London Luton Airport (LLA) and air traffic control provider NATS are urging communities to respond to a public consultation on proposed changes to the Airport’s arrival paths, as the consultation period reaches the halfway mark. The joint consultation is looking at two options to simplify the arrival routes for flights into the country’s fifth busiest Airport, segregating them from Stansted’s arrival routes, to ensure continued safety.
While both proposed options offer differences to the arrival routes, a new hold, west of Huntingdon over the A1 and A14, is included in both. Existing flightpaths to the south and west, and military training activity further north prevent the hold being placed in an alternative location. During the development of the proposal, other locations and the option of no hold at all were evaluated and rejected on safety grounds.
The proposed hold would only be used at the busiest times or during adverse weather conditions. Under the proposal, holding is likely to be less frequent than today, for both airports, as arrivals would be separated from each other much higher up and further away.
The lowest aircraft in the proposed holding area would be at 8,000ft, with no more than one at that altitude, as all the rest would be even higher. A new infographic explaining why a hold is being proposed, when it will be used, how it will work and height comparisons offers additional details for those with specific questions and concerns about it.
In order to safely segregate the arrival flows of both airports, some new areas may be overflown by Luton arrivals. Conversely, other communities would be overflown less often. Noise impacts are subjective, and the noise experienced from an overflight will depend on a range of factors, including how directly overhead the flight is, the weather, background noise and local environment. An online postcode tool allows anyone living or working in the impacted areas to see what the changes may mean for them.
Both options use performance-based navigation (PBN) routes to varying degrees and this is line with Government policy. The first option uses PBN at higher altitudes to separate Luton’s arrivals from Stansted’s. The second, preferred option, extends the availability of PBN to final approach, which allows a predictable, more equitable distribution of flights for communities beneath.
An airspace change proposal takes a number of years and LLA and NATS expect to submit a formal proposal for the CAA’s consideration in Summer 2021; any changes that are approved will not be in place before 2022. Early engagement included the military, local councils and other stakeholders such as local campaign organisations, aviation groups and a representative of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Now it is everyone’s opportunity to have a say and influence the outcome.
Anyone can provide feedback on any aspect of this proposal in their response and comments, documents, pictures or diagrams can also be submitted. Comments on the location or altitude of the hold, the routes, shortcuts, airspace volumes, all are welcome. All responses are required by law to be considered and all opinions will be listened to.
Recognising that the consultation document itself is long with a lot of necessary technical information included, and as a result of feedback from stakeholders, a shorter version is now available. This allows individuals to understand more quickly the proposal’s basic information and associated context. The longer, unabridged version is still available and remains the master source of data, details and context.
Social distancing requirements are expected to continue until after the consultation closes so a Virtual Exhibition offers everyone access to all the information they need to make an informed decision and provide feedback that will help determine the final proposal. Online webinars also provide an opportunity to put questions to the subject matter experts involved in this proposal, with four different dates and times still available for people to register. Previous webinars were recorded and are available to view in the Virtual Exhibition.
Neil Thompson, Operations Director, London Luton Airport, said, “We would encourage anyone in the areas affected to visit the virtual exhibition to find out what the changes might mean for them. We have online Q&A sessions available in December and January, so please do register for one and speak to us directly about your concerns. Everyone has the right to respond and we want to hear from as many people as possible.”
To find out more and submit a response, visit https://www.nats.aero/vr/ad6/
Dates, times and registration details for online webinars can also be found here.
This consultation runs from 19 October 2020 until 5 February 2021.