Jury still out on Heathrow operational freedom trials
Heathrow has been running its ‘operational freedoms’ trial for several months, from November 2011 to February 2012. This is the first of two trial periods, with the second during the Olympics, from July to September this year. BAA produces results of the trials, and a daily report, which are very difficult indeed to interpret. The trials are to allow Heathrow to use both runways for takes offs or landings, if a delay builds up, so flights do not suffer more than a minimum delay. It appears that an average of 23 aircraft landed on the ‘wrong’ runway each day during the first two months of the ‘operational freedom’ trials at Heathrow, which compares to a daily average of 12 during the same period in 2010. The number of complaints received by BAA rose significantly but more analysis is being carried out on the reason for this.
12/3/12: (HACAN press release)
An average of 23 aircraft landed on the ‘wrong’ runway each day during the first two months of the ‘operational freedom’ trials at Heathrow (1). That compares to a daily average of 12 during the same period in 2010 and 8 in both 2009 and 2008. It represents 3-4% of all aircraft. The figures are revealed in a report by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), published at the end of last month (2).
The ‘operational freedoms’ trial ran from November to February. It allowed BAA to land planes out of alternation if delays were building up. Normally, aircraft switch runways at 3pm to allow residents in the boroughs closest to Heathrow a half day’s break from the noise.
The interim CAA report to the Secretary of State for Transport just covers the first two months of the trials: November and December. It showed that the number of complaints received by BAA rose significantly but urges caution on whether this was related to the trials. Further analysis if this is being carried out.
Surprisingly the trials appear to have led to little improvement in the punctuality of aircraft using the airport.
A second trial is scheduled for three months during the Summer. If the Government then decides that BAA should have the right to use ‘operational freedoms’ on a permanent basis, the proposals will be subject to public consultation.
John Stewart, the Chair of HACAN, the organisation campaigning to cut noise which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said, “We need more information before we can make a real assessment of the impact and value of operational freedoms.”
Notes for Editors:
(1). The report makes clear that this figure excludes figures from a separate trial which took place only in December where all planes using Terminal 4 landed on the southern runway. This meant that that an additional 1-5 planes per day were landing out of alternation. It also excludes the period between 6am and 7am when BAA has always had permission to land planes on both runways. The report also makes clear that the use of operational freedoms for departures was minimal.
For further information: John Stewart on 07957385650
Heathrow runway trial will relax noise limits and cause more noise for many
3.10.2011 People living under Heathrow flight paths face increased noise after the introduction of new runway rules. BAA is to trial a scheme allowing the use of both runways simultaneously from July to Sept 2012. Currently, those living under the flight path have a respite from noise when the runways alternate at 3pm. Under the trial, which will also run from November to February, the threshold for triggering emergency dual use of the runways will be lowered. Residents could face increased noise from losing some of their respite periods. Click here to view full story…
People living under the Heathrow flight path face increased noise after the introduction
of new runway rules.
The airport’s operator, BAA, is to trial a scheme allowing the use of both runways
simultaneously from July to September. Currently, those living under the flight
path have a respite from noise in the afternoon, when the runways are restricted
to take-off or landing, alternating daily.
Under the trial, which will also run from November to February, the threshold
for triggering emergency dual use of the runways will be lowered. During the
trial, dual use can be permitted when a plane faces a 10-minute wait to land or
take off and if 30% of all flights are delayed by more than 15 minutes. The average
delay for flights is 12 minutes.
John Stewart, of the Hacan Clearskies environmental campaign group, said: “There
is a real danger that people will remember the Olympics simply for the noise of
A spokeswoman for BAA said: “The trial will not involve significant long-term
breaches of respite periods. These changes do not mean there will always be flights
overhead for some communities.”
There is information from BAA about the trial on their website at Operational Trial