Answers sought about flightpaths

The Evening Star has asked 20 Questions of CAA/NATS about the expansion of Stansted airport.

Questions we are asking bosses at the CAA/NATS:

1. How many commercial planes are crossing Suffolk daily and annually (2006 figure) on flights to or from UK airports and foreign destinations?

2. What is the maximum number of planes per day which could use the flight corridors over the Felixstowe area?

3. What is the maximum capacity - the total number of planes - which could use the air space over east Suffolk in a 24-hour period?

4. There appears to be an increase in night-time flying over the Felixstowe area and consequently more noise. Are there rules which govern night-time flying over urban areas? Do flights have to stop by a certain time?

5. Who decides how many flights can take place over an area?

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6. Planes are flying over Felixstowe when there is so much open countryside with fewer people living in it both north and south of the area. Is the impact on communities under the flightpaths not taken into account?

7. Planes fly over the Felixstowe area throughout the day and night, seven days a week. Why can the flightpaths not be adjusted by a few degrees north or south to take the air traffic away from the urban area on certain days of the week to give residents a break from the constant noise?

8. Could the current flights not be made to fly higher to cut noise?

9. Are the flightpaths which are chosen purely profit-driven - the easiest routes for the airlines to reach their destinations as fast as possible and use as little fuel as they can?

10. Councils say they have no jurisdiction to deal with aircraft noise - so who does monitor it and would be responsible for taking action to curb it, particularly in areas away from airports?

11. Have any assessments been carried out of the noise from the planes and the public's perception of the increased noise in Suffolk over the past few years?

12. Aviation rules allow aircraft to fly as low as 1,000ft over urban areas. There are real concerns that if Stansted expands to fit more planes into the airspace they will be forced to fly lower than the current levels - would that happen?

13. Changes were made to the Clacton Airspace in 2004 to create extra capacity. Has this capacity been reached yet?

14. If not, what is the increase in usage of the airspace since the change was brought into effect?

15. When would the maximum capacity be expected to be reached, bearing in mind the government's predictions for the increase in air travel in the years ahead?

16. Is it true that new proposals to alter airspace over Suffolk will be brought forward later this year?

17. Is this specifically to deal with the proposed expansion of Stansted?

18. What areas of Suffolk will be affected?

19. Last time there were changes to airspace only councils - some of which have admitted they did not have the expertise to take part in the consultation - were asked for their views. Will the public be consulted properly this time?

20. There is growing environmental concerns about the impact of aircraft flying over urban areas. What measurements have been taken to examine air pollution from aircraft fumes and vapour trails over Suffolk?