Memorandum by National Air Traffic Services
THE AIR TRANSPORT INDUSTRY
1.1 The Committee has announced its intention
to undertake a short inquiry into the impact of the 11 September
terrorist attacks on the air transport industry. This memorandum
is offered as a contribution to the inquiry and highlights the
main effects of the downturn in air traffic on NATS' business
outlook and explains the steps we are taking to address those
2. THE PUBLIC
2.1 There has recently been a good deal
of press speculation, as well as interest in the House, about
the implications of the downturn for the NATS Public Private Partnership
(PPP). The PPP was established on 26 July and it was only a matter
of weeks before the company was facing the most serious challenge
in its history.
2.2 We strongly believe that the rationale
for establishing NATS as a PPP remains sound, with a clear alignment
between the public interest and the interests of the airline community
in maintaining a safe, effective and efficient air traffic control
service. NATS remains committed to delivering to its customers
and stakeholders the enhancements which the PPP is designed to
achieveour objective is to deliver the following benefits,
while at the same time maintaining our status as a world leader
in the safe operation of air traffic control systems:
the introduction of increasingly
improvements in the procurement and
delivery of new technology;
the introduction of private sector
business skills and experience in the areas of procurement, planning
and delivery of major capital investment projects;
bringing into operation Europe's
largest new control centre at Swanwick on 27 January 2002;
a sustainable, long term investment
programme for the introduction of advanced systems; and
a leading position for the United
Kingdom as we move towards EU integration under the Commission's
"Single European Sky" initiative.
2.3 The establishment of the PPP has given
NATS the commercial freedom and structural incentives required
to improve the efficiency of the business and, under normal market
conditions, the PPP framework provides NATS with the resilience
and commercial freedom to respond to the fluctuations of the economic
cycle. However, the scale of the present economic downturn in
the air transport industry is unprecedented. The present situation
was not predicted when the PPP was implemented, and when decisions
were taken on the financial structure of the Company based on
forecast economic conditions. The company is addressing the impact
in the same way as any other commercial business by adjusting
our costs and financial commitments to take account of the new
3. IMPACT OF
3.1 It seems likely that the effects of
11 September on the industry worldwide will be unprecedented in
their severity. For example, the International Labour Organization
(ILO) issued a statement on 30 October noting that "the events
of 11 September were unlike any other shock experienced by the
industry to date. They have had a unique, unprecedented, devastating
and immediate impact on all segments of the industry with unpredictable
economic and social consequences. It is expected to take years
for the industry to reach the same levels as before 11 September
2001. The air transport industry employs some four million persons
worldwide, of which more than 200,000 have lost their jobs or
will in the immediate future."
3.2 At the time of writing, the economic
outlook remains very uncertain and it is still not possible to
predict with confidence the future level of demand for NATS' services.
The initial response from the industry to the events of 11 September
has been a significant reduction in capacity, with reductions
in frequencies and aircraft sizes, and some shedding of routes.
With the introduction of Winter schedules, it appears that scheduled
services are being reduced by up to 20 per cent on the North Atlantic
and by up to 10 per cent on some European routes. In contrast,
the market for services provided by the low cost carriers on European
and domestic routes has remained strong.
3.3 The outlook for traffic volume in the
medium term depends on a number of factors which are difficult
to quantify. The most crucial factor is the willingness of people
to resume flying, particularly in the US and on North Atlantic
routes. Second, with the recent collapse of Sabena, Swissair and
Canada 3000, and with other airlines known to be in financial
difficulties, we expect to see further industry consolidation.
The recent press reports about a possible link between British
Airways and American Airlines provide evidence of this likely
trend, but the rate at which consolidation will take place in
the industry remains uncertain. A further important area of uncertainty
is that the US airline industry is currently being supported by
the US Government, but it is unclear how long this support will
last or what will happen if and when it is withdrawn.
3.4 North Atlantic traffic accounts for
14 per cent of NATS traffic but produces 44 per cent of NATS income.
In consequence, given the marked reduction in this traffic, the
impact on NATS of the events of 11 September has been particularly
severe. The weight and distance formula used to calculate NATS
en route charges means that some types of flight (typically North
Atlantic arrivals, departures and overflights by heavy aircraft)
produce a higher yield than others (eg short haul flights by low
cost carriers). It is against this background that NATS is now
facing a potentially significant shortfall against the revenue
predictions made at the time the PPP transaction was completed
at the end of July.
3.5 In summary, there is continuing uncertainty
about the financial consequences for the Company, and about the
overall scale and duration of the downturn and the longer term
recovery profile. Current expectations are that it will be 18
months or more before we see any return to the levels of growth
experienced in recent years.
4.1 Many of our customers are having to
make drastic cost cuts to remain in business. Like any well-managed
business facing this situation, NATS too is acting to reduce costs
and conserve cash. Clear principles have been established for
this process and they have been in place throughout the Business
Planning process which is currently in progress. The Company will
not over-react to the situation, and it will not make any changes
that could compromise either the safety of operations or the integrity
of NATS systems. Staff issues will be managed properly, maintaining
the commitment to the current Staff Surplus Agreement.
4.2 The main strands of the emerging business
plan are as follows:
a Long Term Investment Plan that
provides capacity ahead of demand yet maintains flexibility to
adjust project timings to match traffic growth.
a competitive sourcing approach for
Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) based systems.
targeted cost savings in engineering/R&D,
through staff reductions arising from efficiency measures, reductions
in requirements and collocation, as well as through optimisation
of maintenance contracts.
a Human Resources and Change Plan
to drive up management capability, introduce new performance management
processes and improve employee relations.
business efficiency measures to reduce
overhead and support costs through organisational review, improved
business systems, a shared services approach for Human Resources,
Procurement and Facilities Management, and a new accommodation
validating the safety implications
of each aspect of the business plan.
4.3 With the completion of the Business
Planning activity, there should be a clear view on how much money
can be saved while ensuring that we continue to provide a safe
and effective service. The Plan has been reviewed by the NATS
Board, which now comprises both Government and Airline Group directors.
The next step in the process is that the Plan will be the subject
of a period of consultation with customers and other stakeholders
including the CAA. There will be a series of staff open meetings
from early December and the first meeting of the Stakeholders
Council is due to take place on 24 January when the Plan will
be a major item on the agenda for that meeting. The Plan will
receive its final sign off at the end of March.
4.4 Despite the Company's best efforts to
generate internal efficiency improvements, it remains possible
that these savings will not be sufficient to bridge the gap between
income and expenditure. In that case, like any other company in
similar circumstances, there will be discussions with our regulator,
shareholders and lenders to close the gap. We believe it is important
to be able to demonstrate that we have made our best effort to
solve the problem, and that on that basis the banks, our Government
and the Airline Group shareholders and the CAA will have confidence
in providing any necessary support.
4.5 The Company remains committed to meeting
the regulatory requirement to reduce en-route charges by RPI3
per cent in 2002, unlike our European counterparts many of whom
are proposing to increase prices by between 10 per cent and 25
per cent. We will be examining whether subsequent price reductions
of RPI4 per cent, RPI5 per cent and RPI5
per cent in the succeeding three years remain appropriate in the
5.1 NATS, as an integral part of the aviation
industry, is exposed to the events of 11 September in the same
way as its airline customers. It has a heavy exposure to North
Atlantic traffic, which is particularly affected by the present
downturn and may be further affected as US Government subsidies
to its airline industry reduce.
5.2 NATS is taking action to contain its
costs to reflect the traffic downturn in so far as it is practical
to do so and consistent with the Company's commitment to maintaining
safety and standards. We have established a close dialogue with
our shareholders, lenders and the regulator with a view to ensuring
that the PPP structure is robust to the current financial situation
and continues to deliver the benefits for which it was established.
National Air Traffic Services Ltd
28 November 2001
Memorandum by the Air
Travel Insolvency Protection Advisory Committee (AT 32)
THE EFFECTS ON THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY OF THE
EVENTS OF 11 SEPTEMBER
I understand that the Committee will shortly
be conducting an investigation into the impact on the aviation
industry of the September terrorist attacks in the United States.
I am writing to you in my capacity as independent Chairman of
the Air Travel Insolvency Protection Advisory Committee ("ATIPAC").
As Members of the Select Committee will be aware, ATIPAC is a
Committee set up by the Secretary of State for Transport, Local
Government and the Regions to advise on the financial protection
arrangements for air travellers and customers of air travel organisers.
Its membership includes the principal industry bodies, consumer
and independent representatives and nominees from the Civil Aviation
Authority and the Air Travel Trust.
ATIPAC's particular concern is that the effects
of the attack have already had a significant effect on consumer
confidence and on the demand for leisure air travel; as a result,
we believe it is realistic to assume that there will be an increase
in the number of tour operators that fail over the coming months,
possibly including companies of a significant size.
This will not of itself necessarily cause a
problem to the public because of the high level of protection
given to them by the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL) system.
However, the ATOL system is itself dependent on the Air Travel
Trust Fund, which provides the back-up for the individual bonds
that tour operators provide as a condition of being granted licences.
The Fund is currently in deficit, and cannot be replenished by
a levy on holidays without primary legislation to establish the
necessary powers. This has been promised by successive DTLR Ministers
since the collapse of ILG in 1991, but Parliamentary time has
never been made available and there are no current plans to introduce
the necessary legislation. In the meanwhile the Trust has continued
to pay claimants using borrowings guaranteed by the Secretary
of State: the debt currently amounts to just under £9 million,
and interest amounted to over £0.5 million in the last financial
ATIPAC has repeatedly made clear its view that
borrowings are not a satisfactory long-term solution, and that
deficit financing is not a proper basis for a major public protection
system. A bill to establish levy powers would be uncontroversial;
indeed, the industry is in general concerned that the longer the
delay, the greater will be the burden on the industry and the
travelling customer when the debt has to be repaid.
ATIPAC believes that there is no reasonable
excuse for the long delay that has occurred. We would like to
suggest that Committee Members press DTLR Ministers and officials
on why they have taken no action; whether they are aware of the
damaging effect of delay and uncertainty; and how they will respond
if there are heavy calls on the Trust Fund's borrowing facilities
over the next year.
I am enclosing for the Committee's information
copies of ATIPAC's latest report, in which it drew the attention
of the Secretary of State to the problem in very clear terms.
31 October 2001
Memorandum by Airport
Coordination Limited (AT 33)
Airport Coordination Limited (ACL) is the appointed
Coordinator of the UK's four fully coordinated (Heathrow, Gatwick,
Stansted, and Manchester) and two coordinated (Birmingham and
Glasgow) airports. It also acts as a schedule facilitator and
data collection agent for other UK airports.
ACL was asked to provide the Transport Sub-Committee
with data on the slots requested and allocated to airlines for
the Summer 2002 season, compared with Summer 2001. This is in
support of the Sub-Committee's inquiries into the impact of the
events of 11 September.
The data requested is provided in the table
Airline schedules are coordinated on a seasonal
basissummer and winter. The seasons coincide with the daylight-savings-time
clock changes in late March and October. The coordination process
requires airlines to submit their planned schedules for the forthcoming
summer season in mid-October the previous year (ie, five and a
half months prior to the start of the season).
At early stages in the scheduling process airline
requests tend to overstate true demand and the number of slots
allocated normally decrease by the start of the season as airlines
finalise their flying programmes. Also, at capacity constrained
airports like Heathrow and Gatwick, the number of slots allocated
is more a function of capacity availability than airline demand
(which far exceeds capacity).
Year-on-year comparisons of slot requests and
allocations may provide a general indication of demand. There
are specific factors that serve to distort the data for Gatwick
and Stansted, however, which are explained below:
Gatwick is showing a significant increase in
slot requests for Summer 2002 (+12 per cent). The number of slots
allocated is only up by 1.8 per cent due to the capacity constraints
at the airport.
This high level of demand arises from a combination
of incumbent carriers that have claimed their "grandfather
rights" to slots and other carriers, principally low-cost
carriers, that see an opportunity for expansion at the airport.
The increase in slot requests thus overstates true demand to the
extent that incumbent airlines may yet cancel some slots in excess
of their requirements following the events of 11 September. ACL
is not in a position to quantify this effect, however.
There is generally great uncertainty surrounding
the future of Gatwick, particularly as British Airways reviews
its future strategy.
The number of slots requested and allocated
for Summer 2002 is down significantly (11 per cent and 9 per cent
respectively) compared with Summer 2001. This appears to be due
to a reduction in overbidding for slots rather than a reduction
in true demand.
Although the number of slots allocated at this
stage in the process for Summer 2001 was 136,000, it had reduced
to 107,000 by the end of the season. There is thus still a prospect
of continued growth at Stansted despite the apparent reduction
A significant change in Stansted traffic since
11 September has been the withdrawal of services by some European
carriers (eg Lufthansa) while the low-cost carrier traffic remains
SUMMARY OF SLOTS REQUESTED AND ALLOCATED
AT MAJOR UK AIRPORTS
| Airport||Slots requested Summer 2001
|% Change||Slots allocated Summer 2001
|Summer 2002||% Change
|Major UK airport total||1,154,826
Data as at December 2000 and December 2001 for the Summer 2001 and 2002 seasons respectively.
For calendar reasons, the Summer 2001 season extended over a 31 week period, compared with 30 weeks for Summer 2002. Summer 2001 data are adjusted to an equivalent 30 week period for comparison purposes.
Source: Airport Coordination Ltd.
Memorandum by Timothy Nathan Esq (AT
INVESTIGATION INTO AVIATION
I write as an Air Transport pilot no longer employed in the
industry, but now owner and director of a successful and expanding
software house operating a twin piston engined light aircraft.
All my flying is on business (except for a couple of hours
a year training and validating.) Many of my trips around the UK
and near continent would simply not be possible without light
aircraft, and the way in which the company is flourishing, even
in the present harsher climate, is to a great extent down to my
ability to respond quickly and flexibly to customers all over
the country and Europe.
Although I write as an individual, I represent the views
of many business aircraft operators, with many of whom I am in
I have a number of important and separate submissions to
make, in no particular order:
1. ROUTE CHARGES
The present scheme for Route Charges is unfair and disproportionate
to the private operator of a light twin of a little more than
1.1 Charges are raised for IFR movements outside controlled
airspace, regardless of any services offered or used. Many IFR
movements are only IFR by dint of being operated at night, and
at night many Lower Airspace Radar Services (LARS) are unavailable.
Furthermore, LARS services are being made severely less available,
with Kent Radar, Thames Radar, Dunsfold and Luton all being withdrawn
recently in the London area alone, and for compulsory charges
to be raised for a reduced or non-existent service is extortionate.
With NATS now denationalised there must also be a question of
the legality of their raising charges for services which either
are not required by the user or are not provided when they are
1.2 There is also a procedure between NATS and Eurocontrol
which, in normal business, would be considered very sharp practice,
possibly even illegal. Accounts are raised for every flight of
an aircraft over two Tonnes whether charges are due or not (ie
even if the flight is VFR.) While there are mechanisms to inform
the Routes Charges Office that such flights were conducted under
VFR, it is the responsibility of the operator to inform NATS that
a flight is exempt, rather than the responsibility of NATS to
determine that the charges are due. This results in either (i)
a large administrative burden on the operator to ensure that they
are not wrongly charged, (ii) a burdensome procedure to claim
a refund via Eurocontrol or, I suspect rather commonly, (iii)
accounts which have been raised fraudulently being paid because
the operator is sufficiently confused by the immensely complicated
Eurocontrol invoice (the invoice is typically 12 pages long with
the detail on page 7.) This underhand practice on NATS' and Eurocontrol's
part should be stopped and replaced with a system whereby NATS
must have evidence that a flight was operated under IFR before
charges are raised.
1.3 There is an arbitrary weight cut-off for charges
whereby an aircraft of 1.99 Tonnes receives air traffic services
for free, but an aircraft of 2.01 Tonnes must pay a large charge,
amounting to an extra 35 per cent of direct operating costs. This
is particularly unfair on a light aircraft, which barely exceeds
the cut-off and is occupying no more resource than another, which
is under the arbitrary limit. Charges are made on a formula based
on the square root of weight, unduly biasing the charges against
light aircraft. The charges should be considerably more proportionate.
1.4 Charges are based on weight, but do not take into
account fuel usage. Duty on Avgas is such that it costs approximately
three times as much as Jet A1, with the difference almost all
being payable in tax. Under these circumstances it is wrong that
aircraft should be taxed equally for airspace usage.
1.5 JAA is proposing that Route Charges for aircraft
in the two to 5.7 Tonne range should be simplified by making an
annual charge, rather than by the present (uneconomic) system
of levying a charge on each flight. It would be grossly unfair
if a privately owned light aircraft operating, typically, one
or two route sectors a week should be charged at the same rate
as a commercial aircraft operating two or three sectors a day.
It would be doubly unfair if piston aircraft were charged as much
as jet aircraft for the reasons given in 1.4 above. There is a
safety argument for IFR charges to be amortised over the year,
as the IFR/VFR decision would not be contaminated by cost considerations.
However this charge should be fair and proportionate. JAA is likely
to offer member states the option or raising no charge for private
category piston engined aircraft up to 5.7 Tonnes and I hold strongly
that the UK should adopt this sensible solution.
2.1 The provision of Air Traffic Services Outside Controlled
Airspace (ATSOCAS) has long been a contentious issue between the
providers and the consumers.
2.2 There are principally four ways in which such services
are provided, being (i) Military Lower Airspace Radar Service
(LARS), (ii) Civilian LARS, (iii) Units offering services on an
ad hoc basis because they have the capacity and (iv) Flight information.
2.3 Both military and civilian LARS are intended to use
spare capacity from units who have to employ controllers anyway,
but cannot use them full time. The service is partly funded by
NATS, but does rely heavily on the provider being willing and
able to allow controllers and equipment to be spared when available.
2.4 In large part, the justification for a unit to provide
a LARS service is that it helps provide a safer environment for
the aircraft which form the primary responsibility of the unit.
A prime example being Farnborough which has to launch and recover
jet traffic through one of the busiest areas of uncontrolled airspace
in the world, the corridor between Heathrow and Gatwick zones,
in which there are four busy GA airfields plus a great deal of
2.5 LARS is only provided when controller workload permits
and there is no obligation to provide a service, but service is
2.6 Examples of units which are not officially part of
the LARS network but which may be prevailed upon to provide some
level of service are Luton, Thames (ie London City) and Birmingham.
These services are only provided when controller workload permits
and, it seems, when the controller feels like it. There is no
obligation to provide a service. In my experience a service is
less likely to be offered than more, but I have no statistics.
2.7 The other ATSOCAS offered by NATS is Flight Information
Services. Although there is widespread misunderstanding among
student and private pilots about this service, it is a non-radar
service best suited to providing information about danger areas
and weather and very little use in terms of providing separation
2.8 ATSOCAS are not only helpful to recreational light
aircraft. They are vital to air ambulance and police operations,
public transport operations outside controlled airspace (particularly
in North East England), business aircraft (and even politicians
electioneering, as William Hague found to his near cost during
the last election!) These services are not optional or frivolous.
2.9 There are a number of shortcomings of the present
2.9.1 The number of units offering LARS is decaying at
an alarming rate, particularly in the London area, where they
are most needed owing to traffic density. The recent withdrawals
from the system in this area are mentioned in 1.1 above. Whereas
two units have been added to the system recently (Bournemouth
and Southend), and while this is welcome, they are not located
in critical areas and London is a far more demanding area.
2.9.2 LARS units tend to be closed when they are most
needed, at night and at weekends.
2.9.3 LARS units are soon saturated by trying to assist
too many aircraft. It is, of course, at exactly these times when
their services are most vital. Because LARS is only ever intended
to take up spare capacity, LARS units reasonably argue that it
would be uneconomic to employ extra staff and equipment to meet
the extra demand.
2.9.4 Key to all the other problems is that LARS is funded
by NATS which receives almost no income from the aircraft for
whom it is primarily intended (ie light aircraft flying under
VFR). Accordingly, and not surprisingly, they prefer to spend
their budget on their paying customers. This issue bears directly
on paragraph 1.1 above. They accept little or no responsibility
for ATSOCAS, because they are a business, yet they still charge
heavier aircraft as if they were a governmental body. They are
trying to deny the existence of the cake and eat it!
2.10 Many private pilots consider that NATS does have
a responsibility to provide ATSOCAS because it is only because
NATS demands so much sky for controlled airspace that traffic
outside is forced into narrow, shallow, overcrowded corridors
(between Heathrow and Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton, Luton and Stansted
and Birmingham and East Midlands in particular.)
2.11 This discrepancy between the needs of the General
Aviation and the business goals of NATS is something that needs
to be tackled at government level and should in the first instance
be looked at by the Select Committee. There are several possible
2.11.1 Raise a charge on all VFR and IFR flights and
hypothecate this charge for the provision of effective ATSOCAS.
This would be enormously unpopular among pilots and businesses
working in the industry, and will be touted as a "death knell"
for GA. It would also be uneconomically expensive to collect.
2.11.2 Use some of the considerable amount of tax paid
on piston aviation fuel to provide the service.
2.11.3 Raise the taxes mentioned in 2.11.2 and hypothecate
the revenue. This would be fairer and easier to administrate than
2.11.1 but would remain unpopular.
2.11.4 Legislate that NATS must provide effective ATSOCAS
as the social cost of being granted the right to control national
airspace, thereby excluding much General Aviation from an asset
which might be considered "public property." This would
clearly be the solution of choice to GA.
3. NOISE REDUCTION
3.1 The greatest threat to aviation in general and general
aviation in particular is the objection to aircraft operation
on noise grounds. Airfields are closed or severely curtailed because
of noise complaints, and members of the public living near airfields
are significantly inconvenienced by aircraft noise.
3.2 There are two readily available technologies which
can reduce considerably the noise produced by piston-engined light
aircraft, being exhaust silencers and propellers with more, shorter
3.3 Many UK operators would fit these devices to their
aircraft if it could be done for a reasonable amount of money.
However, the cost of fitting only relates in small measure to
engineering costs. The principal cost lies in meeting the CAA's
regulatory burden. Each installation invalidates the Certificate
of Airworthiness of the aircraft and it has to be re-certified
by the CAA. This re-certification is hugely time-consuming
3.4 It would be in the interests of both the industry
and the general public if this cost could be eliminated. This
could be done by the CAA accepting in principal that the addition
of silencer(s) and/or quiet propellor(s) does not invalidate the
Certificate of Airworthiness, or, if this is unacceptable, that
the Certificate of Airworthiness be revalidated in a normal triennial
Certificate of Airworthiness renewal test flight.
3.5 States like France and Germany make government subsidies
to overcome this problem, and in the US, manufacturers rely on
the pure number of pilots and aircraft to cover their costs.
3.6 It is particularly irksome to those of us who wish
to be neighbour friendly that the CAA is not even prepared to
accept certification from other JAA states (notably Germany.)
As will be pointed out below there are many ways in which the
CAA follows JAA slavishly, it would be worth asking why in this
particular regard it chooses to ignore an obvious benefit of membership.
3.7 This is an area in which the CAA is being unnecessarily
intransigent and could be quickly addressed by the Select Committee
to everyone's benefit.
3.8 Furthermore, owners could be encouraged to spend
money on noise reduction by a significant reduction in
fuel duty for quieter aircraft. One or two pence a litre would
not suffice, but ten or twenty pence would make the decision to
get quieter much easier to take!
4. REGULATORY BURDEN
4.1 Rarely does a year pass without some new piece of
electronic equipment being mandated for light aircraft. Recently
this has included 760 channel radios, BRNAV, FM immunity and autopilot,
and shortly we expect 8.33 kHz radios and S-mode transponders
to be made compulsory.
4.2 Although the cost of these items can be rapidly amortised
in commercial aircraft, they are a huge burden on private aircraft.
4.3 I would particularly propose that if S-mode becomes
a requirement for transport aircraft, many mode alpha codes would
be released for use by private aircraft, thus minimising the need
for them to change as well.
4.4 It seems that the CAA does not carry out proper studies
of the real regulatory impact or cost/benefit analysis of new
requirements before introducing them: Mode S is a case in point.
They seem to hide behind the need to implement rulings of JAA,
which is neither elected nor accountable and does not take sufficient
notice of the UK environment.
5. GLOBAL POSITIONING
5.1 We are now in the rather topsy-turvy situation that
we are obliged to carry GPS equipment to meet the Basic Area Navigation
(BRNAV) requirements, but are effectively forbidden to use this
equipment as a prime source of navigation.
5.2 There are many places in the UK whose only instrument
approaches depend on demonstrably inaccurate, interference ridden,
unreliable and difficult to interpret old technology (NBD/ADF)
but we are forbidden to use the hugely more accurate, reliable
and well presented GPS system to approach these airfields.
5.3 Anyone who has flown the NDB procedure at night to
a coastal airfield such as Shoreham can testify to the fact that
the approach path can be "bent" by twenty degrees or
more, whereas GPS provides an accurate, reliable and safe let
down superimposed on an easily read moving map.
5.4 Other airfields which do not have any radio aids
should also be enabled to publish GPS approach procedures.
5.5 There is a perception (possibly inaccurate) that
CAA conservatism is standing in the way of airfields proposing
GPS approaches. There is an experimental approach being tested
at Cranfield but other airfield managements certainly do not feel
encouraged by the CAA to invest the money required to draft and
test GPS procedures.
5.6 The CAA should be asked actively to encourage other
airfields to produce proposals for GPS approaches.
6. PROVISION OF
6.1 Manchester is now a complete desert with respect
to General Aviation facilities. Unfortunately this often means
that I simply leave Manchester out of my itineraries, both to
my cost and Manchester's
6.2 Manchester Airport is hugely expensive for use by
a light aircraft. The total charge is well in excess of £200
for an overnight stop. It is in Manchester's interest to have
business aircraft visiting and this will only come about if these
costs are reduced.
6.3 Manchester Barton, the grass runway "club"
airfield near Manchester, despite its claims to be a "unique
recreation and business asset of regional importance" does
not permit its runways to be used by business aircraft.
It does allow helicopter access, which is of some business benefit,
but excludes multi-engined aircraft, which account for the vast
majority of business aeroplanes. If Barton is to be a business
asset this can only be achieved by either draining or hardening
the runway and, arguably, slightly lengthening it. It is unlikely
that Lancashire Aero Club could raise the funds to do this, especially
if they continue to ban business aeroplanes, nor is it likely
that they would want to while they suffer from planning blight.
6.4 Woodford, a British Aerospace facility reasonably
close to the city centre, is a near-perfect facility, yet it is
closed to General Aviation for spurious security reasons. There
is no reason why a GA facility at Woodford should not have independent
access from the road, and create no security risk whatsoever,
but BAe have chosen simply to ban visiting aircraft.
6.5 Stretton, a disused airfield very close to the M6/M56
interchange appears to be ideally located for all types of GA,
yet in a position to keep them clear of Manchester's airspace.
It is apparently used at the moment for car trials. This should
be investigated as a candidate to be re-opened.
6.6 The complete absence of GA provision for Manchester
should be compared to the provision around London (Farnborough,
Blackbushe, White Waltham, Denham, Wycombe, Elstree, Stapleford,
Rochester, Biggin Hill, Redhill, Fairoaks, Battersea) and Birmingham
(Birmingham International, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Wellesbourne
6.7 Any claim that Manchester makes to being the Second
City is undermined by having poorer business aviation facilities
than London and Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Newcastle and
Liverpool and even Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter!
6.8 Government, together with the local authorities in
the Greater Manchester areas, could enhance the image of Manchester
as a forward looking area, and help reverse its current image
of being rather focused on the past, by either helping a private
operator open up one of the existing facilities or for the local
authorities to do so themselves.
All the points made in this paper have the common thread
of affecting the ability and efficiency of businesses running
business aircraft. The benefit to successful businesses of being
able to move its executives around quickly and efficiently should
be self-evident. (Members of the Committee only need to look at
the use of aircraft by their own leaders, whether in Government
or Opposition, to recognise the importance of being able to move
people close to where they need to go, at the time they need to
be there, efficiently and smoothly.) This paper has drawn the
Committee's attention to a number of important points where it
can make a real difference.
Timothy Nathan JP
18 December 2001