Phase two of Heathrow efficiency trial announced

Posted: 16 May 2012 | Heathrow Airport | No comments yet

The Department of Transport has announced the second phase of a trial at Heathrow…

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The Department of Transport has announced the second phase of a trial at Heathrow which could reduce delays for passengers and cut the number of late-running flights. The second phase will begin on 1 July 2012 and run until the end of March 2013.

Heathrow operates at near full capacity, so any disruption to schedules can lead to delays which result in planes burning more fuel as they wait to land, late-running flights and inconvenience for passengers.

The first phase of the Operational Freedoms trial ran from 1 November 2011 until 29 February 2012. During this phase Heathrow explored ways of using its runways and airspace to recover more quickly following disruption at the airport, for example as a result of bad weather, whilst also measuring the impact of these changes on communities around Heathrow. Measures which were trialled included using both runways for arrivals or both runways for departures –under normal circumstances only one runway is used for arrivals with the other for departures.

The CAA today published its final report on this phase, alongside a report by BAA. Results from the first phase suggested improvements in punctuality, reduced emissions (from less fuel burn), and reductions in planes having to taxi across runways. Whilst there was an increase in complaints from local residents around noise, it was unclear whether these were as a direct result of the trial. The Government agrees with the CAA and BAA that more detailed analysis is required from the phase two trial in order to draw definite conclusions.

As well as additional freedoms, phase two will see dual take-offs or landings continue. New freedoms include the ability for flights to land without holding between 5.30am-6.00am in return for fewer flights between 4.30am-5am.

On the advice of the CAA the trial will run until March 2013, with the benefit of giving Heathrow greater resilience during the Olympic and Paralympic games period.

Tim Hardy, BAA’s Airside Director, said:

“This trial does not mean an increase in the number of flights operating in and out of Heathrow. However, with Heathrow operating at full capacity, we need to look at ways to strengthen resilience, which will bring benefits to the local community through fewer late-running flights, to passengers by providing a more punctual service, and to the environment by reducing aircraft stacking and emissions.”

The Civil Aviation Authority will oversee the tests and Cambridge University has been appointed to independently audit the trial and ensure its objectives are met.

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