LHR Capacity – change type of flight’s access?

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This topic contains 24 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  SimonS1 8 Sep 2012
at 16:37

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  • Anonymous


    A V interesting letter to The Times today on the debate about a 3rd runway or Thames newy.

    Wondered what BT readers thought, and is it viable?

    ” …Analyse the type of flights arriving into Heathrow by Airline passenger, freaight, Business and private jets. If all business and private jets were diverted to Farnborough or Northolt, Stansted took the freight. that would remove the huge numvber of trucks from the M25. It would also create a hub at Stansted with nearer links to the industrial heartland and seaports, where most of the freight arriving goes.”

    I wonder what capacity, if any of you know, is actually freight, or business / private jets that could be directed to nearby other Airports, and what % that could free up capacity at LHR?
    Is it a short term strategy that could give just a little more that should be considered?

    What are the BT forums readers thoughts?

    (Unable to paste sorry, as not access to Times on line, but on page 27 Letters to The Editor).


    Most of the freight going into Heathrow is in the bellies of passenger jets, and thus difficult to divert.


    There are several ways scarce capacity can be managed.

    1. No biz/VIP jets or freighters (are there that many?)

    2. Use bigger equipment (same as the railway in SE forced to run longer trains not more trains). There shouldn’t be any sub 100 passenger flights at Heathrow.

    3. Cut frequency of domestic flights – do we really need so many flights to Manchester and Leeds.

    4. Mixed use of runways (already under review??).

    I am sure there are others. The question is does anyone have the balls to do anything?


    This has been my position for some years, and has been oft stated in the many other threads on this very subject.

    Problem – for freight at least – is that it is there for the same reason people are there – connecting traffic coming off freighters and into the bellies of other aircraft heading to far flung places. Though BA does run 2, maybe 3 747-8Fs now if that last one has been delivered, from STN so not everything goes via LHR.

    There’s a whole cargo terminal (Heathrow really already had 6 terminals) on the south of the facility, which isn’t small.

    It’s not an alternative to additional capacity at LHR, but the above changes would buy time and make a more strategic move to a new site in a decade or so possible, without the need for the short Third Runway as an interim, (and very costly, wasteful and destructive) measure.

    There are reasons why Mixed Mode is challenging at LHR, and also that what we all thought was “Mixed Mode trials” recently was in fact something subtly different, but then I got bored by the minutiae of it all.

    There is something called A-CDM (Airport Collaborative Decision Making) which has very recently been introduced at LHR which is all about reducing taxiing times and hitting slots by sharing real time flight arrival and departure info – others will explain it better.

    I believe that while no where near a permanent solution, many small changes as suggested above could deliver the 1-2% per annum growth necessary to sustain operations and deliver capacity where there apparently is none before a more permanent solution is delivered.


    Ii’ve arrived more than a few times on the northern runway when its being used as the departure runway. I always assumed the captain had chanced his arm and asked permission rather than the airport being in mixed mode ops,

    The large freighters tend to use slots at the end of or start of the day and as such don’t really affect the congestion issue I would assume.

    Would have to agree that the biz & vip flights can be moved to Northolt— is maybe a UKBA issue?


    It seems reading today, that Ministers in The C arm of the Government, are shifting their pro 3rd runway support to enabling it.
    Certainly an increase in capacity in one way or another.

    But long term strategies need to be established for sure, but short and medium term in Industry terms, far more difficult to achieve. I think the original points made would offer something. and as VK also states, some capacity increase.
    Though the A380 Aircraft help an Airline increase an existing slot and route, those for eg to China that are increasing from AMS & Paris, well taken up, and enticers for Business between the two countries or cities. It appears KLM / AF have really got stuck into the China market, where LHR simply cannot offer anything more.

    Surely some change at LHR is Urgent, needed, and a short term immediate benefit?


    The congestion at LHR is not just about landing and take off slots but also parking of aircraft. As a rule freighters do impact on the capacity of the airfield both by taking up landing and take off slots and parking positions.

    Changing the size of aircraft or restricting the type of aircraft is not possible on a grand scale simply because the gate/stand sizes will restrict what is possible. (EG) T5A stands are short-haul and bar 1 or 2 cannot be used by anything bigger than short-haul aircraft. The same applies at T1 though that might be taken care of by LHR East.

    Mixed mode is indeed being used and may become the norm however the benefits of this are now questionable. Mixed mode has been discussed for years and much of the data is based on pre A380 aircraft. These aircraft require greater separation to avoid wake turbulence and as the number being used increases, then the number of movements more generally will be affected. Consequently whilst mixed mode will help it will not solve the problem longer term.

    Removing all private and VIP services may have some benefit especially when it is the US President who’s fleet of aircraft cause mayhem. However VIP and other private movements tend to be on a space available basis and cannot be guaranteed.

    The bottom line is that no matter what you do at LHR, even if it were a 3rd runway, ( which will simply bring further congestion and reduce landing rates due to the need to cross a live runway) you will not solve the basic issue, which is that growth is impossible using this site or it’s surrounds.

    The only sensible approach is a new purpose built airport and an integrated transport system connecting high speed rail with the airport. 

    There is no need for this to take longer than 10 years to build from today. It just needs the will and some leadership.


    @ Binman62 – 03/09/2012 21:26 GMT



    I can not understand why the politicians/decision makers in UK do not understand regarding the need of a larger airport near London whereas most sensible travelers understand the need. A new airport at so called Boris island or elsewhere is immediate need if London wants to maintain the tag of world capital.
    Mixed mode operation or other experiential trial has its negative, it could lead to a safety issue. I have noticed at Heathrow that a clear 2 minutes gap is not maintained between take off all the time as is the guideline to avoid jet stream problem. Instead a large and a small aircraft is allowed to take off alternatively, so that smaller aircraft use shorter runway length and takeoff with a slightly different flight path to avoid jet stream from the larger flight. However I believe there shall be clear 2 minute gap between take off to avoid any human error.


    Inquisitive, in my experiance they tend to bunch up aircraft of the same type, reducing seperation times…..only when they change the aircraft size from heavy back to 319 size does the seperation increase…..there has been many a time that we have started our 319 takeoff roll as soon as the the previous 319/20 aircraft has left the runway….we always waited at least 2 minutes if the aircraft was a heavy !



    At 2 mins the take off rate would be just 30 per hour. LHR already regularly operates a landing rate of 45 plus. Where do your propose all the planes go and how do you then fit in the schedule at such a punitive take offf rate.t


    The 2 minute gap between take off was recommended after the fatal incident near New York. And I believe most airport follow this. There is no issue with landing gap, as long as the aircraft could turn to a taxiway after slowing down, the next aircraft could land.
    While waiting for take off, I have clocked a number of times ( whenever I have a clear view of runway from window), gap between take off and take off run of next aircraft is less than 2 minuites at Heathrow. My observation is also that in such cases the take off point is different due alternate use of smaller and larger aircraft. May be a ATC could clarify this beter?


    I am sorry but the statement that the landing gap is not an issue is simply wrong. Wake turbulance affects landing aircraft far more than departing flights as they are final approach for several miles.

    When departing from LHR you will often see aircraft turning left or right as well as going stright on away from the airfield. The direction of travel being dependent upon destination and the route, which in turn dictates the standard departure routing. ATC take this into account when planning takeoffs and this disapates but does not eliminate the issues of wake turbulance.

    If they did not and had a 2 min interval LHR would grind to a halt within 2 hours.


    I am not expert on this, however there are pilot contributors, they could provide a clear understanding.
    My main observation is that due to lack of runways, Heathrow is on limit and how safe it is?
    My understanding of wake turbulence is that while take off all engines are at full thrust and leaving highest turbulence behind. Also during take off all aircraft climb almost similar altitude, although busy airport direct one left and one right as Binman indicated.
    During landing, the engine power is much less, hence turbulence must be less?

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