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Home   Sheerness   News   Article

Southend Airport says plans for controlled airspace will not put Sheppey at risk

31 December 2013
by Lewis Dyson
Southend Airport

Southend Airport

Islanders have been given assurances that plans to reintroduce a controlled airspace will not affect their safety.

A consultation about the plans at London Southend Airport (LSA) ended on December 19.

If it goes ahead, it could be in place by August 2014 and it would mean any aircraft must communicate with Air Traffic Control if they fly within two-and-a-half miles and 2,000 ft above the Essex site.

The airport had controlled airspace until 1993, when it was removed following a reduction in scheduled services.

MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, Gordon Henderson wrote to the airport over fears it may lead to some pilots feeling they are forced to keep to uncontrolled airspace over Sheppey.

This may lead to an increased risk of mid-air collisions in between the controlled zones in so-called choke points.

A spokesman for LSA said pilots often wrongly assume they have to avoid controlled airspace but stressed there are no perceived choke points near Sheppey. Islanders have also raised concerns that the proposals might lead to an increase in commercial air traffic flying over their homes.

In response to this question, the spokesman said: “Commercial air traffic is now growing again at all airports and LSA anticipates gaining its share of that growth. However, the proposed development of controlled airspace is not a facilitator of growth.”

Mr Henderson also asked how non-radio and non-transponder equipped light aircraft, such as microlights, would be affected.

The spokesman replied: “There are very few non-radio aircraft that wish to use LSA but those that do are accommodated on a prior arrangement basis.”

He went on to say letters of agreement would be sought from smaller aerodromes to control when they would be permitted to fly within the controlled airspace.

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