Future operations introduction
Our approach has been informed by the feedback we have received from our earlier consultations and by engagement with stakeholders and our local communities.
In this section we explain our proposals for three aspects of runway operations that we consulted on as part of our Airport Expansion Consultation One in 2018 and our Airspace and Future Operations Consultation in January 2019. We explain them together as a package first before explaining them individually. They are:
- Runway alternation;
- Night flights; and
- Directional preference.
Feedback has confirmed that many residents affected by aircraft noise value respite.
Expansion provides new opportunities for runway alternation and opportunities to restrict night time operations to prioritise respite.
We have considered these proposals as a package because we believe there are genuine benefits to be gained by testing how different alternation and night flight options might combine to create the best outcomes for our communities. We must also ensure that our proposals allow us to deliver the number of additional flights that Government policy requires.
What is "respite"?
By respite, we mean predictable relief from aircraft noise for a period of time, for local communities. ‘Relief’ can be defined as a break from, or a reduction in, aircraft noise.
Feedback from previous consultations
In our Airspace and Future Operations Consultation in January 2019 we consulted on runway alternation, as a way of providing respite to areas further away from the airport that do not receive respite from runway alternation today.
There was a wide range of opinions on the best solution for respite, but the most consistent preference was for respite during the evenings, night-time and early mornings. We have used this feedback to help evaluate how we can provide respite across these periods.
Benefits of our proposal
We believe that our proposals give the right overall package of measures because when combined, they provide every community at least 7 hours’ respite between 22:00 and 07:00.
In addition, this will:
- share early morning, evening and night respite between communities;
- ensure that a community which experiences early morning arrivals before 06:00 is not subject to any operations after 14:00 / 15:00 hrs the previous day;
- ensure that where any community experiences night operations (in the ‘recovery period’ described further in section 5.2 of this document) it will not experience any operations the following day before 14:00 / 15:00 hrs;
- ensure that the number of communities experiencing early morning operations (pre 06:00 hrs) on any particular day is minimised by using just one runway;
- allow us to deliver the required numbers of additional flights under Government policy, stated in the Airports NPS as ‘at least 740,000 ATMs per year’;
- continue to allow onward connections to and from long-haul flights; and
- avoid a sudden surge of activity when operations start in the morning.
Current and proposed night flight timings
The diagram above summarises our proposals for the night time regime that allow us to deliver the benefits set out above. We set them out alongside the current night time regime for comparison. It should be noted that a diagram of this type cannot convey the benefits to each community of runway alternation which is described in the Runway Alternation section, however it provides a broad overview of the night time regime. The night quota period, QC limit and recovery period referred to in the diagram are described further in the Ban on scheduled night flights section and full details on these terms can be found in Section 4.10 of the Future Runway Operations document.
Our proposals therefore improve the current night time regime in the following way:
- whilst we currently operate a voluntary commitment not to schedule flights between 23:05 and 04:45, we propose to put in place a formal ban on scheduled flights between 23:00 and 05:30;
- we currently operate “recovery periods” where late running planes are allowed to use the runways up to 01:00 and sometimes later. With expansion, we propose to limit the recovery period so that it stops at 00:00.