Early End To Heathrow Operational Freedom Trials

Announcement from Aviation Minister will give respite to locals

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Aviation Minister Simon Burns today (Jan 24) announced that the controversial ‘operational freedoms’ trials at Heathrow will end a month early They were originally scheduled to finish at the end of March and will now end on 28 th February.

The trials are intended to give Heathrow Airport more flexibility to prevent delays building up. 

During the trials the Government has allowed Heathrow Airport to land planes out of alternation. Normally planes coming into land over West London switch runways at 3 o’clock in order to give people in the area a half day’s break from the noise. 

With operational freedoms Heathrow Airport has been able to land some planes on the ‘wrong’ runway.  The airport also has permission to permit planes take-off to leave their designated routes early in order to cut delays.  Operational freedoms did not, though, result in an overall increase in the number of planes using the airport.

The first trial occurred last winter.  The current trial began in July 2012.  If the Government wants to make the trials permanent it will be required to put out its plans for public consultation.

John Stewart, chair of HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight paths, “People were angry about losing their respite periods during the trials.  And we also got a lot of complaints from people saying they were getting aircraft for the first time when planes were allowed to leave their usual take-off routes early.”



January 24, 2013