Sir Howard Davies' Airports Commission: Air travel could be transformed within a few years – with no more 'stacking'

 

An end to flying around in circles over the Home Counties: that is the prospect if the Davies Commission's short-term proposals for dealing with the aviation capacity crunch are accepted. But residents of west London face even more landings before 6am.

Attention on the interim review from Sir Howard Davies' Airports Commission has focused on the short-list of new runways. But with 2030 set as the deadline for extra capacity, the commission has come up with a wide-ranging prescription for coping until then.

The most dramatic proposal, which will find favour with passengers and residents alike, is to eliminate the practice of "stacking" in South East England. At present, aircraft heading for Heathrow are often held over one of four beacons in the Home Counties while they await clearance to land at Europe's busiest airport.

Holding planes in stacks allows air-traffic controllers efficiently to sequence the arrival of aircraft to make full use of the runway capacity. But it is expensive in fuel, environmental impact and time.

Sir Howard said: "There are many inefficiencies in the way airspace is managed."

Airlines could face fines if they turn up in London's airspace either early or late. The commission urged the air-traffic control firm, NATS, to "Encourage greater adherence to schedule by airlines through stricter enforcement of aircraft required time of arrival at fixed points en route."

A perennial bottleneck is the hour between 6am and 7am. Many airlines schedule arrivals at Heathrow for that hour, because earlier touch-downs are heavily restricted. But Sir Howard recommends "smoothing" the timetables - tackling the surge by allowing more aircraft to land between 5am and 6am.

To dampen opposition from local residents, he also says that the practice of landing on both runways simultaneously in the early morning should end, except at times of disruption.

At present Heathrow's usual mode of operation is that one runway is designated for landings and the other for departing aircraft. They switch at 3pm daily to allow respite for communities near the airport.

The Airports Commission considered the merits of "mixed mode" operations at Heathrow, whereby both runways are used for take-offs and landings simultaneously. It could increase the airport's capacity by around 15 per cent without extra building.

Sir Howard ruled out mixed-mode in the short term. But anti-expansion campaigners are likely to be angered by two of his proposals. The first is to switch tactically to mixed-mode when arrival delays as short as 10 minutes arise. Longer term, the commission envisages that mixed-mode could be employed ahead of the opening of a third runway at Heathrow. That would allow a gradual build-up of traffic rather than opening the floodgates for a sudden increase in operations when the new runway is ready.

The Davies Commission also called upon the Civil Aviation Authority to remove the obligation for air-traffic controllers to space out landings when both Heathrow runways are used for arrivals. It wants the runways to be deemed independent of each other.

While Sir Howard prescribes measures aimed at preventing the build-up of delays, some passengers could find that their flight is pro-actively cancelled. When disruption is forecast, says the report, airlines, air-traffic controllers and the airport should manage the problem by cancelling certain flights a day ahead.

The Davies Commission also called on the government to provide parliamentary time for establishing an Independent Aviation Noise Authority to handle the concerns of residents.

Video: 'Boris Island' airport option

By default player size is set to 420 x 315px. But you can resize player width and height once you get the player code using player params.
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there