Belfast residents call for independent inquiry into yet another roof tiles incident

6.6.2010 (Belfast City Airport Watch)

Local Belfast  residents are calling for an independent inquiry into aircraft
safety after roof tiles on two bungalows in east Belfast were apparently dislodged
by a low-flying aircraft bound for George Best Belfast City Airport.
[And – amazingly – another incident   happened a day later, when a man was slightly
injured by a falling tile – details below].***

The   photo is of Jean Wright, of Oval Court, East Belfast, standing in front
of the roof tiles which were dislodged in this incident. She has MS and says she
is in a state of shock today after the incident. She’s now very anxious something
worse could happen.

Local residents in east Belfast report that a plane flew very low over houses
in Oval Court off Mersey St on 5th June, dislogding and moving more than 20 heavy
slate roof tiles from two bungalows. The incident was the second such case in
the area within just nine months.

Dr Liz Fawcett, Chair of the Steering Group of the umbrella residents’ group,
Belfast City Airport Watch (BCAW), said the UK aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation
Authority, should be called in to investigate both incidents, and the whole issue
of aircraft safety for local people living close to the airport.

"It’s extremely fortunate that no one was injured in either this or the previous
incident," she said. "Both these incidents could have resulted in serious injuries
or worse.

"It’s now incumbent on the Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, to hold an independent,
open, and transparent inquiry which would properly investigate these incidents
to determine how any further accidents of this nature could be avoided in future,
and to examine whether the level of safety risk to which residents are being subjected
is acceptable.

"To ensure the investigation is a robust one, we are calling on him to bring
in the Civil Aviation Authority which is responsible for regulating aviation matters
in the UK, and has the necessary expertise to carry out such a task."

This latest incident follows a surprise announcement by the Environment Minister
that he was minded to allow further expansion at the airport by lifting the official
‘seats for sale’ or passenger limit – all without any proper public consultation.

That announcement was met with fury by local residents who are already gearing
up for a public inquiry into plans by the airport to extend its runway.

"We hope very much that, in the light of this latest incident, the Minister will
now change his mind and firmly reject the airport’s request to lift the ‘seats
for sale’ cap," said Dr Fawcett.

"The removal of that vital restriction would mean many more large aircraft would
be able to use the airport, heaping further misery on residents who already suffer
from both aircraft noise and the fear of a serious accident.   Larger aircraft
produce even more wake vortex disturbance, and so a greater damage to roofs.

"What we would say to the Minister is this – please start putting the interests
of ordinary people first. Literally tens of thousands of residents are affected
by aircraft noise.

"If the Minister feels further airport expansion is justified, Belfast has a
second airport with spare capacity just 30 minutes’ drive away   – it’s ludicrous
to even be contemplating further expansion at the City Airport."

Last year, BCAW carried out a survey of more than 400 individuals in areas in
east and south Belfast, and in north Down, affected by aircraft noise from the
City Airport.

The shock findings from this survey demonstrated the extent to which aircraft
noise is already a very real problem for many residents:

·         More than three-quarters (78%) of the 412 individuals surveyed said that
aircraft noise affected their sleep

·         Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they often had to stop talking
when a plane flew over because they couldn’t be heard

·         Of the 157 respondents with children, nearly half (46%) said their children
weren’t getting enough sleep because of aircraft noise.

·         More than a third (34%) of those with children said their children found
aircraft noise frightening.



Editor’s notes:

1.             Belfast City Airport Watch comprises thirteen residents’, community
and trade union organisations across affected areas within east and south Belfast,
and north Down. For more information on the campaign, visit:

2.             One of the householders whose bungalow was affected by this latest incident
was Karen Sanders (please check spelling of surname with her). Her tel no is 0784
997 3325. She lives in Oval Court off Mersey St.

3.             The ‘seats for sale’ restriction is contained in the airport’s Planning
Agreement which is an agreement between the Department of the Environment and
the Airport. The current Agreement came into force on 14th October 2008.

4.             The relevant clause restricts the number of seats offered for sale on
scheduled flights departing from the airport in any 12-month period to 2,000,000.
It was inserted on the recommendation of a panel which was appointed by the Planning
Service to conduct an official inquiry – termed an Examination in Public   – with
regard to the airport’s Planning Agreement. Its report was published in 2006.

For further information and interviews, please contact Liz Fawcett on 028 9020
0811 or 0771 943 5662.






Further roof tiles incident at Belfast City Airport

Comment from Belfast City Airport Watch re. this latest roof tiles incident in
Parkgate Drive:
Issued: 9th June, 2010
Dr Liz Fawcett, Chair of the Belfast City Airport Watch Steering Group said:
"It appears that we now have a further incident in which a low-flying aircraft
was responsible for dislodging roof tiles in east Belfast, and that, on this occasion,
a man was unfortunately injured.
"This is the second such incident in this area within the past few days, and
the third within the past nine months.
"In the light of these incidents, we are calling on the Environment Minister,
Edwin Poots, to insist – with immediate effect – that the airport does not allow
aircraft to fly so low over houses in this area.
"It is now imperative that the Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, commissions
an independent and transparent inquiry into these incidents, how further such
incidents can be avoided, and whether the level of safety risk to which residents
near the airport are being subjected is acceptable.
"We want the Minister to bring in the Civil Aviation Authority to carry out a
thorough review of safety – it is the UK body with responsibility for aviation
and is the only body with the expertise to undertake a robust review.
"We further call on the Minister to abandon his ill-judged proposal – announced
last Friday – to remove the airport’s official limit on the number of passengers
it can handle.
"This would result in many more large planes using the airport, and would increase
the intolerable noise problem which tens of thousands of local residents area
already facing.
"It seems incomprehensible that the Minister is even contemplating making this
move in the light of these latest alarming incidents."
Note: Belfast City Airport Watch is the umbrella group for residents affected
by aircraft noise in east and south Belfast, and north Down.


I was hit by roof tile dislodged by jet, claims Belfast resident

Thursday, 10 June 2010


Don Melrose with one of the tiles that fell off his roof in Parkgate Drive, Belfast  

Don Melrose with one of the tiles that fell off his roof in Parkgate Drive, Belfast



George Best Belfast City Airport is facing further pressure to launch an independent
inquiry into aircraft safety after an east Belfast man claimed he was injured
by a roof tile dislodged by a passing plane.

Don Melrose, who lives on Parkgate Drive, says he was hit on the top of the head
by a falling slate just as he was about to leave his property on Tuesday night.

He claims around six tiles were blown off as the aircraft made its landing approach
just after 10pm.

The plane also caused roof slates to dislodge from the home of his next door
neighbour Natasha McCready, it’s claimed.

It comes after roof tiles were blown off a bungalow in nearby Oval Court on Saturday.

Mr Melrose said he felt the aircraft which passed over on Tuesday night was flying
much lower than normal.

"The whole house just started to shake, then I heard a bang, turned round, took
a couple of steps and that’s when one of them hit me," Mr Melrose said. "I managed
to duck back into the house but it still caught me on the top of my head and deflected
on to my back."

Ms McCready (22) also said she felt the plane was flying lower than normal. "I
just heard this loud thundering sound and I looked out the window," she explained.

"A neighbour had to call my aunt to tell me the tiles had fallen off the roof
at the back of the house."

A spokesman from Belfast City Airport rejected claims that the aircraft caused
the tiles to dislodge, but added the airport was investigating the incidents.

"The airport’s track monitoring system which closely plots the height and trajectory
of aircraft approaching and departing the airport has been examined. It found
that the aircraft in question was not low flying and was approaching the airfield
in a normal and uniform manner," he said.

The Belfast City Watch Steering Group wants an independent body to carry out
an assessment on aircraft flightpaths.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told the Belfast Telegraph that it would be
willing to carry out a detailed investigation into the flightpaths for aircraft
flying into the City Airport but would need to be asked by the airport first.

The airport spokesman said it had already reported the three incidents to the
CAA and that it was carrying out its own investigation but "if deemed appropriate
we would consider asking the CAA to investigate".

link to article

See also

a report from a similar incident in September 2009, and more about wake turbulence
and votices, and cases from Birmingham airport at




A comment from an AirportWatch member at London City Airport:

We  hear and see wake turbulance every day now (up to 3 years ago  we never saw,
nor heard any), following a jet passing and the now huge increase in the use of
bigger jets out of London City Airport (LCY). The first report of suspected blue
ice (which is iced water from the aircraft lavatories) was also this year.

You would think that such events, which appear to go hand in hand with our airports
expanding, would be something that should be addressed in the planning process
under health and safety.   However, it seems that this is an issue no government
department wishes to touch.    Another planning faliure.