Air chiefs reject new flight proposals

AIR chiefs have rejected radical ideas to prevent holding jets circling over the peaceful Suffolk countryside waiting to land at Stansted airport.

AIR chiefs have rejected radical ideas to prevent holding jets circling over the peaceful Suffolk countryside waiting to land at Stansted airport.

Two new stacks have been proposed which could affect more than 35 villages between Stowmarket and Hadleigh with an airliner overhead every two minutes at peak times, and also communities near Newmarket.

Suffolk Preservation Society suggested to air management company NATS that a different approach to stacking be considered - keeping aircraft on the runway for longer at the start of journeys to eliminate the need to hold planes in the sky.

SPS director Richard Ward said: “Holding aircraft at the end of their journey is disruptive, wasteful on fuel and adds to climate change problems, and is the worst possible way of dealing with the phasing of the landing of aircraft.

“It also has a profound affect on many people living in the Suffolk countryside, who suffer extensive noise disturbance as a result.

“With others, we would support a wholly different approach where stacking effectively takes place at the commencement of the journey, on the runway before departure, rather than at the end.

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“We do not underestimate the significant work and changes that would be made to facilitate this but believe such an option requires proper and careful consideration.”

But officials at NATS have thrown out the proposal and say it just would not work.

“Aircraft flying to Luton and Stansted have a scheduled arrival time which the airport would be able to accommodate without holding if the aircraft were guaranteed to arrive exactly on time,” said a NATS spokesman.

“However, the accuracy of the actual arrival times can be affected by a great number of factors including the ability to take off from the origin airport on time, congestion in other parts of the airspace system, and weather, in particular tail and head winds which affect aircraft speeds.

“These factors can lead to aircraft arriving in 'bunches' rather than in an efficient sequence ready for landing.

“The use of holding facilities is therefore essential in the safe management of such bunches and also for emergency situations such as runway closures. They also provide a vital role in ensuring that runways can be efficiently utilised.”

NATS does all it can to keep holding to a minimum but does not yet have the technology to guarantee a no delay arrival.

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