Here are the answers to a selection of frequently asked questions that have been asked during the early stages of the consultation. We will continue to add to them throughout the period of the consultation.
What are the current restrictions on the MOSUN flightpath?
The MOSUN procedure is not available to jet operations between 10:00 and 17:00 on weekdays. It is available between 17:00 and 10:00 on the following day and all weekend. There are no restrictions to its use by turboprop aircraft.
How many flights currently use the MOSUN flightpath?
On average, around 8 flights per day when R33 is in use.
How many flights might use the MOSUN flightpath in the future?
Our forecasts show that an average of 35 flights a day could use the MOSUN procedure by 2023.
What would be the potential reduction in the number of flights using the southbound flightpath if the MOSUN flightpath was used more?
An estimated 7,500 flights which currently use the southbound flightpath might instead be expected to use MOSUN annually by 2023. However, this is only a forecast, based on the destinations which airlines currently fly to using the MOSUN flightpath; the Airport cannot dictate to airlines which of the available flightpaths they must use.
Option 1 flies over open fields. Why have you chosen Option 2 which flies directly over Curdworth?
The decision was based on the numbers of people affected by noise, which is measured not at Curdworth but much closer to the Airport, where the noise impact is greater. Although it appears that Option 1 affects fewer people when you look at the map, the number of people in the noise contours used to measure noise impact is actually greater for Option 2. This is because the noise contour shifts slightly to the north east in those areas closer to the Airport. The difference is small but it is there.
There are plans for 6,000 new properties beneath the TRENT flightpath; have you taken this into account?
No. The Airport can only base its population counts and data analysis on the situation as it is now.
Will these changes mean we see more flights?
For some people living directly beneath the flightpaths, it is expected that RNAV technology will concentrate more flights overhead. Others may see fewer flights directly overhead as they become more concentrated on the centreline of the flightpath. However, as more people choose to fly from Birmingham, it is worth noting that the Airport will get busier regardless of whether these changes take place or not.
Do these changes mean more flights at night?
Birmingham is a 24 hour airport and has never banned night flights. However, we operate one of the strictest night flying policies of any UK airport, with restrictions on the numbers and types of aircraft that are allowed to operate during our night flying period, which runs from 23:30 to 06:00. The Night Flying Policy, which is reviewed every three years under our legal agreement with Solihull MBC, will not change as a result of the proposed flightpath changes.
It’s unfair to concentrate flights. Why should those already affected by noise be subject to even more flights? Shouldn’t aircraft noise be shared among communities?
Concentration is an inevitable result of the introduction of the new technology, so to an extent is unavoidable (though we anticipate there will still be some dispersion, albeit less than there is currently). One of the Airport’s objectives was to minimise the number of new people affected by any changes. This is in line the Government’s overall policy objective to limit the number of people affected by aircraft noise.
Does the Airport pay for double glazing in affected homes?
The Airport does operate a Sound Insulation Scheme which funds insulation in properties in the 63dB(A) noise contour. This extends north under the flightpath, but only to the vicinity of Lea Village in Birmingham. Contours are reviewed every two years and if they get larger, then more properties will become eligible.
What about increased air pollution?
Air pollution is only considered to be a potential local health issue from the ground up to an altitude of 1,000 feet. In the early stages of an aircraft’s departure from the Airport, the proposed flightpaths will precisely replicate the existing ones. The point at which any change occurs is above 1000 feet attitude. We monitor our Air Quality impact 365 days a year using an Air Quality Monitoring Station located on the airfield, where levels of pollution might be expected to be at their greatest, and the results consistently show that we operates well within the limits set by government for the main pollutants.
I have noticed many more flights recently. Have these changes already been put in place?
No. Nor have there been any trials or unannounced changes. We understand residents may well have seen increased activity, but this may be due to the fact that we have seen very high usage of Runway 33 in recent months owing to weather patterns and the fact that as more people choose to fly, the Airport is busier than it has ever been
I knew nothing about the consultation event in my area. Why didn’t the Airport advertise them or write to everyone affected?
We put Public Notices in the local press and the newspaper published articles giving the dates. We also put the dates on our web site, on our Facebook and Twitter accounts and where possible on the social media pages of local community groups. We also asked local councillors and representatives to help make people aware through their own networks. To write to every property beneath the existing flightpaths would not have been practical, given the very large numbers involved.
Won’t these changes go through whatever I say? Isn’t the consultation just a ‘box-ticking exercise’?
No. We have a proven track-record of listening to the views of local communities. The Airspace Change Process for Runway 15 is a good example, where we have worked with local communities to try to find solutions to their concerns. If you have an opinion, it is vital you share it through the response form. Every response we receive will be sent, unedited, to the CAA as part of our formal submission.