NEW TERMINAL 5
Latest JANUARY 19th 2012
MARCH 1st 2008
protesters against the plan for a third runway at Heathrow are linking
their case to the need to reduce CO2 emissions and noise, but they are
wrong. It is essential to progressively reduce both of these, but the
efficient running of Heathrow as London's main airport is the best way
to achieve them and a third runway will help, not hinder this process.
by airspace and
air-traffic control factors, not ground space and runway space. But
these can have a huge influence on efficiency and safety and the way
London Airport serves London and its economy.
to more modern aircraft, bigger
aircraft for intercontinental flights and a new type of approach to the
final glide path for landing that involves less power and far less
manoeuvring. This will be progressively the case.
above improvements in any way and
will ease certain problems of air traffic control and safety both in
routine operations and emergencies.
new runway and trade
their support for more expenditure and acceleration in all sorts of
ways to reduce noise, pollution and congestion on the ground and in the
air. We need positive solutions that bring sustainable and ecologically
sound growth. The purely negative policy of stopping the building of a
runway is just not good enough. Efficiency and new techniques and
technology, with a real reduction in the carbon footprint of travellers
is the way to go.
Individuals can help by reducing flights for their own amusement and
using other forms of transport with less carbon consequence when these
MARCH 20th 2008
An anonymous air-traffic controller (retired) with 30 years experience
has told the BBC that the horizontal separation safety limits are
breached too often round Heathrow, due to the policy of packing
aircraft as tighlly as possible for landing. While it is right to
insist that these limits should nor be breached, the real safety
depends on two facors: (1) If a breach does occur is it immediately
noticed and (2) can steps be taken to correct the situation. Because
the separation minima are designed to leave a very considerable
distance betwen aircraft a built-in margin to allow exceptional
breaches exists for that very purpose. There is an additional factor
that concerns the relative headings of any two aircraft and this is
dependent on the proper planning of approach patterns so that aircraft
at the same altitude or passing through the same altitude are never
appraoching head on or within 90 degrees of head-on.
Because safety depends NOT on the breach of the minima unless this is
unobserved and even then on the factors noted above, it is the speed of
approach and the angle which is at issue here. However, when it is a
case of slotting aircraft into the final approach from opposite sides
of the extended centreline, there can be a situation where a small
error in timing can present a relatively rapid reaching of the
separation limit. Fortunately under these conditions the situation is
under the control of a single controller who becomes instantly aware of
any conflict. I note thay the
instances he is talking about are not classed as 'airmiss' or 'airprox'
by NATS, so clearly not a real risk but a technical breach which was
noticed and corrected and the orror in procedure pointed out to the
controller in question..
However, this resinforces my point that it is ATC limits that will stop
Heathrow from continuing to increase its movements, so there is no
point in protesting about a third runway which will make the current
number safer. A change in the way aircraft are marshalled for approach
is also on the cards which could benefit air trafic and also London
MARCH 28th 2008
HEATHROW TERMINAL 5
The failure of the baggage loading and retrieval system at the new
Terminal 5 must be one of the least surprising events of the century,
but nevertheless in view of the inability of the management to explain
it or passengers to expect it, a few words are in order here. It is
important that we understand what happened here as similar things are
going to happen more and more in the future in all sorts of arenas when
we deal with large numbers of people and systems.
Three items to note at the start:
1. All new terminal buildings have been chaotic wherever and whenever
they have been opened if this has been at a major international. hub
already working at full capacity. Staff training and experience is a
2. The baggage system at Heathrow and most other airports, even when
well run-in, is a critical and vulnerable system subject to a variety
of human-machine interfaces. That they work adequately is the result of
long periods of trial and error and the tacit acceptance of huge
amounts of error, the evidence of which is brought to our attention
daily by they amount of lost and misrouted and stolen luggage that
results from its forced operation in synchronicity with aviation
imperatives driven by on the one hand inflexible rules and on the other
arbitrary conditions such as weather, road traffic anomalies and
3. All human progress is by trial and error. A full scale real trial of
Terminal 5 could not be simulated because the arbitrary human element
incalculable and its interface with technical systems and reaction to
technical hitches cannot be simulated by volunteers and trained experts
standing in for humanity in all its infinite variety.
In the case of an international airport in the 21st century we have to
add some extra ingredients which render the opening of a new terminal
without serious problems impossible. These are the requirements of (1)
Health and Safety and (2) Security, both of which have been required to
be absolute. These two requirements are at the same time politically
mandatory and physically impossible when dealing with a human input
with an uncontrollable flow rate driven by a rigid timetable.
An operation such as Terminal 5 cannot be designed and put into
operation in complete working order when it has to satisfy competing
demands from uncompromising authorities, until there has been
confrontation and negotiation on the technological and human level that
will result in practice with an acceptation of imperfection at those
levels which are not considered obviously life-threatening or
inacceptable to consumers in a competitive world. Of course what
'consumers' fancy in the way of choice and privilege may vary. I have
just watched 25 hours of THE WORLD AT WAR (Narrated by Lawrence
Olivier) and about 6 hours of Attenborough's SECRET LIFE OF
PLANTS. I think anyone less than 70 years old should be forced to
do the same before being given a passport.
None of the above in any way relieves those responsible for the opening
of Terminal 5 and the staffing of its systems from the fact they
screwed up, some much more than others. There could of course be no
overall control for reasons I have explained above if you have been
The most amusing news of today is that Mr Cameron, the leader of the
Tory party, feels it is humiliating! Mr Cameron's utter irrelevance to
this issue is supreme. Were he never to have lived it would not mke the
slightest difference to the likelyhood of Terminal 5 opening smoothly
or operating smoothly or not at any time in the future. As for his
feeling humiliated, you have to be certain kind of performing prick to
be 'humiliated'.. Those who actually do things can feel annoyed, and
apologetic for those who have been inconvenienced - that's about the
ADDENDUM APRIL 1st:
In case I did not make the point clearly enough, for the problems
that arose with the baggage system to be overcome in time to avoid the
accumulating catastrophe we have just witnessed, BA and BAA would have
needed fully trained and highly dedicated staff manning the system at
every level. But no doubt they thought they had designed a system to
get round the problems they had become accustomed to, which was very
far from the ideal I have described, and thereby function with only a
few highly trained and dedicated staff and a mix of casual or even
hostile employees with unresolved industrial relations issues. There is
no way that such an inadequte team could deal with what happened at T5.
There is a latent Luddite in many.
MAY 21st 2008
The reservations listed in the report cited below are reasonable. In
general, airport expansion should be on hold until these matters have
been resolved. However this does NOT apply to Heathrow as we already
have a situation which requires a third runway as soon as possible.for
reasons which cannot be eliminated or mitigated. These apply to
Heathrow as an airport and London as an aviation hub, a capital city
and an industrial and regional centre.
Aviation impacts 'hotly disputed'
| By Roger Harrabin
BBC environment analyst
UK ministers have been urged
to halt airport expansion until the true
costs and benefits of the proposed increase in flying are properly
Development Commission (SDC) and the Institute for Public Policy
Research (IPPR) have been examining aviation policy for a year.
They conclude that so much
fundamental data is disputed that an independent inquiry is needed to
sort it out.
The government said it had
serious objections to the report's findings.
A statement from the Department for Transport (DfT) rejected the
that a further three-year debate, as requested by the SDC and IPPR,
would serve any useful purpose.
Among the main areas of dispute are:
- The economic benefit of aviation
: Treasury analysis based on aviation industry research estimates
future increases in economic activity through expanded aviation - but
excludes any calculation of losses to the UK tourist industry through
cheap flights abroad.
- The impact of aviation's greenhouse gas emissions
: This is a particularly difficult area as scientists are still trying
to work out exactly how much the heating effect of aircraft emissions
is magnified, as the gases are released at altitude. There is also
uncertainty over how to express the significance of the heating effect
- The role of technology
: The aviation industry believes that many problems can be solved by
improved technology. But many experts warn that improvements in
technology cannot keep up with the increase in demand for flying.
The SDC/IPPR report said all the uncertainty had eroded people's
confidence in government policy.
They want to see a full investigation - and airport expansion
frozen until it is completed.
Despite its uncertainties the report does feel free to make one
It says: "Clashing government priorities across different
and agencies - including promoting economic growth, meeting future
travel needs, protecting the environment, addressing climate change,
and ensuring the health and well-being of communities - are
contributing to a lack of coherence across government."
Hugh Raven, SDC commissioner, said: "The SDC and IPPR held meetings
with the government, the aviation industry, academics, NGOs and
citizens' groups over a period of a year.
"While we expected to find areas of conflict, we were
unprepared for the level of fundamental disagreement over the data
underpinning the government's whole aviation strategy.
"Until some basic questions are answered, the UK cannot
be in a position to make major decisions about the future of air
"The government must live up to its commitment to
listening to voters' concerns, and ensure we make the best possible
decisions for everyone involved."
Simon Retallack, associate director of the IPPR, added:
"It is vital that the evidence is looked at again through an
independent and widely supported process. Establishing a special
commission to do that provides the government with the best way
Serves 'no interest'
But a DfT spokesperson said it was "simply wrong to claim that
there is a consensus that the evidence base is flawed".
"We strongly believe the aviation industry must play its part in
meeting its environmental costs which is why the government championed
the inclusion of aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. But given
the government has conducted a widespread debate over the last six
years, deferring a decision in favour of a further three-year debate as
this report suggests is not a serious option."
And Michelle Di Leo, director of the aviation lobby
group FlyingMatters, said: "The Air Transport White Paper was based on
13 months of public consultation and 500,000 responses.
"To completely review that policy would create
uncertainty and planning blight for communities around airports in the
UK - that would be bad news for everyone not to mention the taxpayer
who would have to foot the bill."
It can be stated with confidence that the baggage system at Heathrow
Terminal 5 is now operating as it was designed to. There have been no
significant changes, apart from enough trained, competent and willing
staff to operate it. The rest of the modernisation should proceed with
A new runway is needed. Global warming is not a factor
that should affect the implementation of these improvements. The
equations are more complicated than those who think it is are
JANUARY 14th 2009
The government has taken the decision to go ahead with the third runway
at Heathrow. They have taken it for the right reasons. The
environmentalists have had their say and been listened to. I only hope
that the UK government will apply climate control thinking properly to
their plans to recover from the current resession.
David King is right, Ruth Lea is wrong. If we try to compete by aping
the irresponsible policies of Italy, Poland and even Germany, that is
the same as shutting our eyes to the mad banking competition that took
us to global bankruptcy. If the building of a new runway at Heathrow
was part of such thinking I would be violently against it, but I can
assure readers that unless Heathrow were to be abandoned and rebuilt
elsewhere (not possible now), the only good solution includes a third
runway. Never forget - London first grew because of the Thames, and
London was key to the growth of Britain. It grew again because of its
airport and is dependent on it.
Technological mastery of the airport and sustainable air travel is the
way forward. I am in no way taking the view that more travel for more
people is the inevitable future. We can either have more people and
less travel for each, or fewer people, or replace real travel by
virtual travel, or or any appropiate combination of the above. We can
either control the climate or have the climate control us, as it did
quite properly in the previous evolution of humanity. The universe
perfectly self-designing, whichever happens will be for the best
however much it hurts.
OCTOBER 11th 2009
News is leaking out that BAA, looking at the possibility of a Tory
government or hung parliament and the troubles of the recession, are
putting the 3rd runway on the back burner. No doubt some will think it
will be abandoned but this would be a mistake. The idea that it is
contrary to measures to control and arrest climate change is completely
Equipping the whole of the UK for frequent snowfalls is one thing,
making sure Heathrow can operated in snow and extremely difficult icing
conditions is another. The whole of the UK economy is linked to the
efficient operation of Heathrow. It is the major interchange airport
for intercontinental flights to the rest of Europe and all UK internal
destinations by air road and rail. When it is knocked out, the chaos
that results in other European and UK airports and airspace as incoming
aircraft are diverted is very considerable. For this reason, regardless
of what measures are taken nationally to prepare for climate change, it
should have been understood a long time ago that Heathrow must have
better means than than any other in the entire world to ensure it can
handle all types of snow and ice that may occur. A lot of this
equipment may remain unused for long periods but we are dealing here
AIRPORT. It must be equipped, not regardless of cost because the cost
is not that great. Let us not exaggerate. The excuse that we don't
often get these conditions is absolutely irrelevant. I think later
Gatwick could be given the same treatment one day but for God's
sake let us do
it for Heathrow because we have built an economy that depends on it. We
don't need any scientific forecast to come to this conclusion
On another aspect of this issue I have always though that to plan any
sort of travel over Christmas was the hight of risk and should be
abandoned if there is any likelyhood of trouble. Our whole economy is
becoming more vulnerable year on year as it is ever more transport
oriented. This is an error made inevitable by the supine stance of
liberal governments in the face of 'popiular demand'. The luxury of a
democracy when it comes to electing our leaders must be balanced by the
response of those elected to take tough decisions in the direction of
society. Such toughness can only be demonstrated by leaders with a
proper grasp of the issues. The UK has in the past and in my opinion
still, the two cultures problem. Our leaders are scien tifically
illiterate and our scientists are poor at handling the dialogue with
economists and politicians. They are terrified of seeming to express
opinions beyond strict scientific limits, and so poor at translating
from science to optional choices. On top of that we suffer from a
popular media that is tuly appalling when it comes to dealing with any
technical issues. They appear to rejoice in the ignorance of the public
and of their own reporters. As
country is vulnerable to breakdown.
In recent days we have heard journalists suggest the Russia can handle
worse weather all the time. NO, THEY CAN'T. They have steam engines and
diesels that pull trains at 40 mph. They have nothing approaching the
beehive of operations that the daily life of the UK comprises. Canada
has about ONE MAIN ROAD which follows the line of the Canadian Pacific
Railway and they can try to keep usable, and as a country with major
natural resources they have invested massively in snow management to
keep their industries running and the roads to these clear. The CPR
railway is equipped to handle any amount of snow because that is what
it does. It is the world leader. It takes freight and no passengers
slowly across Canada.
If we were to decide to use enough salt to keep all our roads clear
that would cause an environmental disaster if our winters were to get
and stay worse. We have to learn how to behave or we are going to wreck
our habitat unless we can come up with technological solutions that are
DECEMBER 24th 2010
As reported below, other countries have there troubles, but this in no
way excuses the failure at Heathrow to prepare for emergencies or to
realise the effect of failing to clear the snow on the apron, by
manpower if necessary.
December 2010 Last updated at 17:35
Thousands of travellers
have had their Christmas plans disrupted by further snowfalls across
Hundreds of flights have been cancelled at Charles de Gaulle airport
near Paris where 2,000 passengers were moved from a terminal because of
snow on the roof.
Brussels airport was also badly hit and Belgians were warned not to
Hundreds of road accidents have been reported across Germany, and in
northern Italy heavy rain has caused flooding in parts of Venice.
Unusually high water levels were reported in the Venice lagoon. In
the town of Vicenza, west of Venice, people were moved from their homes
because of high river levels.
Airport authorities at Charles de Gaulle ordered part of Terminal 2E
to be cleared of passengers because of fears that the roof might
collapse under the weight of 60cm (2ft) of snow.
In 2004, the same roof collapsed shortly
after the terminal opened, killing four people.
The disruption at Charles de Gaulle was also blamed on a shortage of
de-icing fluid, and the cancellation of flights led to 2,000 people
being stranded at the airport overnight.
The French authorities, struggling to cope with the country's third
major snowfall of the winter, said fresh supplies were on their way but
would not arrive before Monday.
Air France's head of operations Michel Emeyriat said he was
extremely sorry for the delays, adding: "I haven't seen this
[situation] in the past 10 years."
Later, AFP news agency quoted the French civil aviation authority as
saying that conditions at the airport would return to "normal" by
the guys responsible:
Colin Matthews, Chief Executive
Colin was appointed BAA's Chief Executive Officer in 2008. He is an
experienced FTSE100 CEO who has led a number of service and industrial
businesses in several countries. Prior to joining BAA, Colin was Group
Chief Executive of Severn Trent plc, Managing Director of BA
Engineering for British Airways plc, and later Executive Director of
Lattice Group plc and Group Chief Executive of Hays Group plc.
Nick Cullen, Chief Operating Officer,
Nick joined BAA in February 2010. Nick was previously director
of business development Northern Europe for CEVA Logistics, and has
experience in logistics, supply chain and manufacturing at companies
such as DHL, Gap, Diageo, Scottish Courage, Heinz and Mars. His role is
critical to continuously improving operations at Heathrow and making
every journey better for our passengers and airlines
ask if the background of these men really equips them for the
job. Are they men who have felt the real world of aviation, on
the ground and in the air and in the control tower, in their hands and
just glorified accountants. Anyone with the smallest
understanding of physics, meteorology and aviation would, in the
current circumstances, have asked themselves 'what if?' concerning a
number of probabilities and gone looking for answers. Foregoing a
bonus? Both these men should have resigned.
JANUARY 19th 2012
There is now cross party agreement AGAINST a third runway at Heathrow
BECAUSE (they say) OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT!
This is lunacy. It will have less environmental impact than any
possible alternative, it can be read before any alternative, it will
improve safety at Heathrow. Improvements in aircraft and rail
connections to Heathrow will make it the right decision from every
point of view. Aircraft noise is not an issue at all. Charles Moore
talks rubbish on this as usual. Boris's idea is bonkers for too many
huge reasons to start to waste your time with.
There can be more capacity introduced at Birmingham and Manchester and
better rail connection from both of these to Heathrow. It is ABSOLUTELY
ESSENTIAL that the decision to stop the third runway at Heathrow, taken
for completely invalid reasons, IS REVERSED. Since all parties are
responsible for this decision, there will be no relative loss of face
if it is reversed. Steve Norris is an utter loser and too boring to
exist but still staggers around being useless and doing whatever he
needs to earn a crust no matter how irresponsible. Dear God, thank
goodness the Chinese outnumber us.