Cardiff Airport consultation on planned concentrated RNAV flight paths

Cardiff Airport is now holding a consultation for all those potentially affected by changes to its flight paths. As with all other airports and airspace across the UK, RNAV ( aRea NAVigation ) is to be introduced, so planes can fly more accurate tracks, resulting in more concentrated flight paths. The existing Cardiff routes used by aircraft (termed “conventional” routes) rely on 1950s technology of ground based radio beacons. Now RNAV uses a combination of satellite and ground-based navigation technology which enables pilots to fly pre-determined, predictable arrival profiles.  Processes are underway at a European level to make modernisation of the route system a legal requirement for the UK and other European states by 2020. The CAA is planning to mandate that all operators will have to be RNAV 1 approved by November 2017, and then require RNAV routes to be introduced by winter 2019. The Cardiff consultation started on 15th December 2014 and ends on 20th March 2015 (another part of the document says 27th).  Email responses should be sent to:


Cardiff Airport consultation on new routes using RNAV

Cardiff consultation document
In March 2013, Cardiff Airport was bought by the Welsh Government and a strategy has been implemented which addressed every aspect of the business
including a number of improvements to enhance the customer experience.

This consultation is part of our commitment to keep the local community informed of advances in technology which could impact on how aircraft navigate at Cardiff and other airports across the World.

Area Navigation (RNAV) is at the heart of new technology with the potential to streamline air traffic procedures, ultimately delivering fuel savings, reduced emissions and an improved noise environment for people on the ground.

While its full utilisation may be some years in the future we believe that RNAV, which uses satellite based navigation systems to ensure more reliable, repeatable and predictable flight paths, is worth investing in today. This document provides further details on the case for doing so, and explains the procedures involved.

This document describes the Cardiff Airport proposal to replicate, implement and eventually replace the current final approach routes into Cardiff Airport with more accurately defined routes utilising the improved capabilities of modern aircraft.

Section 2 explains what Area Navigation (RNAV) is, how it will be used, and its potential benefits. It also clarifies the scope of the consultation.

Section 3 explains why this consultation is required and lists the stakeholders with whom we are consulting.

Section 4 provides an overview of current operations at Cardiff Airport including diagrams illustrating the tracks taken by aircraft approaching the airfield.

Section 5 sets out the proposed RNAV routes, which are designed to replicate the current tracks as closely as possible.

Section 6 sets out environmental considerations.

Section 7 sets out how stakeholders should respond to the consultation and explains what will happen next.

The existing routes used by aircraft (termed “conventional” routes) rely on 1950s technology of ground based radio beacons. A well established and much more accurate form of navigation is aRea NAVigation (RNAV) which uses a combination of satellite and ground-based navigation technology to permit aircraft to follow a precisely defined path over the ground with far greater accuracy than is possible with conventional routes. This in turn enables pilots to fly pre-determined, predictable arrival profiles.

Aircraft today already use RNAV extensively to fly in our airspace, even though the existing conventional routes have not been specifically designed for its use. Processes are underway at a European level to make modernisation of the route system a legal requirement for the UK and other European states by 2020. This will require all member states, including the UK, to upgrade routes to the RNAV standards. This legislation will be enacted by UK mandates to be introduced by the Civil
Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA is planning to mandate that all operators will have to be RNAV 1 approved by November 2017, and then require RNAV routes to be introduced by winter 2019. Modernising our conventional routes is therefore mandatory and inevitable; this consultation concerns how we intend to achieve this at Cardiff Airport with minimal impact to our stakeholders.

By giving pilots a defined flight path from beginning to end they can plan a descent which avoids level segments, optimises power settings and speed in the descent, configures the aircraft for minimum noise, reduces fuel burn and keeps the aircraft higher over the ground for longer. Such operations are known as Continuous Descent Operations involving unbroken descent from cruising altitude to the runway.

The introduction of RNAV replications of the current procedures will enable more effective and reliable use of Continuous Descent Operations.

The aim of this proposed change is to build on these UK and European initiatives, utilising the latest navigation technology to enable modern aircraft to achieve the benefits mentioned above.

The proposal does not influence or change the number of aircraft able to use the airport and traffic numbers are not expected to increase as a consequence of the change.


The purpose of this consultation is to obtain feedback from stakeholders who may be affected by or have an interest in this proposal. Cardiff Airport has spoken with the CAA on the consultation process and they have agreed that provided this airspace change proposal replicates the existing patterns of aircraft arriving at Cardiff Airport today and does not introduce any additional residents to aircraft noise or introduce new volumes of traffic, it is appropriate for the consultation process to include:

– The Cardiff Airport Consultative Committee which includes representatives of the local community and other organisations that have expressed an interest in the activities of the Airport;

– Local authorities in the neighbourhood of the airport or whose area of responsibility is overflown by the routes which are to be affected but who are not already represented on the Cardiff Airport Consultative Committee;  [The two local authorities being consulted are
Bristol City Council and Rhondda Cynon Taff County Council]

– Bristol City Council

– The Ministry of Defence;

– The airlines operating at Cardiff Airport; and

– Principal airspace users and stakeholders as represented on the National Air Traffic Management Advisory Committee (NATMAC).

[The only environmental group being consulted is the AEF  (Aviation Environment Federation].

The consultation follows the procedures set out in CAP 725 and the Cabinet Office Code of Practice on Consultation. This consultation document has been prepared by Cardiff International Airport Limited with assistance from NATS.

The consultation period begins on 15th December 2014 and will run until 20 th March 2015. Details of how to respond and the next steps can be found in Section 7.


Proposed RNAV Routes

The proposed RNAV approaches have been designed to replicate the current aircraft tracks as closely as possible in order to reduce additional impact to local residents. The proposed approaches are shown in broad context in Figure 8 [not copied here – but the black line] and then overlaid on the existing aircraft tracks in Figure 9. These approaches are defined by a series of waypoints; those identified as the Initial Approach Fix (IAF) and the Intermediate Fix (IF) being ‘fly-by’ points and the Final Approach Fix (FAF) being ‘fly-over’ points.

Aircraft will fly directly overhead a ‘fly-over’ point but will generally turn inside a fly-by way point, using it as a reference about which to make a turn.

Figure 9: Proposed RNAV Routes Overlaid on Existing Aircraft Tracks
cardiff RNAV proposed routes Jan 2015
And more details at

Cardiff airport consultation document



How to respond

Email is the preferred response mechanism, although postal responses will be accepted and processed in the same way.

All responses should be titled RNAV Consultation and should state clearly in the first line on whose behalf the response is being made.

Responses must also state whether or not the respondent agrees to personal details being passed to the CAA, by amending the following text as appropriate:

I/We agree/do not agree that personal details contained within this response may be sent to the CAA as part of the Airspace Change Proposal.



Responses should also include one of the three statements below:

–  I/We support the proposal for implementation of RNAV replications of approach routes at Cardiff Airport.

–  I/We object to the proposal for implementation of RNAV replications of approach routes at Cardiff Airport.

–  I/We have no objection to the proposal for implementation of RNAV replications of approach routes at Cardiff Airport.
Subsequent text should then substantiate the reasons for support or objection.
Please include contact details for use in the event of any queries relating to your response. The CAA requires all consultation material to be included in any formal submission. If you do not want your name and address details to be passed to the CAA, please ensure you opt out using the wording provided above.

Apart from providing details to the CAA, Cardiff Airport undertakes that personal details or content of responses and submission will not be disclosed to any third parties without prior permission.
This document can be viewed online

Email responses should be sent to:
Postal responses should be sent to:
RNAV consultation
Head of Airfield Ops
Cardiff AirportCF62 3BD


A report summarising responses to this consultation will be published on the Cardiff Airport web site shortly after the closing date. Respondents will be sent a link to a copy of this report using the contact details provided.

Taking all responses into consideration, Cardiff Airport will then submit a formal proposal for the implementation of RNAV approach replications including full details of all consultation responses and any related correspondence. The CAA will then review the proposal (which can take up to 17 weeks) and reach a regulatory decision.

If the proposal is approved, the implementation process could take a further 12 weeks.

This consultation is being conducted by Cardiff Airport but is overseen by the CAA’s Safety and Airspace Regulation Group (SARG) to ensure compliance with the process set out in CAP 725 (see section 3).


If you have any comments on the way in which this consultation is being conducted, please contact:
Head of Business Management
Safety & Airspace Regulation Group
CAA House
45-49 Kingsway