November 2018

Luton Airport Expansion Doesn't Add Up


According to this HarpendenSky analysis, further expansion of London Luton Airport is not justified as more than enough demand for passenger growth is being provided by other airports in the south east of England.

Too Much Capacity
The Department for Transport [DfT] 2017 United Kingdom forecast is for an additional 20 million to 50 million passengers by 2025 [source DfT UK Aviation Forecast 2017].

However, the south east England airport CEOs alone are looking for planning permission and investment to generate an additional c87million passenger capacity at the 5 main airports, and this excludes any capacity growth at the other 24 UK airports which are included in the DfT forecast figures.

Airport Current Capacity New Investment Impact By 2025 Increase
Heathrow 78million 130million (third runway) 52million
Gatwick 45million 53million 8million
Stanstead 26million 43million 17million
Luton 16million 24million 8million
London City 2million 4million 2million
TOTAL 167million 254million 87million
Source: Airport Websites: Passenger Capacity Planning Information

Growth Already Covered
So when comparing the DfT forecast with ONLY the five south east England airport companies planned investment in capacity growth, there is ALREADY a significant 37million to 67million passenger OVER capacity by 2025.

The 2012 planning application made by London Luton Airport Operations Limited [LLAOL] for expansion of London Luton Airport mentioned that "LLAOL is seeking planning permission to instigate the growth of the Airport in order to enhance the experience for passengers and provide additional capacity in line with Department for Transport [DfT] projections for passenger growth". Well clearly, the other 4 South East airports have already more than satisfied the DfT growth demand.

Endorsed By Harpenden MP
This analysis is further confirmed by Bim Afolami MP For Harpenden & Hitchin who stated in July 2018 "Heathrow expansion will mean less of a need, from a national strategic perspective, for significant growth of regional airports such as Luton. I expect that Heathrow will crowd out investment in small airports in and around the South East".

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June 2018 CAA Survey Of Luton Airtraffic Routing Affecting Harpenden

The Civil Aviation Authority [CAA] has been conducting the Luton westerly departures "Runway 26 Post Implementation Review [PIR]" on the RNAV routing since Oct17 which includes accounting for the massive volume of noise complaints received & particularly the number of new complainants as that indicates the increasing scale of opposition to the excessive noise being generated. There are 3 possible CAA PIR outcomes: [a] RNAV has worked & no further action required [b] RNAV has not worked & remedial actions are necessary [c] RNAV has not worked & return to the prior distribution model where possible. We suggest [b] is the preferred option & need your vote in the CAA survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LutonBPKSIDs

If you don't understand the survey question because it uses technical jargon then make that point clear in your comments. In our view it is ridiculous that the CAA expects the public to be familiar with some of the term complexity. May we also recommend you encourage the Harpenden MP Bim Afolami to participate bim.afolami.mp@parliament.uk & lobby the CAA appropriately. We suggest you send your response by 22 June latest.

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March 2018

Luton Borough Council [LBC] & London Luton Airport Limited [LLAL] In Harpenden: 17 May
LBC & their subsidiary LLAL are in Harpenden to discuss Luton Airport Expansion with residents & tickets [free] are available at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/luton-airport-expansion-tickets-42032548484. In addition to protesting the airtraffic noise issue, Luton has been accorded the status of 4th most traffic congested city in UK [Source INRIX Research 2018]. The airport is a significant generator of road traffic so there is a double whammy of pollution from aircraft & vehicles. The LLAL New Century Park development adjacent to the airport is currently in the planning phase & will add c3,000 more cars to the local congestion. The reckless expansion is coming at a significant environmental cost & the pollution does not stay in Luton!. This should be one line of protest.

Heathrow Airport Expansion Consulting
Heathrow Airport is now consulting on their expansion plans & you have the opportunity to participate at www.heathrowconsultation.com until 28 March - we are suggesting clicking the category that will affect Harpenden residents which is "Airspace Principles Consultation" where there is a document that explains the process & options. This category governs the manner in which airtraffic from the expanded Heathrow will be managed. The main effect currently of Heathrow airtraffic is to prevent Luton departing aircraft from maximising their continuous climb rate so Luton departures lumber along at 3-4,000 feet causing disturbance along west, south & east of the town, therefore that should be the primary focus of your response in addition to any other points you want to make. On p20 of the document are the response options where the simplest is the online address.

Luton Airport Focus Group: HarpendenSky Excluded
Luton Airport has barred HarpendenSky from participating in a Focus Group that discusses & concludes the optimum approach to noise & pollution despite St Albans Quieter Skies [STAQS] & LADACAN being invited to participate. James Dontas of Luton Airport Operations says "We do not intend to expand the group any further" which effectively shuts the Harpenden voice. So we have engaged with Bim Afolami MP for Harpenden & Hitchin who has agreed to try & persuade them to change their minds. You may want to encourage Bim in this regard.

Will continue to keep you updated as the CAA Performance Impact Review of the RNAV flightpath should be available in the relatively near future. Thankyou for your support.

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October 2017: Progress On RNAV Airtraffic Noise Relief

CAA Performance Impact Review
We have sent the HarpendenSky submission on the failings of RNAV to the CAA CEO Andrew Haines as part of the Performance Impact Review [PIR] which will be complemented by similar reports from Bim Afolami MP and the St Albans Quieter Skies [STAQS] campaign. We expect the PIR to start in October 2017 and will request updates.

St Albans District Council Luton Airport Working Group [SADCLAWG]
We have had the first meeting of the new SADCLAWG which has agreed aims, structure and initial issues to resolve including the first priority CAA PIR submission which is underway now. The group will meet four times per annum to provide a consolidation point for the main local campaign groups and input to the LLACC NTSC meetings. It is expected the group will connect with other town councils in Hertfordshire.

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March 2017: Important Guidance On CAA Assessment

During the period Feb to September 2017 Luton Airport [LA] will be monitoring noise complaints ahead of a formal CAA review of the LA RNAV routing implementation for westerly departures, which will decide if it has been a success or not. According to the original LA RNAV Briefing "The overall intention is to agree a track which has the least noise impact for local communities, improve the tightness of track-keeping by the aircraft, and then consider deploying the new technology on other routes from the Airport". In the opinion of HarpendenSky it has been completely unsuccessful but this must be demonstrated to the CAA. These are the CAA outcome criteria from the review which is called a Post Implementation Review that will commence in October 2017. See CAA PIA Schedule: https://www.caa.co.uk/Commercial-industry/Airspace/Airspace-change/Reviews/Luton-runway-26-PIR/

[Option 1] The proposal is accepted as having met the original aim of the airspace change & the process ends.
[Option 2] The proposal has not met the original aim with remedial work being undertaken to rectify the situation.
[Option 3] The proposal has not met the original aim to the extent that the airspace reverts [where possible] to its original state.

It is important to realise that noise complaint data prior to Feb 2017 will not be used by the CAA PIA. So the message is that your noise complaints should now be formalised whenever you consider it justified to noise@ltn.aero stating the approx time, date of the flight. Please encourage your neighbours to do the same.

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January 2017: Luton Airtraffic Noise Campaign Update

This is the latest position based upon remediation actions to reduce the impact on Harpenden of Luton Airtraffic noise arising from westerly departures. It is the summary of meetings involving HarpendenSky.com during Oct/Nov with Luton Flight Operations who have agreed the content of this message. We will keep you updated.

[1] 10k Feet For All Flights Starting From Redbourn Turn
A new working party is being formed now with NATS to build an action plan by Jan 2017 that will work on the flightpath from the Redbourn turn that allows all aircraft to continue gaining height upto 10k feet. This will include phraseology agreed between ATC & pilots that ensures a consistent reaction to clearance upto 10k rather than the sporadic or more cautious approach as currently.

[2] RNAV Fix
To enable all Luton departing aircraft to follow the RNAV routing around the Redbourn turn which should be implemented Feb 2017. This will then trigger data collection for the CAA Post Implementation Review [PIR] which will then start around Sept 2017. The CAA aim is to establish if RNAV met the original Luton Airport Operations objective.

[3] RNP Implementation
RNP is a more precise navigation system. The potential RNP centreline would be between 200M & 800M south of the current RNAV centreline at various points along the flightpath. The existing centreline is just over 1kM south of Harpenden so this would put the new centreline between 1.2kM and 1.8kM south of Harpenden [these designs are still in draft & nothing has been confirmed at present]. As RNP is more accurate than RNAV, then this would ensure a better adherence to the centreline, meaning that weather effects should not push aircraft north and closer to Harpenden.

[4] LAMP [London Airspace Modification Program] Next Phase
Luton Airport Operations are discussing with NATS & other airports the possibility of moving arrival stacks away from this region & at an increased height earlier than currently planned.

[5] Traffic Volume
There has been no noticeable downturn in Luton Airport passenger/flight volume post-Brexit.

For Luton Airport easterly departures there is a plan to introduce an RNAV/RNP style model which will go to consultation but no precise timetable as yet.

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October 2016: Luton Westerly Departure Changes Planned

On 6Oct there was a stakeholder meeting hosted by Luton Airport [LA] to confirm changes to be implemented that are planned to reduce the impact of airtraffic noise resulting from the recent introduction of the RNAV routing. This is a summary of the main points all of which relate primarily to increasing the height of Luton airtraffic on the westerly departures route which has generated the most complaints.

[1] Increased Height: In the short term LA are assessing the viability with NATS of implementing a procedural change that will remove a conflict with Heathrow airtraffic enabling Luton westerly departures to move from 4000 to 5000 feet.

[2] Increased Height: As part of [1] LA are looking to increase aircraft "rate of climb" so that when airspace is available they should be at a much higher altitude in the Harpenden, Sandridge, St Albans area.

[3] Reduced Overflights: LA are also looking to introduce the latest navigation technology that will enable the flightpath width to be reduced to 50M compared to 500M currently which will further assist in reducing community overflights.

We really need your support in continuing to complain to noise@ltn.aero when flights cause disturbance [flight approx time & date] & to engage your local councillors & MP to accelerate these LA initiatives.

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June 2016: Rerouting Unsatisfactory For Harpenden Residents

The new RNAV routing for Luton Airport westerly departures has not been successful with a 45% increase in noise complaints for the first quarter following the implementation [Source: Luton Airport Quarterly Monitoring Report]. HarpendenSky has been in contact with Luton Airport flight operations, the National Air Transport Service [NATS] and the Department of Transport to progress the issue.

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August 2015: RNAV Routing Implemented

We have received this Luton Airport confirmation of the route change.

"We've finally got some good news on our RNAV airspace application. The CAA have given it informal approval which means we can now make the relevant submissions to introduce the change in procedure, which should commence from 20th August 2015".

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February 2015: Latest News On Route Change Progress

The Operations Director of Luton Airport provided an update on the RNAV1 trial outcome to HarpendenSky.com & the next steps to achieve a permanent change to westerly departures flying across west, central and south Harpenden - these were the main points:

- Westerly Luton Airport departure route [Brookmans Park] applies to 70% of airtraffic leaving the airport

- The new routing that would apply once CAA approval is granted will use a GPS rather than beacon system

- The RNAV1 trial in 2014 was successful & there were 1,400 participants in the questionnaire of which 90% were in favour

- An additional RNAV1 benefit of lower fuel burn is a significant bonus to environmental & fuel cost considerations

- The CAA is due to report on the application for the route change to a far more concentrated flightpath which avoids Harpenden by end March

- If the outcome is positive, then the changes can be implemented within 2 months

- Once this change is completed, Luton has confirmed that further routes will be tackled using the same principles.
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