Heathrow Airport today announced that it will be ending the current airspace trials on 12th November, instead of its original scheduled end date of January 26th 2015. Heathrow will also be postponing trials scheduled to commence later this month.
These trials being run in conjunction with NATS, are being driven by Government’s Future Airspace Strategy, which requires that all airports implement changes to modernise airspace by 2020.
Heathrow’s current easterly and westerly trials affect departing aircraft, and began on July 28th and August 25th respectively. The trials have been testing concepts and techniques necessary to inform how airspace can be better managed in the future. The routes are not indicative of future flight paths.
To date, the trials have been successful in collecting large amounts of data and have provided valuable insight into the design and feasibility of operating precision routes and how Heathrow could maximise noise respite for local residents with new airspace design. In light of residents’ feedback and after meetings with local authorities and Members of Parliament, Heathrow asked NATS to consider shortening the trials. It is the view of NATS and Heathrow that sufficient data will have been collected by 12 November to confirm the findings of these trial. Given that is the case, the trials will stop on that date.
Additional trials scheduled to start on 20 October are being postponed until Autumn 2015
Heathrow, like other airports throughout the country, is still required to provide the necessary data to inform the Civil Aviation Authority’s plans for future airspace modernisation and will be required to run other trials in the future. The reaction to the current trials has been much stronger than previous trials held earlier this year. Heathrow will therefore review how any trials are carried out in future and will ensure the details of future trials are fully publicised to residents in advance.
Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Sustainability and Environment said:
“These trials are crucial in helping us develop ways to manage our airspace more effectively and to reduce noise from Heathrow. We do, however, appreciate that some residents will have experienced a temporary increase in noise as a result of these trials. The feedback we have received during the trials is very important to this process. We are always looking to minimise the disturbance residents may experience as a result of flights around Heathrow, and so we are pleased to have been able to work with NATS to bring an early end to the trials.”
Any permanent changes to airspace require Government approval and will be subject to full public consultation.