Farnborough airport consultation on hugely expanding its airspace, for questionable reasons

Farnborough airport is consulting on its plans to hugely increase the amount of airspace it controls. This will have considerable impacts on general aviation fliers and helicopters in the area, as they would not be able to fly in the new Farnborough airspace, as at present, but would have to make large detours and fly lower, causing more noise to those living nearby. The aim of the airspace grab by Farnborough is thought to be to speed up the arrival of departure of the private jets and business jets which are the users of Farnborough, so the very few passengers per plane (about 2.7 on average, on planes designed to take hugely more) are spared any small delay. The airport has had declining numbers of flights in recent years, and is nowhere near to its target number. It is therefore surprising that the airport feels the need for such a large increase in its controlled airspace.There are real fears that this is in preparation for Farnborough attempting to expand into commercial aviation.  ‘Sky grabbing’ for future use for a much bigger operation? TAG could make a nice profit if it sells an airport with attached airspace!


Consultation launched on airspace rules as airport aims to double flight numbers

TAG Farnborough Airport would like residents and stakeholders to comment on proposals for new airspace rules, aimed at reducing noise

Farnborough Airport is consulting on airspace changes

TAG Farnborough Airport is urging residents to have their say on proposed airspace rules designed to reduce the impact on the area as flights double over the next five years.

The airport currently handles a maximum of 28,000 air traffic movements in and out of Farnborough each year, however, TAG has approval to gradually increase this.

By next year there will be around 45,000 ingoing and outgoing flights and this will increase to 50,000 by 2019.

Nearby areas such as Fleet and Church Crookham will see less flights overhead but small villages like Crondall could see an increase.

TAG’s master plan, which was set out in 2009 and approved in 2011, states the projected future growth of the airport will be well accommodated and its facilities are sufficient to cope with the increase in flights.

TAG is proposing to introduce new measures to help reduce noise around the airport. In December last year, the airport said it intended to submit an Aerospace Change Proposal (ACP) to the UK Civil Aviation Authority so planes would not disturb residents as frequently and could travel more efficiently.

A spokesman for TAG Farnborough Airport said: “Creating a known air traffic control environment will assist the airport in catering for an increasing number of air transport movements and do so in a way which benefits efficiency and safety for many airspace users, and the environment. The impact on residents and stakeholders has been of primary importance throughout the pre-consultation design phase.

“Noise is an important consideration for local people and the proposed design option aims to further reduce the overall impact of noise, for instance, by optimising arrival and departure routes.”

Kevin Daley, a member of the Farnborough Aerodrome Consultative Committee (FACC) and chairman of the Mytchett, Frimley Green and Deepcut society, said a number of constituents fought against plans to increase the airport’s traffic movements.

He said: “If they try to go beyond the 50,000 there might be a revolution. A lot of organisations objected quite strongly to the plans and around several thousand people were against the permission being granted.

“The biggest issue is the airport has never been at capacity. The number of large aircrafts is increasing and that is beginning to cause people concern and annoyance because the aircrafts are bigger, it’s the visual impact of an 80 tonne aircraft coming over the top of your house that is causing the impact.

“That has caused some complaints because people see aircrafts coming over their houses and think it is too low or off track.”

The airport currently operates within an uncontrolled air space, which is shared with other airports, so aircraft often have longer routings and a less predictable descent or climb, causing more aircraft to fly low over houses. The proposed new operating environment has elements of controlled airspace, so there is a more predictable flow of air traffic, resulting in fewer flights at a low altitude and aircraft flying fewer track miles around the airport.

Planes will also be able to climb higher more quickly and will remain higher for longer.

Brandon O’Reilly, chief executive of TAG, said: “We are seeking to make an application to the Civil Aviation Authority so planes that leave and arrive can have predetermined routes in built up areas.

“The prime objective is to reduce our impact on the environment.”

Last year the airport received 220 complaints regarding aircrafts that were too noisy, flying low or not appearing to be travelling on their correct paths.

TAG is encouraging members of the public, aviation stakeholders and other interested parties to provide feedback on the proposed airspace change. A public consultation was launched this week and will end on Friday May 2. Feedback will be analysed and, where appropriate, used to modify the proposal before an application is submitted in August.



One well informed comment under the article says:

These proposals are conveniently geared to give the wrong impression that noise will be reduced, and CO2 emissions will be less. What the proposals don’t say is how much general aviation (GA) traffic (light aircraft, helicopters, gliders) will be forced to fly lower and in the narrower corridors created. This is already a busy GA corridor and to squeeze the current GA traffic not controlled by Farnborough into smaller areas will create dangerous ‘choke-points’ with more risk of mid-air incidents (i.e.collisions!). These proposals are unsafe – mark my words. I’m a GA pilot (glider and powered) myself and have flown through this area many times. safely. If these come into effect, I shall fear for my safety in that area.

When the planning consent was given in 2009, the predictions they gave for 2013 movements has been significantly under-achieved. Gatwick now moves the amount of passengers in ONE DAY, that Farnborough would move in 2.9 years. So why do they want such a disproportional amount of airspace for themselves?Gatwick uses 660 cubic kilometres whilst Farnborough are asking for 1000 cubic kilometres. It cannot be justified for these numbers so we can only speculate on the real reason. ‘Sky grabbing’ for future use for a much bigger operation? TAG could make a nice profit if it sells an airport with attached airspace!

And the rubbish about reducing noise? Well, that’s so inaccurate. If they’re forcing other aircraft to fly lower under their airspace, then that will create MORE noise and CO2 emissions. They have only noted amounts of scheduled traffic and do not account for the many 1000s of GA movements in the area.

The document is also designed to make you weary of reading it and just to give up and agree. Thank god there are people out there who do take the time to understand it and can see it for what it really is – a ‘Sky-Grab’ for the rich and famous. Its just like a Limousine company buying up 2 lanes of the M25 so that their wealthy clients can travel quicker than us mere mortals.





Airspace Change Proposal

Early 2014 – (Rushmoor Borough Council website)

TAG Farnborough Airport is consulting on an Airspace Change Proposal before its submission to the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

TAG Farnborough Airport is currently consulting on an Airspace Change Proposal (ACP) with a view to introducing an improved operating environment in the skies around the airport. The proposal seeks to introduce ‘controlled’ airspace around the airport, which would involve some changes to flight paths for inbound and outbound aircraft.

“Airspace Change Proposal” is a formal UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) process that is being undertaken by TAG Farnborough Airport with the support of the CAA. It does not affect the planning controls in place regarding the operation of the Airport.

This is not a Rushmoor Borough Council consultation, but is being led by TAG Farnborough Airport. The council is a stakeholder in the consultation process and will be responding as a consultee.

The Consultation is running from Monday 3 February to Friday 2 May 2014 and you can leave feedback on the proposed changes on the TAG Farnborough Airport Airspace Change Proposal website.

You can also find more information on TAG’s proposal and documents page




Farnborough Airspace change proposal

 17 Feb 2014 (Flyer magazine – for enthusiasts of flying small aircraft)

TAG Farnborough Airport Ltd is proposing a significant airspace change and, as required, is running a consultation with all stakeholders prior to submitting the change proposal to the CAA.

The consultation began on 3 February and runs until 2 May. Everyone is invited to participate by reading the document and leaving feedback via the website atwww.consultation.tagfarnborough.com

TAG expects to collate the consultation responses in May and June before reporting back in July and submitting an airspace change proposal to the CAA in August this year. TAG’s aim is that the CAA will reach a decision by November and that the new airspace will be implemented during the first half of 2015.

The airspace change proposal is being driven, according to TAG, by the increased number of movements the airport is allowed to handle under new planning permission. According to TAG, the airport handled 23,000 movements and, again according to TAG, that number is expected to rise to between 32,000 and the maximum 50,000 by 2019.

To put that into context, Gloucester, an airport with a mix of traffic ranging from microlight training to IFR [Instrument Flight Rules ] business jet and passenger flights, recorded over 73,000 movements in 2012, three times that of Farnborough, and given the relatively low number of people on most business jet flights, it is likely that the numbers of people involved in those movements show similar ratios.

The proposal makes it clear that the goal of the airspace change is to afford protection to Farnborough’s IFR operations, and claims are made that the airspace needed to do this has been kept to a minimum.

The problem is, that ‘minimum’ is HUGE and creates an effective airspace block to traffic wishing to transit the area from and to pretty much any direction. While clearance through class D airspace is, in general, relatively easy to obtain (if you are radio-equipped), there are genuine fears that the amount of GA traffic in the area requiring transits will, at times, overwhelm the controller capacity available and result in aircraft being stuck orbiting in relatively small areas, leading to an unacceptable increase in the risk of a mid-air collision.

While a lot of effort appears to have gone into the airspace design, the changes will doubtless result in confusion and airspace busts, with CTR3 and CTR4 looking somewhat ‘magnetic’.

Go online, read the consultation, make your views known and if you aren’t a member already, join one of the organisations and help strengthen their voice too. Sorry TAG, this is just way over the top. Read more comment in the April issue of FLYER magazine, on sale 27 February.






The average plane occupancy at Farnborough may have risen, though it was only 2.7 in 2009.  Link 

Growth has stalled over the  past year or more.  In the full year 2012 there were 21,986 business flights and 25,821 total flights (much lower than in 2008 and 2007 when there were 24,227 and 25,101 business flights respectively).

In February 2011 the airport was permitted to increase its number of annual flights to 50,000 from 28,000 but with the current low numbers, that is irrelevant. As the airport is not managing to get enough flights, it is more keen than ever to get commercial passenger flights.

It needs about 25,000 movements  per year, for financial viability. Already some 8 – 10% of the flights are planes of over 80 tonnes. The B737, the A319 and the A320 can accommodate 120 passengers, but are used as private jets.

The airport currently operates within Class G (uncontrolled) airspace, which is shared with other airports, gliding sites and general aviation activities. Its Airspace Change Proposal would make changes which would affect other airspace users. There is due to be a 12 week consultation, starting in Feb 2014 and ending in May 2014 which was intended to start at the end of October, but this was delayed.




Hampshire airport’s extension plans will increase Winchester air traffic

12th April 2014  ( Hampshire Chronicle)

By Charlotte Neal,

Hampshire Chronicle: This diagram shows the areas that will be affected by the plans
This diagram shows the areas that will be affected by the plans

A HAMPSHIRE airport has sparked controversy by pursuing ambitious expansion plans which would add to air-traffic over Winchester if they go ahead.

TAG Farnborough Airport – largely used for business and VIP jets – began a public consultation in February ahead of submitting its Airspace Change Proposal to the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

But those fighting the plans says they would see its controlled airspace increase to almost twice the size of Gatwick’s, with low altitude flights over towns and villages.

Currently there are 25,000 flights in and out of Farnborough a year, but permission is in place to increase that number to 50,000 until 2019.

If the proposals go ahead, towns across Hampshire, Dorset and West Sussex, including the east of Winchester, Alresford and the Itchen Valley, would face an sharp rise in the number of aircrafts.

The public consultation lasts until May 2, and many residents and politicians are up in arms about how best to tackle the issue – which some say could see the collision risk rise seven-fold.

Steve Brine, MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford, said he is working closely with neighbouring MPs, gliding clubs and the Department for Transport to find out what the proposal means for his constituency.

“Opponents of the proposals have described them as a ‘land grab of the skies’ and when you consider TAG is reportedly applying for approximately twice the volume of controlled airspace that London Gatwick Airport uses to handle just over 34 million passengers per year, you can see their point,” he said.

“As ever, it’s important we understand the facts of what’s being proposed here and drill right into the detail, something more important than ever in this case given the technical nature of the consultation which is not that accessible to anyone without some level of aviation knowledge.

“For-instance, we need to know exactly the space covered by what’s known as area ‘C’ and pin-down the minimum altitude levels which are key to the impact for those of us on the ground.”

However, it would seem the online consultation has caused confusion.

Jon Bastin, pilot of 40 years and spokesman for the Lasham Gliding Club based in Alton, the largest of its kind in the world, said it doesn’t inform people sufficiently.

“The general point is that is that they have produced this major so-called technical document – it’s not a technical document, it’s an art form in misdirection and misinformation which misleads people,” he said.

“The analogy is that this is the equivalent of a private limousine company commandeering two lanes of the M25 motorway for its own exclusive use.”

Mr Bastin said the current gap between the Gatwick/Heathrow and Southampton airspaces is 26 miles but under the proposal would be reduced to five, effectively shunting traffic elsewhere, creating a bottleneck and increasing the collision risk seven fold.

It will also create a sharp corner over Petersfield, which Mr Bastin described as “killer corner”.

The gliding club has recently set up a campaign team against the proposals, and spokesman Bill Bullimore said they are doing everything they can to see it overthrown.

“It’s dangerous,” he said.

“It’s like having a brick wall on one side.

“Ninety of our members have sent letters of objection to their MPs. This could be a death knell for Lasham, and the control could stop us from holding the European Gliding Championships in 2017.”

Roger Walker, director of airport operations at TAG Farnborough Airport said: “The environment is of prime importance to TAG Farnborough Airport and we are committed to reducing noise in and around the airport.

“The proposed airspace design would offer all airspace users predictability and consistency of operations, leading to further reductions in noise and CO2 emissions.

“It is also set to improve efficiency and enhance safety.”