Who has heard of FASIIG or the Future Airspace Strategy Industry Implementation Group? This Group sets out a vision to modernise UK airspace and use technology to make it fit for the 21st century. It claims to ensure the UK remains connected to Europe and the rest of the world by simplifying and harmonising the way airspace and air traffic control is used through the Single European Sky project.
Its members are:
- Airlines UK – a group of airlines and associated organisations
- The Airport Operators Association
- The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) – the industry association representing the majority of airlines operating to the UK
- The Civil Aviation Authority
- The Department of Transport
- The Ministry of Defence
- Sustainable Aviation – “a long-term strategy which sets out the collective approach of UK aviation to tackling the challenge of ensuring a sustainable future for the industry. Launched in 2005, it is a world first bringing together major UK airlines, airports, manufacturers and air navigation service providers”.
FASIIG made a submission to the Transport Committee on airspace modernisation and management. The Inquiry concluded by being closed down due to the last General Election in 2017. With the Inquiry into the National Policy Statement now just concluded, it is interesting to see what was said by FASIIG in the airspace management inquiry and ponder on what might have been meant by what was said.
Extracts from Future Airspace Strategy Industry Implementation Group (FASIIG) April 2017 submission to the Transport Select Committee on airspace management and modernisation inquiry.
|What FASIIG said in evidence||What they meant?|
|This (government) leadership and supporting policy has not been as evident for aviation and airspace as it is with other sectors such as rail.
|When is the aviation industry going to get what it wants and why isn’t it getting it faster?|
|Experience of recent airspace changes and research trials at lower altitudes is that the lack of overriding Government support has been a serious issue with, in some cases, individual MPs leading the charge to block changes. What the UK needs is clear leadership from Government and senior civil servants on this crucial issue within an unambiguous policy framework which is stable and supports and enables the change that is necessary to modernise the airspace.
|When is the aviation industry going to get what it wants and why isn’t it getting it faster? (see above)
Why are these upstart democratically elected MPs being allowed to challenge us?
|There is also a risk that introduction of new policy leads to calls for reassessment and potentially reversion of recent changes and Government needs to be clear that this cannot be allowed to happen.
|Unauthorised changes have now been made which help airlines reduce maintenance costs by stressing the engines less on take-off and flying at chimney pot height for 20 miles. We do not propose to retroactively consult on these changes or inconvenience ourselves by reinstating any pre-trial flight patterns/heights.|
|Policy therefore needs to provide clarity on the need for airspace designs to minimise the number of people overflown, the balance between overflying urban or rural areas and
AONBs and this policy is urgently needed. There is also a need for Government to give specific guidance on the methods and evidence that can be used for options appraisal,
environmental performance and assessment, and compensation arrangements where appropriate.
|With reference to the recent trials at Heathrow and Gatwick it is clear that the public reaction to concentration is worse than we had expected, whether that is at 4,000ft, 7,000ft or 10,000ft – communities are annoyed by the unexpected noise and visual intrusion.
|We are surprised that communities should object to being overflown every two minutes between 6am and midnight. We simply cannot understand what the fuss is about.|
|Communities do need transparency in order to understand what is happening and when, and they should have a mechanism that is effective for them to contribute to the debate or conversation, but it cannot be used as a decision-making mechanism.
|It’s OK to ask communities what they want but in the end its what the industry wants that matters. And we know best, dearie!|
Despite this progress, low level airspace modernisation remains a significant issue and Government involvement in FAS is somewhat limited with DfT effectively representing Government as an observer rather than taking a more active role due to the lack of overriding policy on managing the impact of change.
|Heavens! It’s so much easier when you don’t have to operate in a democracy.|
|It should be recognised that it is inevitable that modernisation will require changes to lateral flight paths and in some cases, new communities may be affected and tracks may be more concentrated. Even without introducing new routes, aircraft are increasingly using satellite navigation to navigate more accurately and are being flown in automated modes which mean that their tracks are already becoming more consistent.
|If you think this is bad dear, wait till we’re all on PBN (performance based navigation). You won’t know what hit you.|
|On the merits of an Independent Aviation Noise Authority and desirability of classifying airspace within the National Infrastructure Commission’s remit
The Civil Aviation Authority has a demonstrable track record of independence.
FASIIG members are concerned that an additional process will simply add to bureaucracy cost and risk.
If implemented, it is important that this role supports the industry in making changes in a sustainable way rather than becoming yet another barrier to modernisation and change – for example by conducting noise research.
|We absolutely do not want an independent noise body. And we are not going to have an independent noise body!
Nor do we want taxpayers’ money being wasted on health studies or any such bureaucratic nonsense.
|This role must not be allowed to become an appeals process against changes or become a further bureaucratic barrier to change. Rather it needs to be proactive in managing and facilitating change ensuring the views and concerns of all stakeholders in the aviation industry have been considered.
|We absolutely do not want an independent noise body … . See above.|
|FASIIG is concerned too that the creation of an ICCAN suggests that noise is an issue to be considered above all other factors when managing airspace. It should be balanced with many other environmental, capacity and safety concerns.
|Although it should be noted that we don’t give a damn about the environment either.|
|FASIIG strongly endorses the classification of airspace within the National Infrastructure Commission’s remit for that sub-set of airspace changes that are of national significance,
Such as the modernisation of the Terminal Area over London for example. The advantage of using the NIC is that it effectively de-politicises the decision making offering a more stable framework that transcends the life of individual governments.
|Whenever we get support from an administration it gets sent packing by the wretched, ignorant voters, and then we don’t get support from the next administration. Godammit. We just need to be above the law.|
|Inquiry status: Concluded
“Due to the general election on 8 June 2017 the Committee has now closed this inquiry. Following the dissolution of Parliament on 3 May 2017, all Select Committees cease to exist until after the general election. If an inquiry on this subject is held in the future, the Committee may refer to the evidence already gathered as part of this inquiry”.
|No further discussion|