Bristol Airport’s ACC Chairman's Blog January 2022
Our meeting opened with a presentation by Mark Swan, the Head of the Airspace Change Organising Group (ACOG). The structure of our airspace has changed little over the last seventy years and is designed around the navigation systems in use at the end of the war. It was adequate for the number of flights at that time but not now and navigation systems have changed beyond recognition. The airspace structure is being re-designed by the major airfields and the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) with inputs from the general aviation world of private flying, leisure flying and flying training and from the military. The new airspace will also enable commercial and private drone flying and even space flights will be catered for. It is a huge undertaking and ACOG’s role is the co-ordination of all the inputs to the project and ensuring that all inputs are working to the same plan and will be in place at the right time. Routing of aircraft will be more direct and aircraft holding in the ‘stack’ waiting to land will be a thing of the past. This can only be good for the environment with less emissions and less noise for people living near airports. Bristol Airport’s airspace is linked to that of Cardiff and Exeter airports and members of their consultative committees joined us for Mark Swan’s presentation. Now that we are through the worst of the pandemic work has restarted on the airspace modernisation programme. We are only at the design stage and re-structuring of the airspace above us should begin in 2025. However, there will be public consultation on the plans at different points: details will be published and information will be available from our committee, the airport and your councillors.
Omicron variant which was detected in late November has left Bristol Airport facing another period of uncertainty like many other businesses. Passenger numbers had started to perform well in September- November but with new travel restrictions within the UK and European Governments meant many families were not able to unite over Christmas.
The Airport CEO, Dave Lees, was delighted and very proud that Bristol Airport’s operations were independently accredited as being carbon neutral in December. This is a major step forward to Bristol Airport achieving net zero operations by 2030. Furthermore, at Bristol Airport we have seen a world first ultra-low emissions aircraft turnaround trial in partnership with easyJet and others, initially showing a 97% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to using standard equipment.
Net zero flight remains ultimate aim and Bristol Airport have led in the founding of South West Hydrogen Ecosystem Partnership (SWHEP) a grouping of companies and organisations that aims to develop the production, transport, storage and use of hydrogen and other new fuels in the region. We look forward to hearing more about this project at future meetings.
Having reviewed payments made in 2021 we’ve calculated that the Local Community Fund made grants totalling £160,000 last year. In total 59 individual grants were made ranging from £600 to £10,000, providing play areas, sports equipment and supporting nature conservation in the parishes surrounding the airport. The Noise Insulation Scheme which is part of the fund made grants to 39 individual residents new window installation totalling over £89,000.
Myself and our secretary, Alicia attended the virtual UKACCs conference in November 2021 and a report was produced. Conference expressed regret at the demise of the Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) and this concern was passed to the Department for Transport (DfT). ICCAN only existed for two years but produced some excellent data and ideas about the problems of aviation noise. The DfT indicated that the work and the responsibilities of ICCAN would be distributed between DfT, the CAA and, possibly, ACCs.
Our next meeting will be in April when we will, along with all other matters, be reviewing our constitution and committee membership prior to our AGM in July.