What's happening at our airfields, aerodromes & airports
(Not) Their Finest Hour
The All-party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG) has pressed the CAA to speed up introduction of GPS approaches at UK aerodromes after the Authority admitted that the four-year delay in approving them ‘has not been our finest hour’.
In a meeting in Parliament with CAA Director of Airspace Policy Mark Swan and Head of Airspace, ATM and Aerodromes Jon Round, AAPG Chair Grant Shapps, MP, expressed serious concern that the UK is lagging a long way behind countries such as France, Germany and the USA when it comes to embracing technology which could improve flight safety.
Mark Swan and Jon Round acknowledged that the Authority has been too slow in processing applications, explaining that the issue had proven far more complex than it first thought, and admitted that GPS approaches “had not been their top priority”. The Directors promised the Parliamentary Group that they would now “get a grip” on the issue. Mark Swan added: “We accept that (we have) been too slow to process applications for GNSS approaches at aerodromes. This is going to speed up, and decisions will be made in the coming months one way or the other. We too want to see greater use of technology in the general aviation sector, and we urge sponsors to provide as much information as possible in their applications, to allay legitimate safety concerns.”
Commenting after the meeting, Grant Shapps said: “It’s four years since ministers asked the CAA to expand GPS technology to enhance flight safety at smaller aerodromes. That request was made to the Chief Executive of the CAA, and it beggars belief that so little has happened in the intervening time. Whilst I acknowledge that there are complexities in introducing approaches in otherwise nonregulated airspace, it is now apparent that the regulator simply hasn’t put the time or effort into delivering GPS approaches. As a direct consequence we now lag years behind more proactive countries on this issue.
“If the CAA is not able to respond to the needs of GA, even after asked to do so by ministers, then Parliament must investigate whether a better approval process can be implemented. There are now 156 parliamentarians who take a keen interest in what the CAA is doing and the APPG may need to undertake an inquiry if we don’t start to see real progress, quickly.
“In many ways, the GA Unit of the CAA has led the world in recent years, but this seems to be a blind spot and it cannot be right that numerous airfields have shelled out tens-of-thousands of pounds to try to navigate a GPS application process that the CAA now acknowledges was not fit for purpose. We absolutely accept that this is a complex area and that applicant airfields need to provide further information on the safety case, but delay does not in any way enhance flight safety either.”
Air BP renews Blackbushe fuel contract
Air BP has renewed its fuel supply contract at Blackbushe Airport. Avgas 100LL is available from the airport’s fuel storage facility, and
both Avgas and Jet A-1 are supplied from mobile bowsers. Fuel is available from 0800 local, seven days a week, and since late last year rotors-running refuelling for helicopters is available by prior arrangement. Customers can use their Air BP Sterling Cards to purchase fuel, in addition to ordering and paying via the Rocketroute Marketplace platform.
Blackbushe’s Manager Chris Gazzard said: “Maintaining a robust and safe fuelling operation is critical for any aerodrome, and I am pleased that this will continue at Blackbushe in collaboration with Air BP. Their service and equipment quality has been second-to-none. We were supported in our previous contract, benefitting from the much-needed investment in the fuelling facilities. We can continue to deliver an excellent quality product.”
Blackbushe currently handles more than 30,000 movements each year comprising a mix of training, GA and business aviation aircraft.
(Blackbushe announced a price increase for 100LL from 01 July to £1.46 + VAT per litre − Ed.)
Farnborough first ‘carbon neutral’ bizav airport
TAG Farnborough Airport has become the world’s first business aviation airport to be awarded carbon neutral status under the Airport Carbon Accreditation scheme run by Airports Council International Europe. Over the past decade the Hampshire airport has reduced those carbon emissions over which it has direct control by 42% and over the past five years has invested more than £1 million in energy efficiency projects. Projects have included upgrading to LED lighting at the airport that at the control tower alone saved 15% of total electricity consumption in the first two months. ‘Sustainable travel’ across the airport site has also helped minimise liquid fuel use and a network of twenty chargers has enabled the use of electric vehicles ranging from small ground handling trucks to a Tesla Model S (and an even more environmentally friendly fleet of bicycles is also available for ‘footprint free’ travel between buildings). Future carbon emissions-reducing projects include replacing the airfield’s old tungsten ground lighting with an LED system.
These maps, illustrating progress made on introduction of GPS approaches in Europe and the USA, show that the UK has fallen well behind in introducing this safety-enhancing technology
Chris Gazzard, Blackbushe Airport Manager (left) and Russell Halley, Air BP’S UK General Aviation Sales Manager
TAG Farnborough staff with their carbon neutral accreditation certificate