally unfair and unacceptable.”  A 2012 Congressional FAA authorization bill fast-tracked the roll out of NextGen by exempting it from normal environmental impact reviews and public hearings. NextGen is also causing problems for people at JFK and LaGuardia airports.






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EasyJet CEO, Carolyn McCall, again says there is no economic case for a Gatwick runway

Carolyn McCall, the CEO of EasyJet – the largest airline using Gatwick airport – has again said that there is no “economic reason” to build a 2nd runway at Gatwick. She believes it does not need to expand, because of a lack of demand from passengers. She would prefer a runway at Heathrow, as EasyJet and other airlines are “queuing up to get in”. They could make more profit there. Though the airlines want a new Heathrow runway, it is both physically, geographically, environmentally and politically very, very difficult indeed. Gatwick is also geographically and environmentally very, very difficult. For Gatwick to build a new runway, the cost would have to be paid by the airlines, which means flights costing more for passengers. As the budget airlines make thin profits (perhaps £7 per passenger after tax), adding on an extra £30 + to a return trip is utterly contrary to the low cost airline business plan. On dirt cheap flights, £30 extra is enough to matter.  Even though easyJet is currently Gatwick’s biggest customer, Ms McCall said it had “never proved it can really be the kind of airport that Heathrow is.”  Heathrow slot pairs can cost £25 million, but EasyJet got their Gatwick pairs for about £1 million.



Gatwick does not need new runway, says easyJet chief

8.6.2015 (The Times)

The head of Britain’s busiest airline has weighed into the debate over the future of airports by insisting there was no “economic reason” to build another runway at Gatwick.

Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet, said the country’s second-busiest airport did not need to expand, because of a lack of demand from passengers. She insisted that an additional runway at Heathrow should be preferred choice of the government, claiming that airlines — including easyJet — were “queuing up to get in”.


A spokesman for Gatwick said: “We have always maintained that easyJet’s position is based on its own narrow commercial interests.”



Full Times article at 






Necessary rise in price per flight at Gatwick with a 2nd runway:

“In order to pay the cost of a second runway, the Commission states that passenger charges would rise from £9 at present to ‘between £15 and £18, with peak charges up to £23.’ ”

This is from the Airports Commission consultation document, November 2014, para 3.41.


See earlier:

Gatwick’s main airline, easyJet, questions Gatwick case for 2nd runway and does not want to pay higher landing charges


Carolyn McCall, CEO of  EasyJet, the largest airline at Gatwick, has said passengers want expansion at Heathrow, not at Gatwick.  Ms McCall said easyJet is “quite concerned” at the prospect that Gatwick’s  landing charges would rise to pay for a 2nd runway.  They are having confidential talks with the airports on future charges.  EasyJet makes on average £8 profit per seat.  If Gatwick’s charges doubled from the current £9  to an average of £15 to £18 (or even up to £23) as predicted by the Airports Commission, this would hit EasyJet’s economics.  Ms McCAll said: “This whole issue of capacity should be about where the demand is. Airlines have to want to go into that airport, and the congestion we have is predominantly around the Heathrow hub. Passengers need to really value what this infrastructure brings, and if they don’t see any benefit it’s going to struggle.” A new runway risked emulating unpopular toll roads. “It will be years and years before [passengers] see any positive effect.”  As one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing airlines, EasyJet’s opinion will need to be given careful consideration by the Commission.




Willie Walsh says there is no business case for a 2nd Gatwick runway – BA has Gatwick’s 2nd largest number of passengers

Willie Walsh, the head of IAG, will not support a 2nd Gatwick runway, even if it is chosen by the Airports Commission or backed by the next government. He does not believe there is a business case to support its expansion, and there is insufficient demand from airlines for extra capacity at Gatwick. Mr Walsh campaigned heavily for a 3rd Heathrow runway before 2010, but has made frequent comments indicating he does not believe UK politicians will have the “courage” to build that. Willie Walsh says British Airways would resist higher landing charges, which would be necessary to fund a runway – either at Heathrow or Gatwick. (EasyJet has also said in the past they don’t want a new runway, if it means substantially higher charges – their model is low cost). BA would want lower costs, not higher costs, from a new runway. IAG’s shares have now risen as it has now made a profit at last, and will be paying its first dividend (and maybe some UK tax). Gatwick’s main airline is EasyJet with around 37% of passengers, and British Airways 2nd largest at around 14%.



EasyJet says it would fly from Heathrow, “if it was right for us” debunking Gatwick’s Heathrow myth

Gatwick airport, in its bid to try to persuade the powers-that-be of its suitability as the site of a new runway, has often said that the low cost airlines would not fly from Heathrow. However, easyJet has now said that it would consider flying from an expanded Heathrow.  Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of easyJet, said it would look at flying from Heathrow in future “if it was right for us”, and it if wasn’t too expensive. Gatwick claims that the increase in demand for air travel will be for short haul flights, mainly to Europe or countries adjacent to Europe. Heathrow claims the demand for air travel in future will be long haul.  According to Gatwick’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, Heathrow is inaccessible for low-cost airlines and charter carriers due to its high landing charges. But Ms McCall points out that easyJet already flies to and from other hub airports in Europe, such as Schiphol, Rome Fiumicino and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Though Heathrow has high landing charges, so do the other European  hub airports. Ms McCall made her comments shortly after easyJet announced a 7-year pricing deal with Gatwick and revealed it is in discussions to take over the airport’s north terminal, potentially forcing out British Airways. It made no mention of a 2nd Gatwick runway.





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NATS and Heathrow agree strategic business partnership – to make more money all round

In April 2015, NATS and Heathrow Airport entered a new strategic partnership, which NATS says signals “a fundamental change to the relationship between the airport and air traffic services provider.”  As part of the agreement, Heathrow and NATS will jointly create a long term business partnership with shared objectives aligned to what Heathrow is seeking to achieve over the coming years.(ie. it wants a 3rd runway). The partnership mentions “specific incentivised targets in areas from delay performance and service resilience through to cutting aircraft noise.” They hope their partnership will “realise benefits for airlines and help deliver a world class passenger experience for the travelling public.” (*ie. benefits for passengers, but only the least they can get away with, in terms of noise for those being over-flown.).  NATS says: “We’ve moved from being an important supplier to true partners with aligned goals that allow us to share both the rewards of success and consequences of failure in a totally transparent and accountable way.” Last year NATS lost the contract for the airspace below 4,000 feet at Gatwick to Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS),starting in October 2015. And after the problems in March when NATS did not properly inform Heathrow of flight path changes, things can only improve …




NATS and Heathrow agree strategic partnership

8.6.2015  (NATS press release)

NATS and Heathrow Airport have entered a new strategic partnership, signalling a fundamental change to the relationship between the airport and air traffic services provider.

As part of the agreement, Heathrow and NATS will jointly create a long term business partnership with shared objectives aligned to what Heathrow is seeking to achieve over the coming years.

The partnership is performance led and has at its heart a set of working principles and specific incentivised targets in areas from delay performance and service resilience through to cutting aircraft noise.

Through the partnership NATS and Heathrow Airport will seek to drive year-on-year performance improvements through innovations in service and technology that realise benefits for airlines and help deliver a world class passenger experience for the travelling public.

Derek Provan, Heathrow Airport Airside Director, said: “At Heathrow Airport we have a challenging decade ahead.  By bringing together the knowledge, experience and resources of our combined organisations we will be better placed to meet the demands of our airfield and customers going forward.”

Mike Stoller, NATS Director of Airport Operations, said: “NATS has worked with Heathrow Airport for decades, but this really is a big shift in the nature of that relationship. We’ve moved from being an important supplier to true partners with aligned goals that allow us to share both the rewards of success and consequences of failure in a totally transparent and accountable way.”

The strategic partnership agreement was signed in April.

Note to editors:

The agreement has been signed between NATS Services Ltd and Heathrow Airport Ltd.



Comment from an AirportWatch member: 

It looks to be as if Heathrow are looking to have more say in NATS decisions, particularly in the light of last year’s fiasco when Heathrow were not told of the changes.  That brought to a head a frustration with NATS that had been simmering for quite some time.

At the most recent meeting, the 3rd on 18th May, of the Heathrow Community Noise Forum, this agreement was not mentioned.



see also

Germany’s DFS air traffic service beats NATS to control Gatwick flights below 4,000 feet

Gatwick Airport’s air traffic control services are to be provided by a German state-owned company from next year. A 10-year contract for services below 4,000ft around the airport has been given to Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS). The service has been provided for more than 30 years by Hampshire-based NATS, which will continue to navigate air traffic above 4,000ft. NATS said it was disappointed, but it was too early to say if jobs would go. DFS is wholly owned by the German government and operates 16 airports in Germany as well as providing air traffic control across the country. Gatwick management said it was planned that, after a period of transition, DFS would start work in October 2015. The successful bid by DFS comes a year after a UK pension fund, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) beat DFS for a 20% stake in NATS. The Airline Group, which had owned 42% of NATS before the sale, chose USS rather than DFS to buy the 20%, which meant that a partial de-facto merger between two of the largest European Air Navigation Service Providers did not happen.




See also

Heathrow says it did not know flight path changes were continuing – blames NATS for not telling them

Heathrow and NATS had flight path trials during summer 2014, which ended on 12th November, due to intense opposition. See details. But complaints have continued and people have been adamant that the trials have not ended. Heathrow has given assurance after assurance that the trials have ceased, implying people are imagining the noise – or have become over-sensitive to it.  Now Heathrow and NATS have had to apologise. Heathrow says it did not know the trial affecting the “Compton” route to the south west and west of Heathrow had not ended, as NATS had not informed them.  As NATS and Heathrow work closely together, that is very hard to believe. Even if it could be credible, it reveals a markedly dismissive attitude to the thousands of upset residents, who have complained week after week. The airport had made no apparent effort to establish the facts, for many months. The areas particularly affected by this change are Virginia Water, Ascot, Binfield and some parts of Bracknell, which are experiencing a concentrated flight path. John Holland-Kaye said: “Because of the assurances we received [from NATS], we in turn told residents in good faith that no changes had occurred. That is unacceptable and I unequivocally apologise to local residents.”  However, NATS say they changed the route to improve the safe and efficient management of traffic departing from Heathrow and they are not planning to revert to previous procedures.





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Studies show that at least 7 hours of sleep are needed, each night, by adults

Living under a flight path, along which aircraft fly at below – say 7,000 feet – is noisy. It is all the more noisy now that the aviation industry is introducing narrow, concentrated flight paths. These are replacing the older more dispersed routes, as aircraft have new “PBN” technology (like car satnav) and can fly far more accurately than in the past. And it suits the air traffic controllers to keep flight paths narrow. But if airports allow flights at night, or if the “night” period when flights are not allowed is short, this has consequences for people living near, or under, routes. Studies carried out scientifically show adults need at least 7 hours of sleep, each night to be at their healthiest. Children and teenagers need more.There are some people who need more than 7 hours per night, and some need less. It is not good enough to get less one night, and more the next – the brain does not process the day’s memories adequately. Studies show adverse effects of not getting enough sleep, which are not only related to concentration, speed of thinking or reacting etc, but also medical effects. The concentrated flight paths, and airports allowed to have flights all night, are causing very real problems. A study into noise and sleep by the CAA in 2009 looked at the issue, and said a large and comprehensive study is needed, but it is “likely to be expensive.”


Aviation background:

Some airports allow flights all night. The numbers of flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted are controlled by the DfT. The current regime remains in place till 2017. There is also a “quota count” system in place, by which the noisiest planes score more points, and airports have a limit of points they can rack up during a year. That limits flights at night, especially by the older and noisier planes.

Flights at night disturb people’s sleep.  This may have health implications, as well as quality of life implications.  On average people need at least 7 hours of sleep per night, with many people needing  8 hours or more.  Children, the elderly and people who are not well may need more.  The Department of Transport regards “night” as being the 8 hour period from 23.00 to 07.00 local time.

The DfT imposes quotas on the number of night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.   They also set quotas on the number of noise points that each airport is allowed each year (the noisier aircraft score more points).  This is for the “night quota period” which is the six and a half hour period from 23.30 to 06.00.  That is nowhere near the 8 hours of quiet time that people may need.  The DfT regards the time between 23.00 and 23.30 and 06.00 to 07.00 as “shoulder” periods, when there can be more flights.

A review of these quotas, which was due in 2012, has been postponed until 2017.

Not everyone can plan their life so they go to bed and sleep at the times when there are restricted flights. It may not suit people to got to sleep at 11.30pm and wake at 6am. Many people go to bed much earlier – or sleep till later.  A period of six and a half hours, as well as being too short even for those who sleep those hours, is far from adequate for those who choose to go to bed earlier or later.

East Midlands airport has the most night flights in the UK, many of them noisy and elderly cargo planes.  While the legal cap on night flights at Heathrow is 5,800 per year, it is 14,450 at Gatwick, and 12,000 at Stansted ( though about 8,000 actually flew).

Gatwick has about 50 flights each night in summer (11pm to 6am); Heathrow has about 16 (11.30pm – 6am) throughout the year but they tend to be noisier, large long-haul aircraft, which have arrived from the far East or South Africa.  Stansted has around 22 flights per night.

Airlines like to have some night flights in order to maximise profits, using the plane the highest number of “rotations” per day, or so long haul flights can arrive very early in the morning.


amount of sleep needed

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

Humans, like all animals, need sleep, along with food, water and oxygen, to survive. For humans sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being. We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, and the overall state of our “ sleep health ” remains an essential question throughout our lifespan.

Most of us know that getting a good night’s sleep is important, but too few of us actually make those eight or so hours between the sheets a priority. For many of us with sleep debt , we’ve forgotten what “being really, truly rested” feels like.

To further complicate matters, stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and external lights—including those from electronic devices—interferes with our “ circadian rhythm ” or natural sleep/wake cycle.

Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. To determine how much sleep you need, it’s important to assess not only where you fall on the “sleep needs spectrum,” but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep such as work schedules and stress.

To get the sleep you need, you must look at the big picture.

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need: Revisited

We at the National Sleep Foundation make it our mission to champion not only sleep science, but sleep health for the individual. And so, on the eve of our 25 th anniversary, we are releasing the results of a world-class study that took more than two years of research to complete – an update to our most-cited guidelines on how much sleep you really need at each age.

Click here for a downloadable recommended sleep times chart.

Eighteen leading scientists and researchers came together to form the National Sleep Foundation’s expert panel tasked with updating the official recommendations. The panelists included six sleep specialists and representatives from leading organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Anatomists, American College of Chest Physicians, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Geriatrics Society, American Neurological Association, American Physiological Society, American Psychiatric Association, American Thoracic Society, Gerontological Society of America, Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, and Society for Research in Human Development.  The panelists participated in a rigorous scientific process that included reviewing over 300 current scientific publications and voting on how much sleep is appropriate throughout the lifespan.

“Millions of individuals trust the National Sleep Foundation for its sleep duration recommendations. As the voice for sleep health it is the NSF’s responsibility to make sure that our recommendations are supported by the most rigorous science,” says Charles Czeisler, MD, PhD, chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation and chief of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “Individuals, particularly parents, rely on us for this information.”

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Though research cannot pinpoint an  exact amount of sleep need by people at different ages, our new chart, which features minimum and maximum ranges for health as well as “recommended” windows, identifies the “rule-of-thumb” amounts experts agree upon.

Nevertheless, it’s important to pay attention to your own individual needs by assessing how you feel on different amounts of sleep.

  • Are you productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take you nine hours of quality ZZZs to get you into high gear?
  • Do you have health issues such as being overweight? Are you at risk for any disease?
  • Are you experiencing sleep problems ?
  • Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day?
  • Do you feel sleepy when driving ?

These are questions that must be asked before you can find the number that works for you.

Sleep Time Recommendations: What’s Changed?

“The NSF has committed to regularly reviewing and providing scientifically rigorous recommendations,” says Max Hirshkowitz, PhD, Chair of the National Sleep Foundation Scientific Advisory Council. “The public can be confident that these recommendations represent the best guidance for sleep duration and health.”

A new range, “may be appropriate,” has been added to acknowledge the individual variability in appropriate sleep durations. The recommendations now define times as either (a) recommended; (b) may be appropriate for some individuals; or (c) not recommended.

The panel revised the recommended sleep ranges for all six children and teen age groups. A summary of the new recommendations includes:

  • Newborns (0-3 months ): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

…. and it continues ….



How much can an extra hour’s sleep change you?

9 October 2013 (BBC)

The average Briton gets six-and-a-half hours’ sleep a night, according to the Sleep Council. Michael Mosley took part in an unusual experiment to see if this is enough.

It has been known for some time that the amount of sleep people get has, on average, declined over the years.
This has happened for a whole range of reasons, not least because we live in a culture where people are encouraged to think of sleep as a luxury – something you can easily cut back on. After all, that’s what caffeine is for – to jolt you back into life. But while the average amount of sleep we are getting has fallen, rates of obesity and diabetes have soared. Could the two be connected?

We wanted to see what the effect would be of increasing average sleep by just one hour. So we asked seven volunteers, who normally sleep anywhere between six and nine hours, to be studied at the University of Surrey’s Sleep Research Centre.

The volunteers were randomly allocated to two groups. One group was asked to sleep for six-and-a-half hours a night, the other got seven-and-a-half hours. After a week the researchers took blood tests and the volunteers were asked to switch sleep patterns. The group that had been sleeping six-and-a-half hours got an extra hour, the other group slept an hour less.

In the first episode of Trust Me I’m a Doctor, seven volunteers were recruited to take part in an unusual experiment at the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey

While we were waiting to see what effect this would have, I went to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford to learn more about what actually happens when we sleep.
In the Sleep Centre, they fitted me up with a portable electro-encephalograph, a device that measures brain wave activity. Then, feeling slightly ridiculous, I went home and had my seven-and-a-half hours of sleep.

The following day I went to discuss what had happened inside my head during the night with Dr Katharina Wulff.

The first thing she pointed out was that I had very rapidly fallen into a state of deep sleep. Deep sleep sounds restful, but during it our brains are actually working hard. One of the main things the brain is doing is moving memories from short-term storage into long-term storage, allowing us more short-term memory space for the next day. If you don’t get adequate deep sleep then these memories will be lost.

You might think: “I’ll cut back during the week and then make up for it at the weekend.” Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that, because memories need to be consolidated within 24 hours of being formed.

Since deep sleep is so important for consolidating memories it is a good idea if you are revising or perhaps taking an exam to make sure that you’re getting a reasonable night’s sleep. In one study, people who failed to do so did 40% worse than their contemporaries.
Deep sleep only lasts for a few hours. My electrode results showed that during the night my brain went through multiple phases of another kind of activity, called REM sleep.

“This is the phase when you are usually paralysed – so you can’t move,” Wulff explained. But the eye muscles are not paralysed, and that’s why it’s called rapid eye movement sleep.”

During REM sleep an extraordinary thing happens. One of the stress-related chemicals in the brain, noradrenalin, is switched off. It’s the only time, day or night, this happens. It allows us to remain calm while our brains reprocess all the experiences of the day, helping us come to terms with particularly emotional events.

We get more REM sleep in the last half of the night. Which means that if you are woken unexpectedly, your brain may not have dealt with all your emotions – which could leave you stressed and anxious. Drinking alcohol late at night is not a good idea as it reduces your REM sleep while it’s being processed in your body.

Back at the University of Surrey our sleep volunteers had finished their second week of the experiment. What we wanted to see was the effect switching from six-and-a-half hours to seven-and-a-half hours, or vice versa, would have on our volunteers.

Computer tests revealed that most of them struggled with mental agility tasks when they had less sleep, but the most interesting results came from the blood tests that were run.

Dr Simon Archer and his team at Surrey University were particularly interested in looking at the genes that were switched on or off in our volunteers by changes in the amount that we had made them sleep.

“We found that overall there were around 500 genes that were affected,” Archer explained. “Some which were going up, and some which were going down.”
What they discovered is that when the volunteers cut back from seven-and-a-half to six-and-a-half hours’ sleep a night, genes that are associated with processes like inflammation, immune response and response to stress became more active. The team also saw increases in the activity of genes associated with diabetes and risk of cancer. The reverse happened when the volunteers added an hour of sleep.

So the clear message from this experiment was that if you are getting less than seven hours’ sleep a night and can alter your sleep habits, even just a little bit, it could make you healthier. “Have a lie-in, it will do you good” – that’s the kind of health message that doesn’t come along very often.


Also (from an American website,, which is part of the National Sleep Foundation):

Think you can learn to survive on less than six hours of sleep a night? Think again. Adults typically need between seven and nine hours of shut-eye a night to function at their best. Between health care expenses and lost productivity, insufficient sleep in the U.S. rings in at an annual cost of about $66 billion.

How come? When you’re awake, a chemical called adenosine builds up in your blood, and when you sleep, your body breaks it down. Skimp on sleep, however, and adenosine builds up in your bloodstream, making you more and more desperate to snooze. Your reaction time slows, which makes you more prone to dangerous mistakes when driving.

A shortage of sleep is to blame for some 100,000 traffic accidents, 76,000 injuries, and 1,500 deaths a year.

And it adds up. Getting just two to three hours too little sleep for a few nights can have the same effect as pulling an all-nighter—yet it’s something that many Americans routinely do. If that doesn’t sound like a big deal, consider this: Staying up for 24 hours straight and then getting behind the wheel is like driving with a blood-alcohol content that deems you legally drunk in all 50 states.

Just like with a credit card or a mortgage, sleep debt eventually has to be repaid. And the more you add to it, the bigger your balance. Sleeping in on the weekends (a common practice) is one way that you might try to combat a shortage of weeknight sleep, but it’s usually not the best strategy. If you have to overcome a one- or two-hour sleep debt, it might work. But if you’re under-sleeping by, say, an hour every night, Monday through Friday, you’ll end up with a whopping five hours of sleep debt by the time Saturday rolls around. And sleeping in too much on Saturdays and Sundays can make things worse by throwing off your regular snooze schedule and making it harder to sleep on Sunday night.


ERCD review of aircraft noise and sleep done for the CAA in 2009

ERCD REPORT 0905 Aircraft Noise and Sleep Disturbance: A Review

K Jones


see also

Restrictions on UK ‘night flights’ at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted extended until 2017

In the Government’s response to the Airports Commission’s December 2013 interim report, Patrick McLoughlin announced that plans to more than double the number of ‘night flights’ at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports have been postponed until 2017. Under proposals outlined in the Commission’s interim report the number of planes allowed to land at the airport before 6am each day would have increased from 16 to 35 from 2015. The government now says it wants to ensure “regulatory stability” at south east airports while the Commission makes its final recommendations on which airport should be recommended to be allowed to build a new runway. The government is also extending the ban on “rare movements made by older noisier types of aircraft.” McLoughlin said: “This decision will help give certainty around the night noise environment for those living near the airports, as well as ensuring operational capacity at these airports is not affected pending decisions on any new airport capacity in light of the commission’s final report.” The government has also postponed the Commission’s recommendation for an Independent Aviation Noise Authority.




Aviation Environment Federation response to DfT’s 2nd stage consultation on night noise

The DfT places restrictions on night flying at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports. These are reviewed every few years, though in 2012 it was decided to just extend the restrictions until October 2014. There have been two phases to the current consultation, for changes after October 2014, with the first consultation ending in April 2013 and the second phase ending on 3rd February 2014.  The DfT believes it should take “account of the findings of the Airports Commission before making any changes to the night restrictions regime.”  They therefore propose not making any significant changes till October 2017. The Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) has responded to the DfT’s 2nd stage consultation. They comment that  there is a need for an evidence-based target to inform a long-term night noise policy. This should be to reduce night noise below the threshold recommended by the WHO to avoid damaging health impacts. Improvements are needed soon, and therefore they oppose the intention not to make changes before 2017. Greater emphasis needs to be given to the health impacts, on which there have been more studies. There also need to be supplementary metrics to measure the impact of night noise and the  performance of the existing night noise regime.

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Gatwick Tory MPs warn of ‘political stitch-up’ on runways by anti-Heathrow faction in Cabinet

A group of senior Conservative MPs has warned David Cameron that he must avoid a “political stitch-up” that would favour cabinet ministers, and other party heavyweights led by Boris Johnson, who are campaigning against a Heathrow 3rd runway. Crispin Blunt, the former justice minister who chairs the 9-strong group of Tory MPs representing constituencies around Gatwick, told the Tory chief whip, Mark Harper, this week that cabinet ministers opposed to a third runway at Heathrow airport should “recuse” themselves [ie. not take part in a decision, due to danger of a potential conflict of interest or lack of impartiality] when the government considers the Airports Commission’s findings. The decision by the government must be taken in an impartial manner. The Gatwick area MPs are concerned that as well as Boris Johnson and Zac Goldsmith, both keenly against a Heathrow runway, in Cabinet there are also Justine Greening, Theresa May and Philip Hammond, who are openly against a Heathrow runway. The Gatwick MPs are concerned about a political stitch-up on the runway decision. They do not believe a runway at Gatwick is in the national interest.


Gatwick Tory MPs warn of ‘political stitch-up’ by anti-Heathrow faction

5.6.2015 (Guardian)
A group of senior Conservative MPs has warned David Cameron that he must avoid a “political stitch-up” that would favour cabinet ministers, and other party heavyweights led by Boris Johnson, who are campaigning against a third runway at Heathrow airport.

Mark Harper, the Tory chief whip, has been told by MPs opposed to a second runway at Gatwick airport that the government must make an impartial assessment when the Airports Commission publishes its findings this summer.

Crispin Blunt, the former justice minister who is convening a nine-strong group of Tory MPs, told the chief whip in a meeting earlier this week that cabinet ministers opposed to a third runway at Heathrow airport should “recuse” themselves when the government considers the commission’s findings.

The Gatwick-area group, which met this week, fears that the London mayor plus three cabinet ministers opposed to or worried about a third runway at Heathrow – Justine Greening, Theresa May and Philip Hammond – are planning to shape the government’s response to the commission. Zac Goldsmith, the environmentalist and Tory MP for Richmond Park, has said he would trigger a byelection if the government opts for an extra runway at Heathrow.

One source said: “We are concerned about a political stitch-up. We would not stand for it. The government response to the Davies commission must not be fixed.”

Sir Howard Davies, the economist and incoming chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, is due to publish the findings of the commission this summer. The independent commission, which was appointed after the coalition government and the Tory party were unable to overcome their differences on airport expansion in the south east, has been examining three options. These are: a third runway at Heathrow, the extension of the existing north runway at Heathrow, to allow it to operate as two separate runways, and a second runway at Gatwick airport.

The Gatwick-area group of MPs, which includes the former ministers Sir Nicholas Soames and Nick Herbert, is convinced there is an overwhelming case in favour of expanding airport capacity at Heathrow. The group also has the informal support of Sam Gyimah, the Tory MP for East Surrey, who cannot formally join the group because he is a minister.

The group says that Heathrow has better transport links – four nearby motorways (M4, M25, M3 and M40) compared with two for Gatwick (M25 and M23); and four tube and rail lines (Piccadilly line, Heathrow Express, a proposed link from Clapham Junction and a new Crossrail link), as opposed to the Brighton mainline which serves Gatwick. They also say that the Gatwick catchment area would not be able to house all the extra workers – estimated by the group to be higher than 100,000 – that would work at the airport and in related services. The group also says that the economic benefits of an extra runway at Heathrow vastly outweigh the benefits of building one at Gatwick.

But the group fears that the seniority of MPs with constituency interests near Heathrow means that the government may find a way of appeasing the London mayor, who sits on the Tories’ political cabinet, and other high-profile figures by naming Gatwick as the site for a new runway. In his acceptance speech after his election last month as the new Tory MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Boris Johnson said he would lie down “in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway” at Heathrow.

One source in the Gatwick co-ordination group said: “The MPs around Gatwick, who have organised into the Gatwick co-ordination group, are convinced that there is no national interest case to prefer Gatwick over Heathrow. There are also profound infrastructure and labour market issues that make the Gatwick option very difficult to deliver.

“Following the analysis we have seen, we think a recommendation for Gatwick is inconceivable unless it revolves around politics rather than the national interest. We want to make it clear to people that this would not be acceptable. When the Airports Commission is assessed by government, it should not be assessed by ministers who have a strong constituency interest.”

The Gatwick-area group also includes Sir Paul Beresford, MP for Mole Valley; Jeremy Quin, MP for Horsham; Henry Smith, MP for Crawley; Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden; and Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling.

George Osborne believes that Britain must increase its runway capacity in the south east if it is to avoid losing out to rival European airports on new routes to emerging economies. The chancellor was the driving force behind setting up the Airports Commission in the last parliament to ensure the Tories abided by their 2010 manifesto commitment to “stop the third runway” at Heathrow and to “block plans for second runways at Stansted and Gatwick”.

Supporters of a third runway at Heathrow say it is the natural venue for increased capacity because it is Britain’s main “hub” airport connecting travellers from north America, Africa and the European continent to worldwide destinations. Supporters of Gatwick say that evolving travel patterns put a premium on airports, such as Gatwick, that offer “point to point” flights.



See also, on the same day:

Cabinet split over Heathrow ‘makes airport’s expansion undeliverable’


5.6.2015 (Evening Standard)

A cabinet split over Heathrow expansion has deepened in the run-up to the landmark report by Sir Howard Davies on how to tackle London’s aviation capacity crisis.

The appointment of Greg Hands as the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury means there are now five senior opponents of a third runway in the Cabinet.

In addition, diehard opponent Boris Johnson now joins fortnightly political Cabinet sessions. The anti-Heathrow campaign is also tipped to get “rocket boosters” if Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith bids to become Conservative candidate for Mayor on a clean and noise reduction platform.

The boost to the campaign against expanding the UK’s premier airport comes weeks before Sir Howard is expected to publish his long-awaited recommendation on whether to build new runways at Heathrow or Gatwick.

The Standard understands the report is nearly finished and will be published later this month.

One Tory source said there had been “a change in the mood music” from senior ministers in recent days, with some senior figures appearing to be more open towards Gatwick.

Mr Goldsmith told the Standard: “With so many heavyweight Cabinet ministers who are on record against Heathrow expansion, this project is politically undeliverable.”

Chelsea & Fulham MP Mr Hands is described by Tory colleagues as a “hard core” critic of expanding the UK’s premier airport, alongside International Development Secretary Justine Greening, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers.

The fifth Cabinet critic is Home Secretary Theresa May, who met Airports Commission chief Sir Howard last year to lobby against night flights affecting her Maidenhead constituency.

The Standard has learned that Ms Greening will join forces with Mr Johnson and Mr Goldsmith later this month, with an event to highlight how parts of London currently untroubled by noise could suffer if expansion goes ahead.

Mr Johnson, Mayor of London, whose Thames Estuary airport idea was rejected by the Davies Commission, is said to be “increasingly optimistic” Gatwick will be recommended for a second runway.




See also:

Fears Cameron may opt for Gatwick runway, just to avoid Cabinet rift on Heathrow

The Airports Commission is due to make its runway recommendation by the end of June, and since its recent consultation on air quality, speculation on the runway issue has become ever more feverish. The issue of air quality, in reality, prevents either runway being built – at Heathrow air quality is already too poor; at Gatwick, it would be illegal to worsen tolerable air quality for thousands of people. Speculation grows that perhaps, on some measures, the extent of the environmental damage at Gatwick might be lower than at Heathrow. It is still too high to enable a runway to be built. Now a large number of senior Tories and those in the Cabinet are personally opposed to a Heathrow runway, due to the location of their constituencies. Their constituents would not tolerate a new Heathrow runway, due to noise and pollution.  So there are fears the Conservative government might try to go for Gatwick, in order to avoid internal splits within the Cabinet. Surely not a sufficient justification for devastating damage to a huge area of Sussex and Surrey, air pollution, intolerable pressure on surface transport, intolerable pressure on social infrastructure, intolerable noise burden over a wide area, huge cost to the taxpayer (not to mention raised CO2 emissions – from a government claiming to be “green”) – just to suit Cabinet members and avoid a party rift?



Zac Goldsmith says Heathrow expansion would split the Cabinet with opposition from the very top

Zac Goldsmith was re-elected to his Richmond Park seat with a majority of about 23,000 – up from a 4,000 majority in 2010. He has always been very firmly against a Heathrow 3rd runway. Zac believes that if Heathrow is “chosen” for approval by the Airports Commission, it would cause a split at the very top of government, and a real problem for David Cameron: “If you look at the cabinet today, there are at least 3 heavyweight people there, Philip Hammond, Justine Greening and Boris Johnson and others, in fact, who are implacably opposed to Heathrow expansion … He’d face a split at the highest level and I don’t think a fragile government with a small majority wants to do that.” Zac also says giving the go-ahead to Heathrow would be “an off-the-scale betrayal” from David Cameron, who came to west London before the 2010 election and promised locals, “No ifs, no buts, no 3rd runway” – and that there wouldn’t be a new runway under the Conservatives. Zac has repeated his threat of resigning if the government backs a Heathrow runway. His resignation would trigger a by-election in which he could stand as an independent on that one issue. It would offer him the opportunity to get a lot of publicity for the anti- runway case

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Aviation Environment Federation short briefing for decision-makers on environmental challenges of a new runway

The Airports Commission will soon publish its final recommendations on a new runway in the South East.  The Aviation Environment Federation has produced a short, easy to read summary briefing, about the environmental challenges of adding a runway. They are calling for cross-party support for proposals aiming to protect human health and ensure that airport expansion is permitted only once a framework of environmental limits is in place. These limits relate to aircraft noise, air pollution and carbon emissions. AEF also question whether the economic case for a runway stacks up.  They say while there is significant pressure to make a swift decision on airport capacity  the analysis published so far by the Airports Commission contains evidence gaps. Until these gaps are addressed, it will not be possible to reach a robust view on the Commission’s recommendations. Transparent decision-making by government will be paramount. AEF is calling for a full debate once all evidence is produced. They are asking MPs to ensure the government does not make any runway decision until all the evidence has been gathered, a balanced picture of costs and benefits is provided and all environmental tests have been met.


MP Airport Expansion Briefing


New AEF Briefing: Environmental challenges to airport expansion in the South East

We have produced a new briefing on the environmental challenges to a new runway at Gatwick or Heathrow.

Download: Environmental Challenges to Airport Expansion in the South East

The Airports Commission will soon publish its final recommendations on a new runway in the South East, whether at Heathrow or Gatwick. A new runway at either airport would present significant environmental challenges.

Prior to the election, we – along with leading environmental organisations including WWF, RSPB, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth – called on political parties to adopt a series of sustainable policy proposals for aviation. We continue to call for cross-party support for these proposals, which aim to protect human health and ensure that airport expansion is permitted only once a framework of environmental limits is in place.

There is significant pressure to make a swift decision on airport capacity, but the analysis published so far by the Airports Commission contains evidence gaps. Until these gaps are addressed, it will not be possible to reach a robust view on any recommendations the Commission may make. There is a high level of public interest in this issue and it will be the first major test of environmental policy in this parliamentary term. Transparent decision-making will be paramount. We are calling for a full debate once all evidence has been gathered, and no decision to be made until the following challenges have been overcome:

1) Will the increased aircraft noise be acceptable?

  • All three short-listed schemes would increase noise in the local area and have either an ‘adverse’ or ‘significantly adverse’ effect on the Government’s objective to minimise and where possible reduce noise impacts, according to the Commission. Thousands of people – potentially hundreds of thousands – would be affected by noise for the first time.
  • The Commission’s analysis is based on ‘indicative’ flight paths and assumptions about the introduction of less noisy aircraft. But it does not make clear whether the noise impact could be even worse if the technology improvements are not delivered. Recent trials of flight path changes were highly controversial around Gatwick and Heathrow.
  • As well as causing significant disturbance, aircraft noise directly impacts people’s health which carries significant costs. The Airports Commission’s current analysis does not fully account for the costs of addressing the health impacts of aircraft noise.

2) Could air pollution around airports be brought within legal limits?

  • The Heathrow area has breached the legal limit for NO2 pollution annually for at least the past 10 years. Modelling by the Government’s environment department predicts that the area would still be breaching the legal limits in 2030 with only the current two runways.
  • The Airports Commission’s recent consultation on the air quality impacts of expansion revealed that the increased emissions associated with a third runway at Heathrow would mean the area would have the highest level of air pollution in the UK. In terms of mitigation, Heathrow has argued that it would generate no growth in airport-related traffic on the local road network but the Commission concluded that it is not clear whether this is deliverable.
  • Around Gatwick, contrary to claims by the airport, the Airports Commission notes that there was a breach in legal limits for harmful nitrogen dioxide in 2014. One of the Commission’s models indicated that there would be worse pollution around Gatwick with two runways than Heathrow with three.

3) Would aviation play its part in wider efforts to reduce CO2 emissions?

  • The Airports Commission found that all shortlisted expansion options would, when added to the emissions from other UK airports, result in CO2 increases above the maximum level allowed for under the Climate Change Act.
  • The Commission says that it will be for the next Government to work out how to tackle this problem, for example through large tax increases on aviation to limit demand, or through planning limits on regional airports.

4) Does the economic case for expansion stack up?

  • Advertising by both Heathrow and Gatwick has quoted impressive-sounding figures for the potential wider benefit of airport expansion. However, the Airports Commission notes that these figures should be treated with “some caution”.
  • The figures are not supported by the Government’s recommended approach for cost-benefit analysis, which generates values that are either much more modest or even negative.
  • According to Transport for London, the costs of surface access may have been underestimated by up to £15 billion at Heathrow while the additional road traffic would put the network around Gatwick under stress, suggesting additional infrastructure may be required.
  • The economic assessment does not include the cost of keeping aviation emissions to a level compatible with the Climate Change Act, despite clear advice to do this from the Government’s climate change advisers.





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NATS blogging about cutting APD, instead of getting on with proper management of airspace

The role of NATS, in their own “vision” that they aim “To be the acknowledged global leader in innovative air traffic solutions and airport performance.” But now in a blog on their website, they are lobbying for cuts in Air Passenger Duty, which is the only tax on air travel (as it pays no VAT and no fuel duty – hence being extremely lightly taxed). The NATS blog says that because many other countries have even lower taxes on aviation, the level of APD should be reduced. With no APD (which is only £13 for a return flight to any European destination – with a higher rate of £71 for a return flight anywhere else in the world) there might be slightly more people flying. NATS is 42% owned by airlines, 5% by NATS staff, 4% by Heathrow, and 49% by the government. So NATS says: “At NATS, we have always been clear that what damages our customers, also damages us.” Those campaigning for a cut in APD always mention boosting inbound tourism – but they never mention outbound tourism, and the loss of revenue to the UK economy that causes. The government has often repeated that APD is charged because the aviation sector avoids other taxes. Commentators have said NATS should stick to its job, on which has been failing recently, of managing airspace. Problems at NATS have been so bad recently that its CEO Richard Deakin had to resign in May.



NATS says its “vision” is:

“To be the acknowledged global leader in innovative air traffic solutions and airport performance.”  And they say; “Above all, we must continue to deliver a safe and efficient service to our en route and airport customers, which is essential not only to maintain our UK market position but also to demonstrate our capabilities to new customers.”  Nothing in there about lobbying for a cut in tax for its customers.

NATS is a public private partnership between the Airline Group, which holds 42%, NATS staff who hold 5%, UK airport operator LHR Airports Limited with 4%, and the government which holds 49%, and a golden share.



Tax reductions are expected to drive demand

3 June 2015 (NATS blog)

Each year NATS produces UK flight forecasts in order to ensure we can efficiently manage the flights our customers wish to fly. Starting with an estimation of the passenger demand for air travel, we convert that demand into flights using assumptions on load factors, aircraft size and airport capacity constraints.

Demand for air travel is driven by various factors, with economic growth affecting propensity to travel being the most important. And we look at things like changes in tax, the UK’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) for example, which make it more or less affordable for people to travel.

Introduced in 1994, APD paid by passengers flying from UK airports, with a £5 rate for the flights to Europe and £10 for the rest of the World. Since then there have been numerous changes which we have had to factor into our forecasts – the introduction of bands based on distance, class of travel and aircraft type as well as increases to the value of duty itself.

The aviation community has long argued that having the highest flight tax in the world makes the UK less competitive than our European counterparts. At NATS, we have always been clear that what damages our customers, also damages us.

A 2013 [1] PricewaterhouseCoooper study claimed that scrapping APD could not only pay for itself, but may add an immediate boost to UK GDP of 0.45% in the first 12 months, averaging at 0.3% for the following years through a boost in exports and tourism.

As a result the 2014 UK Budget reformed APD. The 4-band tax structure was replaced with a simpler 2-band structure based on distance flown – either below or above 2,000 miles – and class of ticket – either Economy or Business. Most passengers will save on the taxable element of their ticket with a family of four travelling Economy from the UK to the Caribbean, for instance, set to save £56.

Additionally, from 1 May 2015 children under the age of 12 are exempt from paying, with a further extension planned next year to include children under 16.

Cheaper ticket prices are expected to contribute in driving passenger demand, and our modelling suggests that the 2015 APD reform is likely to attract an additional 70,000 passengers per year, which will benefit the UK economy.

We are likely to see further changes in demand as a result of APD reform. In 2014, the Smith Commission, set up by the Government to look at further powers for Scotland, recommended that APD be devolved. The Scottish Government has been clear that they would initially cut APD by 50%, then abolish it. Scrapping APD for flights departing from Scotland’s three main airports – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – could mean an Economy ticket being up to £71 cheaper and a Business ticket up to £142 cheaper, attracting as many as 2m more passengers per annum. That looks like good news for the Scottish economy!

[1] The Economic Impact of Air Passenger Duty, Pwc, February 2013

When the PwC report was produced in 2013, the FT wrote:

The FT reports that a Treasury spokesperson said APD, which is forecast to bring in £2.9bn this year, makes an “essential contribution” towards helping meet the government’s deficit reduction plans. “We do not recognise the figures in this report or agree with the assumptions behind it,” the Treasury said. (FT  link  )



One AirportWatch member commented:

You’ve got to be kidding !

The UK consumers have the best and most competitive airfares available to them of any traveller in the western world. APD has no negative effect on people travelling from the UK (if anything its the scaremongering by the industry that might put people off rather than anything else.)

Look at Belfast – APD was removed from USA flights in 2011 and since then – bar 2013 – traffic levels have gone down and they remain 10% below the 2010 level.

How can an organisation, with a majority government ownership, recommend the removal of a duty which is the only realistic tax contribution that the incredibly lightly taxed aviation industry pays. No fuel tax, no VAT and favourable import duties plus tax free privileges on profits for clever accounting and NATS wants to see it given even more bonuses !



See also

Richard Deakin, CEO of NATS resigns after many criticisms of NATS’ work

Richard Deakin, the CEO of NATS (National Air Traffic Services) has resigned after 5 years in the job.  He is standing down with immediate effect.  The managing director of operations, Martin Rolfe, has taken over instead but the board is looking for a successor among internal and external (possibly overseas) candidates. NATS said Richard Deaking was leaving by mutual consent as the company was embarking on a new regulatory period and was preparing to implement the single European sky programme, SESAR, which will see much closer integration of air traffic control services across borders. NATS has received fierce criticism recently due to changes it has made to UK airspace, its failure to consult properly, and its inability to deal with upset and angry residents. The fiasco at Heathrow, when NATS apparently did not tell the airport it had made changes to flight paths, got it some very bad publicity.  Last year, after a computer failure at Swanwick, Vince Cable accused NATS of “skimping on investment.” But Richard Deakin did help block plans for a Thames estuary airport, saying it was in the “very worst spot” for air traffic. The situation of inadequate airspace consultation creating deep anger in over flown communities has also caused stresses within the CAA.




When NATS is not lobbying to help boost airline traffic, it is trying to save airlines money.  Coincidentally, as well as saving fuel and saving cost, this also means emitting less CO2. Which is good.


Record environmental savings at NATS

5.6.2015 (NATS)

NATS has enabled a reduction of more than 600,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions thanks to more efficient air traffic control procedures, improved use of airspace and innovative technology in the last financial year.

This is equivalent to £155 million in fuel savings for airlines.

The record-breaking results have been published in NATS’ 2014-15 Corporate Responsibility report, which reviews its environmental and community affairs performance, today on World Environment Day.

Last year NATS became the first air navigation services provider in the world to adopt the use of near real time airspace efficiency monitoring using an in-house developed tool called Flight Optimisation System – or FLOSYS.

The tool uses real radar data and combines it with NATS’ 3Di airspace efficiency metric to produce a graphical representation of every flight in UK airspace, meaning controllers can immediately review performance and identify areas for improvement, or best practice techniques to share.

NATS has also continued to work closely with industry leaders, including airlines, airports and manufacturers, as part of the Sustainable Aviation coalition to increase the use of continuous descent operations (CDO) around 23 airports, to save fuel and reduce airlines’ CO2 emissions, while reducing noise for flights around airports.

Last year more than 39,000 additional quieter flights were achieved through CDO, from its launch in July 2014 to April 2015. The figure remained high even with an increase of traffic.

Through these efficiency measures, NATS has reduced the average ATM related CO2 emissions per flight by 4.3%, compared to flights in 2006, exceeding its 4% target for 2014. In 2008, NATS became the first ANSP in the world to set itself targets on the environmental performance of its airspace, including to reduce average ATM related CO2 emissions per flight by 10% by 2020.

Ian Jopson, Head of Environmental and Community Affairs said: “This has been a fantastic year for us in reducing CO2 emissions and enabling fuel savings. I am delighted that NATS has been recognised for its on-going development of our 3Di airspace efficiency metric and received re-accreditation for a “Big Tick” award, as part of the Business in the Community (BitC) annual Sustainable Product and Services award.

“NATS has also been shortlisted for BitC’s “Engaging Customers on Sustainability” award for our Continuous Descent Campaign for this year’s award. BitC’s endorsement of our achievements helps us demonstrate that we consider the wider impact of everything we do.”

While reducing its environmental impact on UK airspace, NATS has also invested in energy efficient facilities and targets to reduce energy consumption (kWh) by 8.5% in the last financial year.

Only 1% of waste went to landfill in 2014/2015 and water consumption has reduced by 52% since 2006, with a 7% reduction last year.

NATS continues to support the Swanwick Lakes Nature Reserve in partnership with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. In 2014, NATS was awarded the Biodiversity Benchmark by the Wildlife Trust for its work in managing the reserve, following a rigorous nine-month certification process.




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