The decision to approve the airport's application to extend operating hours was made by Bromley Council at Full Council meeting on 25 March (see Minutes - when available) - see News Shopper articles:
13 March and 27 March 2015
Link to Bromley Times 26 February 2015 - see page 16
BRAAD advertisement in 19 February Bromley Times
Below are articles in the Bromley Times editions of 19 and 26 February, including an advertisement placed by BRAAD plus their 'Open Letter to Bromley Council'
Included is a link to Written evidence from Kent County Council. The following extracts are of particular interest:
" - Smaller airports have the potential to deliver economic growth and job creation. KCC is disappointed at the closure of Manston Airport,
but has welcomed the plans of its new owners to create a £1billion redevelopment of the 800 acre site into a mixed use scheme
helping to create more than 4,000 new jobs over a 20 year period. Lydd (London Ashford) Airport is planning to extend its runway and
invest in new terminal capacity. London Biggin Hill Airport provides an important role serving London with specialist business aviation
facilities and this adds high skilled jobs into the local economy. Smaller airports are part of the UK’s airport network and are strategic
aviation infrastructure assets at a regional or sub-regional level.
- Smaller airports provide a niche role for point to point flights, general and business aviation. Smaller airports, by providing this role,
help remove this added demand pressure at larger congested airports in the South East. The underused capacity at Kent's smaller
airports can serve the London market. Rationalisation of the UK's airport network is not desirable in the longer term because it will
result in increased demand on larger capacity constrained airports and lead to further congestion and reduced aviation connectivity."
"Kent County Council recommends to the Committee that action is taken by the Government to:
- Recognise the strategic importance of the UK’s network of smaller airports; and designate smaller airports as either regional or sub-
regional aviation infrastructure assets which will support the growth of UK aviation in the longer term.
- Implement reduced APD and financial support through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund to support smaller airports' commercial
viability. As well as improving aviation connectivity, successful regional airports will help to create new jobs and economic growth."
" London Biggin Hill Airport in the London Borough of Bromley provides specialist aviation for predominately the business market. The airport is a home to commercial aircraft and also a service centre for business and general aviation aircraft; making it an engineering and technology centre in its own right. The Airport generates modern, high tech and well paid jobs. The airport allows business passengers to quickly access London as it is just eleven miles from Canary Wharf. Each aircraft landing at the airport provides economic benefits to south-east London and jobs for people across the region, including in West Kent. Biggin Hill is designated a Strategic Outer London Development Centre in The London Plan. The airport estimates that there are approximately 1,000 jobs on or around the airport and it has the potential to create up to 2,300 jobs in the next 15 years through careful and managed growth."
1. There is a statement on one of the web sites that BHAL has bought the land so as to extend the 21/03 runway at the NNE corner of the
airport. I know you say that there will be no development beyond the current boundary, but (if the land purchase is correct) would that
still be true?
Yes – we purchased the land last year because the owner was trying to sell it to a developer. We don’t want any inappropriate development around the airport which might cause more complaints. We have leased the land to a local farmer. It will remain as farmland and we do not need to expand beyond our current boundaries now or in the future. The land will remain as farmland. As an aside, it would be impossible to use it for extending the runway as I believe that BRAAD seek to claim because the land drops away to such a degree that this would be impossible.
2. What increase in level is expected compared to now, by enforcing a requirement to fly no lower than 2000ft over villages/towns – e.g.
Orpington - bearing in mind the Rule 5 Regulations for alighting clear of a congested area/safely etc currently in force
As you know the regulations that we will introduce apply only to aircraft using Biggin Hill Airport. Such aircraft are exempt the 1,500 ft rule because they are taking off or landing at a licensed aerodrome. We believe that in practice, it will cause light aircraft using Biggin Hill to avoid you altogether since they will want to be lower than 1,500 ft if landing at or departing from Biggin Hill.
3. What is the estimate for overall noise reduction by aircraft on a 3 ½ degree Glide Path rather than 3 degrees?
I cannot give a specific answer to this as it will vary from aircraft type to aircraft type but, based on my experience in the Hawker 125 800 and the Learjet 45, it will typically result in a power reduction of circa 5% N1 once established on approach. Our current ILS is actually set at 2.86 degrees.
4. What reduction is expected by asking for minimum use of reverse thrust - again, bearing in mind that most operators want minimum
fuel used now, subject to safety?
Business jet aircraft are slightly different to airliners in that the brake wear associated with idle reverse costs more than the fuel used by reverse thrust. Consequently, unless instructed otherwise, most crew will apply a good dose of reverse thrust on landing. There is operationally no need – the brakes will do the job fine – but they do so because it is the cheapest mode of operation. By changing their behaviour, we should be able to reduce noise.
5. On page 64 of the Lease, para (c) - do you interpret the term 'ground running of aircraft' as including taxiing?
No – ground running is a maintenance exercise only. Clearly aircraft that have just landed must taxi in and shut down safely and without being unduly rushed.
6. Where is the list of Noise Certified Aircraft published?
The list can be found attached and forms an attachment to the Lease. It has not been reviewed since 1998, but the vast majority of the aircraft listed will be struck off if the Council approves our operating hours as we have agreed to ban anything that is not fully Chapter 3 compliant. List of approved aircraft
7. How is the requirement to cross the upwind end of the runway not above 500ft going to impinge on the (if approved) straight to 4000ft
for IFR traffic going to DET?
This requirement applies to VFR circuit traffic. It is designed to ensure that aircraft joining the circuit cross wind did not get into conflict with a departing aircraft. Now we separate by lateral distance.
8. You spoke of a change from 1nm before turning having been changed to 2nm – I cannot find this in the current AIP entry. What is its
It has not yet made it through the Airac cycle as it was submitted with our last AIP amendment. It should be in the AIP next month and so should begin to make a difference after that.
9. The latest Minutes of the Consultative Committee that I could find are July last year. In those comments, the VFR traffic increased with
the ‘Business’ element decreasing. Has this changed since then and when will the Minutes of the last meeting of 2014 and those for
this year be promulgated?
I will check with the secretary but last October’s minutes should be on the website by now- I believe that at the January meeting some amendments were called for by some members. Business aviation is certainly declining because we are losing market to other aerodromes (primarily RAF Northolt) due to our restrictive operating hours. Light aviation showed a small increase last year due to an unusually fine summer, but nevertheless we forecast an ongoing reduction in numbers (see the attached graph which shows movement numbers from 1994 to current year).
10. If the hours are increased do you anticipate an increase in maintenance companies home based?
Yes – in fact our entire business plan is based on aircraft maintenance companies and aircraft being based at Biggin Hill. Each aircraft based here creates on average 8 new jobs and takes off on average once every 14 days and then goes off around the world before returning in due course. On return it needs, cleaning, maintain and servicing, restocking, hangarage, flight planning for the next trip, catering, accounting and other services. Typically each based aircraft will spend around $5 million annually on based services.
Having read various missives from BRAAD (Bromley Residents Against Airport Development), today I met with the Managing Director of Biggin Hill Airport (BHA), Will Curtis. I have not been to Biggin Hill Airport for many years - probably about 40! I was pleasantly surprised by its quiet, relaxed environment. During the 2 hours I spent there, only a couple of planes landed and I barely heard them, even that close.
Will Curtis lives in Biggin Hill so, as a resident, he is keen to avoid spoiling his own home environment with noise pollution and disturbance in anti-social hours. He explained that the public consultation produced 15,330 responses, of which 79% supported the airport proposals. overall. 83% supported the new opening hours. The majority of respondents were Biggin Hill residents (1,328), of which 78% supported the new opening hours (18% with reservations). The full consultation report can be downloaded here.
The current Bromley Council consultation survey consists of only one question - basically, do you support the proposals, yes or no! If no, you can explain your reasons.
Will Curtis spent over an hour and a half clarifying the proposals and responding to technical questions posed by Bob Trott, Chair of Green Street Green Village Society and a retired senior air traffic controller, whose knowledge was invaluable in understanding the pros and cons of BHA proposals. As Mr Curtis elucidated, Luton Airport is open 24 hours and has 35% of the business market in which BHA operates. BHA currently holds 11% and is aiming to gain up to 18% by 2030. Assessments of air traffic at Luton indicates a maximum of 2 flights an hour during early morning hours and 3 in late evening hours. BHA are unlikely to have more than 2 an hour by 2030.
Aircraft departing Biggin currently climb to 2,400ft initially then, with a handover to Thames Radar, to 3,000ft and finally, on handover from Thames Radar to London Control, on through 4,000ft and up to their cruising altitude, typically somewhere above 40,000 ft and well above commercial airliners. The current procedure, whilst perfectly workable, does keep aircraft lower for longer than is necessary. It may take as long as 4 minutes to reach 4,000ft, as the pilot must await each instruction to climb a stage further.
BHA are endeavouring to introduce noise abatement conditions to reduce noise levels by 50%, by the following measures:
- In future Biggin Air Traffic Control (ATC) will be able to give initial climb clearance (given at the same time as take-off clearance) direct
to 4,000ft which will reduce noise and reduce pilot workload too. A typical business jet can reach from ground level to 4,000ft in well
under a minute, so the new procedure should get aircraft up 3 or 4 times quicker than is currently the case. Above approximately 3,000 ft
a business jet is not audible to humans at ground level.
- Enforcing procedures to penalise aircraft which do not follow correct flight paths: the first infringement carries a warning, the second a
£250 fine and, if the fine is not paid, or a third infringement occurs, the aircraft is banned from BHA.
- Increasing the angle of entry in ILS (Instrument Landing System), so it reduces noise on the ground.
- Instructing aircraft not to fly over residential areas under 2,000ft.
- After descending through 3,000ft, aircraft over Petts Wood and Chislehurst are currently radar vectored down to 1,800ft to intercept the
ILS approach to runway 21. They will now be vectored in a band above 2,200ft. This should help reduce noise on the ground.
In addition, the airport is applying to the regulatory authorities for a Radio Mandatory Zone (RMZ) in the area around the approach paths (which includes Green Street Green) and this will require all aircraft, whether using Biggin or not, to establish radio contact with ATC before entering the zone. This will allow Biggin ATC to request pilots crossing the area to remain at or above 2,000ft where possible, for noise abatement.
Below is the link to the extensive consultation carried out by an independent consultation company in November 2014:
Biggin Hill Future Consultation Report
Will Curtis has also circulated the attached letter to local residents' associations, responding to some of the claims made by BRAAD which are incorrect: Letter from Will Curtis 13 February 2015
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community and Secretary of Green Street Green Village Society