Northolt to Los Angeles

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  MartynSinclair 29 Sep 2012
at 15:55
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  • Anonymous

    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    I was fortunate to be using Northolt for the start of my trip to Los Angeles. Whilst this airport has been subject to many discussions regarding viability as “T6”, I believe this is the first report on the forum about how it operates.

    I was taking 9 passengers to Los Angeles. We had 2 stops, one in Europe to collect some passengers and the second on the US east coast to clear US immigration. The second stop allowed us to avoid LAX and use one of the more local Los Angeles airports.

    The budget for this flight was south of $100,000 all in and this was easily kept.

    As I live close to Northolt, I was also given the task of catering manager and used several of the north London bakeries and deli’s to bring boxes full of goodies and freshly baked bread for the journey. Far nicer than Gate Gourmet or any of the otehr caterers. One thing very noticeable about Northolt is that if you fancy some last minute shopping, you need to exit the airport to find the nearest shop. The airport does not survive from rents received from retailers!

    As Northolt is still an active RAF base, security is tight, having to report to a guard house before being issued with passes to drive through another controlled barrier, up to the terminal.

    We were met at the terminal doors and were immediately taken through security and out onto the waiting van, no direct boarding at Northolt yet. Luggage appeared at the aircraft behind us. Gate house to aircraft took 12 minutes.

    There were several aircraft movements during my 15 minute visit to the Northolt, it’s a big complex and the ramp looked busy, but there was still plenty of space.

    Could Northolt be used for a scheduled commercial traffic?

    Yes it could, if there was direct access from the A40 and suitable terminal buildings built as well as car parking. However, it seems that the RAF feel non-military traffic is a pain and something they would prefer to be without. The 5500 runways could support some additional commuter traffic and the boost to the local economy would be immense.

    There would be some congestion, manoeuvring airplanes into Northolt around Heathrow, but that’s something that I am sure ATC can figure out.

    I still don’t understand why Heathrow allows GA traffic, Northolt provides an excellent alternative and on a good day, passengers should be able to transfer between Heathrow and Northolt in under 35 minutes. Travel times into central London would be around 40 minutes and access to the major motorways would be good.

    USA may be far bigger than our Island, but at least they actively encourage GA. The choice of airports within the Los Angeles area sized sufficiently to accept a long range business jet was in part, the encouragement needed for this flight.

    Some may say Northolt is a non-starter whilst others feel it is a temporary bandage solution that will eventually come unstuck.

    The fact that the airport exists, has a 5500 runway and is so close to an overworked airport with no available slots, should show that the airport has a value to the economy, even in the short term.

    A great airport for the busienss traveller who is interested spending less time in airports and more time being productive.


    AnthonyDunn
    Participant

    Despite my years in the MoD, I never had reason to visit the place but see the occasional movements (mainly IN) to Northolt through the window.

    Yes, there is considerable scope for a lot more GA traffic and it is altogether unfortunate that the RAF/MODUK considers this a nuisance. Perhaps if the next round of spending cuts were to start impacting on future F35 orders, they might start adopting a far more constructive and welcoming attitude. In the meantime, this smacks of horses, water and troughs…


    VintageKrug
    Participant

    While I have long advocated excluding General Aviation from LHR, having recently discussed this with someone in the know the key issue is that there must be an government controlled airfield within easy reach of London – for Government and Royal Family use in times of need.

    The possibility for a commercial flight – perhaps influenced by an aggressor nation – to block the runway is a danger which should not be underestimated.

    What are the alternatives to Northolt? I’ve used Biggin Hill and drove there in around an hour.


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    The”goivernment” have shown their ability to control all airfields in the way they shut down UK airspace during the ash crisis. A blocked runway, should be an insignificant problem in comparison!

    As for an alternative, RAF Benson, 40 minutes away, could still be used, for VVIP’s.

    EGUB.


    Binman62
    Participant

    Martyn’….100,000 for 9 or even 10 to LA is rather pricey! Granted flex F is about the same price. But restricted j or even flex j would be significantly less.

    More importantly is it comfortable, flat beds etc. food sounded good but what about IFE!


    VintageKrug
    Participant

    Does GA at LHR really cause a problem?

    Or are the smaller jets just slotted into what otherwise would be vacant slots?


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    “100,000 for 9 or even 10 to LA is rather pricey” – its all down to value. The same discussion is relevant to the business traveller choosing business over economy or first over business.

    For the passengers, comfort in the longhaul jets in terms of space can be compared to around 70% of the upper deck on the -400 (depending on the floor plan design and aircraft). Seats and divans all turn into flat beds single or doubles.

    With a full load it can be a squash but it is very rare that these aircraft cross the atlantic fully loaded.

    Games consoles and DVD selections make full use of the multi tv screens and sound systems. A full galley service is available.

    Where there is a big space issue is for the crew. The cabin attendant usually ends up sitting in the forward toilet or in the jump seat and the pilots do not have much of an area for stretching their legs

    With ultra longhaul for business jets comes the added “collision” of the need for crew rest space verses available space for the owner. Owners do not want to give up their valuable space and this is where compromises and consideration needs to be weighed up, especially when carrying a “heavy” pilot.

    The size of the jet (apart from the heavy commercial jets) makes no difference at Heathrow, as approach speeds are all similar.

    Looking into the skies of LA, the business and commercial jets along with the friendly airports ALL seem to work together keeping the skies safe.

    So to all of you doom and gloomers that think Northolt cant expand due to closeness to Heathrow, LAX has probably 6 airports within a 20 – 30 mile radius.


    VintageKrug
    Participant

    Quite right. It’s all down to value!

    Though my few experiences on PJs were fun, I prefer scheduled for the space and relative quietness of the cabin.

    I have more missed approaches at LAX than any other airport I fly to.


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    But remember VintageKrug, the owner can create as much space as he / she wants on a longhaul business jet and can also decide who to share that space with – a bit like taking a chauffered roller up and down the motorway, instead of a bus!


    VintageKrug
    Participant

    I’ve done a GV, BBJ and something smaller (no idea, but had six seats for four of us plus a spare on the toilet!).

    The BBJ was a-mazing, obviously, but the little one was noisy. The GV was impressive on entering, but after a while palled.


    Binman62
    Participant

    I take fully the issue of value but for me, and I must confess to have never experienced private flights, it sounds like I would value the space, non stop operation and.relative security of scheduled operations.
    I suspect for the USA immigration clearance is probably improved massively.

    As for LHR ops of GA it is now almost entirely on a standby basis albeit with some notice. The exception being vvip such as the us president and middle east potentates with their own vulgar widebody jets.


    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    “The BBJ was a-mazing” – agreed for both the 737 & 777 versions

    “but the little one was noisy” – probably

    “The GV was impressive on entering, but after a while palled” – you must have flown the GV straight after the BBJ and judged purely on space. Even the most nervous of fliers have nothing but praise for the entire Gulfstream family , or at least G 4 upwards.

    There are still quite a few GA ops at Heathrow, which should be moved to Northolt.

    I wish all you Northolt doubters would actually try the airport out and see exactly how good and funtional it actually is – perhaps your views would then change.

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