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CAA approves airspace change to separate Stansted and Luton flights

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The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has approved a safety-driven airspace change which will separate flights heading for Stansted and Luton airports.

Work is under way to train air traffic controllers and ensure pilots are familiar with the new routes and accompanying procedures ahead of implementation on February 24 next year.

The change, known as 'London Luton Airport Arrivals', follows public consultation from October 2020 to February 2021 which prompted feedback from more than 2,400 respondents.

Luton and Stansted Airport proposed airspace changes (53651193)
Luton and Stansted Airport proposed airspace changes (53651193)

Co-sponsored by Luton Airport and NATS, the UK's national air traffic service provider, it considered two options to simplify and modernise the arrival routes for flights into Luton and segregate them from Stansted's.

The responses were incorporated into the final design submitted to the CAA earlier this year, with three notable changes to the original proposal. A modified version of 'Option One' was progressed – minimal changes from today's flight paths below 5,000ft (1,524m) with greater dispersion of flights above. The location and orientation of the new holding area near the A1-A14 junction were adjusted and the lowest standard altitude of the hold was raised by 1,000ft (304.8m), reducing potential noise impacts on residents of St Neots and Huntingdon.

After a year of operation and for the final stage of the official airspace change process, both sponsors will submit 12 months of real-flight performance data to the CAA for a "post-implementation review".

Arrivals towards the north east (53651207)
Arrivals towards the north east (53651207)

Meanwhile, proposals to change flight paths at Stansted Airport are progressing.

The Government has asked all UK airports to review how new technology can best be used to make their airspace more efficient. New tech such as satellite navigation systems has the potential to reduce the need for stacking and delays and help to cut emissions.

Stansted currently has four flight paths: departing on the easterly or skirting Bishop's Stortford on the westerly noise preferential routes (NPRs) and arriving towards the north-east and south-west.

All UK airports are responsible for reviewing their operations up to an altitude of 7,000ft (2,133.6m) with NATS looking at aircraft routings above that altitude.

Arrivals towards the south west (53651210)
Arrivals towards the south west (53651210)

A spokesman for the airport said: "London Stansted began working on its part of this essential national programme in 2020, following the CAA's airspace change process. We are currently working on Stage 2.

"At this stage, a comprehensive list of route design options is being produced and refined through stakeholder engagement before being assessed against our design principles.

"These are the high-level considerations that guide the development of our route options which were established through stakeholder engagement at stage 1 of the programme. The airport will submit its stage 2 work for assessment by the CAA in the spring of 2022."

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