Consultation on Southend Airport Controlled Airspace application – till mid December

Now Southend has many more flights than a couple of years ago, the airport wants to have control of its immediate airspace(which it had years ago, when it was busier). There is a 12 week consultation at Southend on its plans to introduce controlled airspace around the airport. The consultation started on 20th September and ends on 19th December. Airspace users and local community groups including borough, local and parish councils, are being consulted,  though individuals are discouraged from responding, unless they channel their responses through some of the consultee organisations. Currently aircraft are permitted to come within 2.5 miles and 2000 feet of the airport without having to talk to air traffic controllers, which can lead to unplanned alterations to an aircraft’s track and possible delays to scheduled aircraft.  Controlled Airspace is a defined area of the airspace around an airport where any aircraft must communicate with Air Traffic Control.  The final decision over whether to reinstate the Controlled Airspace rests with the CAA. 




Consultation for London Southend Airport Controlled Airspace gets underway 

25.9.2013  (Rochford Life)

Airspace users and local community groups are being consulted over the next 12 weeks about plans to reintroduce controlled airspace at London Southend Airport.The process – which includes borough, local and parish councils – started on 20 September 2013 and will last for 12 weeks, completing on 19 December 2013.London Southend Airport is making this application in order to further safeguard aircraft on approach to and departure from the airport and minimise distance flown to reduce environmental impacts.

The Airport had Controlled Airspace until 1993, when it was removed following a reduction in scheduled services using the airport. Temporary Controlled Airspace was also in operation at the airport in summer 2012 during the London Olympic Games.

Controlled Airspace is a defined area of the airspace around an airport where any aircraft must communicate with Air Traffic Control. The application to introduce controlled airspace was one of the commitments the airport made to local councils and community groups as part of the airport’s redevelopment.

Currently aircraft are permitted to come within 2.5 miles and 2000 feet of London Southend Airport without having to talk to air traffic controllers, which can lead to unplanned alterations to an aircraft’s track and possible delays in the arrival and departure of scheduled aircraft.

It is envisaged the entire application process – which started in August 2012 – will take around two years to complete.

London Southend Airport Operations Director David Lister said “Safety and security are our number one priority.  Controlled Airspace safeguards aircraft when they are approaching and departing the airport. Improving our efficiency by getting aircraft in and out of the airport without  alterations and delays will also minimise the impact of the airport on the local community and is better for the environment. Temporary Controlled Airspace around London Southend Airport was operated very successfully during the London 2012 Games. With passenger operations having been re-established to the level of our previous peak, when controlled airspace was previously in operation we believe the re-establishment of controlled airspace around London Southend Airport is now appropriate.”

The final decision over whether to reinstate the Controlled Airspace over London Southend Airport will be taken by the Safety and Airspace Regulation Group (SARG) within the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The consultation document  and more background to the airspace consultation, can be viewed at


London Southend Airport – Proposal to Re-Establish Controlled
Airspace in the Vicinity of London Southend Airport

(Maps on pages 105 and 106)


This says, in relation to comments by members of the public:

“Although predominantly an aviation-related consultation, the views of members of the public are valued and they are invited to contribute to the consultation process. The preferred way for the public to participate is through their representative organisations (eg Parish Councils etc) although nothing should deter anyone from partaking individually should they wish to.
1.3.4. A full list of consultees is given at Appendix D and has been developed in discussion with the CAA.”


Southend Airport bid to control airspace

27th September 2013,    Southend Echo

Southend Airport bid to control airspace

SOUTHEND Airport’s move to take control of airspace within 2.5 miles, in an effort to cut delays and improve safety, has taken a step forward.


A temporary zone was brought in during the Olympics last year, which was said to have been successful. It is expected the control could be in place by summer 2014.


The consultation is open to interested parties including councils and airlines, but not the general public [the general public can comment, but are somewhat discouraged from doing so].




Some general background information on controlled airspace.

Farnborough airport also consulted on airspace changes at the end of 2012.

.  At present, Farnborough and Southend and other similar airports have a small area of airspace that they administer, shown as a small circle on the UK airspace map. The larger airports which have their own Controlled Airspace have a rectangular space, with rounded ends, the size of which is determined by the number of passengers using the airport.  The size of the area has to be 5 miles each side of the runway, and  at least 10 miles from each end of the runway, ie. 20 miles long.  The controlled airspace goes up to 3,500 feet above sea level. Norwich airport recently applied for controlled airspace, details and got it.  Applications have to be made to the DAP – the Director of Airspace Policy, which is part of the CAA, and the SRG – the Safety Regulation Group. CAA gets its mandate on this from the DfT.  The CAP 724 Airspace Charter  is the CAA document that defines all UK airspace.  Details

Once above 3,000 feet, aircraft are controlled from the Swanick Control Centre. At present, as a hang over from times when there were older planes without modern technology, many aircraft still climb to 3,000 feet, then throttle back and change radio frequency from control by the airport to control from Swanick.  This is inefficient, both in terms of fuel use – and in making more noise than necessary. Climbing steadily up to 18,000 feet or so is better both for carbon emissions and noise.

It is expensive for an airport to get its airspace changed, due to the disruption to other airspace users, and re-routing that has to be done. Airports much prefer to have their own controlled airspace, as it makes life easier for the pilots. They then know there will be no other planes in their path, and do not have to be aware of gliders etc, and take evasive action.  Gliders, made of wood, do not show up well on radar, and they do not have to carry transponders.

A lot of temporary changes to airspace were made, for the Olympics. Farnborough, Southampton and Southend  all got a free trial period for their airspace, due to the Olympics. There were a great many temporary changes to airpace across the south east, for the Olympics, and a website for London 2012 Airspace at

There are environmental implications of changing airspace, including noise, visual amenity, air pollution and carbon emissions, but NATS and the CAA have decided that there will be no environmental consultation. This comes partly as a result of the huge protests against NATS when they planned to introduce changes to airspace and flight paths in the Terminal Control North area in summer 2008.  All concerns about safety have to be addressed. Those about environment probably do not.

Eurocontrol want to harmonise airspace control, and NATS will be pleased about this, in helping them avoid consultation on environmental impacts.