Gatwick’s Tom Denton says the controversial new flight navigation system is here to stay at Gatwick

Tom Denton, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Gatwick, has admitted that the airport would not rush to making changes to the use of PRNAV despite public opposition.  He said: “There was an acceptance that SHOULD there be detrimental impact we would seek to revert to previous methods.” However, there have been perceived detrimental impacts, and Gatwick does not intend to revert.  Residents in many areas – to the north and north west of the airport in particular – have been complaining about the use of more concentrated flight paths, which is what PRNAV (also called PBN – Performance Based Navigation) creates. This has meant that more planes fly in these new narrow corridors – though fewer planes fly in some other areas.  The Chairman of GATCOM (Gatwick Consultative Committee) wrote to Stewart ask Gatwick to honour a previous agreement to stop using PRNAV. Gatwick is one of the first UK airports to introduce the system, because Mr Denton said the quieter airspace around Gatwick meant PRNAV was easier to implement there.  Tom Denton said the matter would be assessed “on a factual basis” and not emotional responses.

Controversial new flight navigation system to stay at Gatwick Airport

11.3.2015 (Surrey Mirror)

By Chris Madden

That is the message from Tom Denton, the airport’s head of corporate responsibility.

Residents have been complaining about the use of Pr-nav, a new navigation system which means planes fly in tighter corridors, thereby meaning more planes fly over a smaller space.

Last week Gatcom, (Gatwick Consultative Committee) a group which advises airport bosses on issues affecting the community, sent a letter to Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate. Written by chairman Dr John Godfrey, it calls for Gatwick to honour a previous agreement to stop using Pr-nav due to its “detrimental effect” on the community.  (See link).

The system will become obligatory at UK airports in 2018, but Gatwick is already using it on all departing flights.  [It is one of the first airports in the country to do so].

Speaking to the Mirror, Mr Denton said the airport would not rush to make changes to the use of Pr-nav despite public opposition.

He said: “There was an acceptance that should there be detrimental impact we would seek to revert to previous methods.

“Having received all the feedback we are now in the process of assessing that information and assessing the impact of Pr-nav in order to determine if there has been a detrimental effect.”

He added: “Simply switching [Pr-nav] off across the nine routes we are using it on would be a massive undertaking. It is something we need to make sure we have assessed properly.”

While other airports have waited to implement Pr-nav, Mr Denton said the quieter airspace around Gatwick meant Pr-nav was easier to implement there.

But he admitted the system had not been used before and said Gatwick bosses had not known how the community would react.

However, he added: “There are significant positives. But, as is often the way, we hear more from those who are negatively affected.

“We have heard from some people who are happy they are no longer being over-flown, they like that. We are now looking, on a purely factual basis, at how many people are affected by the change to Pr-nav.”

Mr Denton said the assessment of the results of Pr-nav could take “days or weeks” but added it would be done “as quickly as possible”.



Change to controversial Gatwick flight path is ‘difficult but not impossible’

10.3.2015 (Surrey Mirror)

THE Gatwick flight path which has residents in Redhill, Reigate and Holmwood up in arms is being reviewed.

But Tom Denton, Gatwick’s head of corporate responsiblity, said it is not likely to change.

He also rejected suggestions the airport did not consult on the perceived change to the flight path.

Speaking to the Mirror this week, Mr Denton said Gatwick has the right to move aircraft around as needed below 4,000 feet in a set area of airspace around the airport.

He also said the apparent lack of consultation was due to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) – which regulates airports – which said it was not required.

Mr Denton said the change was made for safety reasons; moving aircraft slightly north allows planes a wider turning circle which makes them more stable on approach and takeoff.

Mr Denton rejected suggestions the change had created a “superhighway” in the sky over the towns.

He said: “In actual fact there is no ‘superhighway’, the swathe the planes are flying in is about six or seven miles wide. The aircraft are spread across quite a wide area.”

He said the matter would be assessed “on a factual basis” and not emotional responses.

But Mr Denton did not completely rule out a change to the much-maligned flight path.

He said: “Nothing is impossible. It is not set in stone.

“The CAA are trying to improve safety; if there’s been a couple of demonstrable safety benefits to the change then it is going to be very difficult to reverse.

“But that is not to say it’s impossible.”





Chairman of Gatwick GATCOM writes to Stewart Wingate, on withdrawal of routes with “detrimental effect”

The Chairman of GATCOM (the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee) has written to Stewart Wingate, to try to get some clarification for his committee, on PRNAV departure SID implementation at Gatwick. GAL had undertaken to revert to conventional navigation and the withdrawal of P-RNAV where there has been a “detrimental effect” on local communities. GATCOM is disappointed that GAL does not appear to be honouring this undertaking and many members and local communities feel badly let down, particularly in view of the negative effects some of them are now experiencing. GATCOM is asking Gatwick Airport to withdraw a/any P-RNAV SID where it is deemed that there has been a detrimental effect on local communities and revert to conventional navigation at the earliest opportunity. They are asking Mr Wingate quite how such “detrimental effect” has been quantified in the CAA’s airspace change process. GATCOM says it is important that the way in which the Government’s policy of minimising the number of people impacted by aircraft overflight and noise is fully understood and measures put in place to fully compensate those suffering significant disturbance as a result of changes for loss of property value. Also GATCOM want the CEO of the CAA, Andrew Haines, to attend a meeting of GATCOM to explain his interpretation of the present position to members.

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