NEWS RELEASE - 24th March 2014
FARNBOROUGH AIRSPACE GRAB
TAG Farnborough Airport, once the centre of aviation development and improvement of air safety but now an exclusive airport for VIP and business jets, is proposing massive airspace changes over much of Hampshire, West Sussex and the South Downs National Park.
The glossy brochures and well-crafted proposals look almost palatable to those generally un-informed about aviation. But to those who are informed, it’s the information they have chosen to exclude which is very worrying. We at Lasham Gliding Society oppose this proposal by TAG on grounds of:
Estimates suggest 30,000 passengers per year currently use Farnborough. It should be noted that approximately 45% of the flights into and out of Farnborough are “positioning flights” i.e. no passengers on board. TAG is now applying for approximately twice the volume of controlled airspace that London Gatwick Airport uses to handle 34.2 million passengers per year. So on current numbers TAG is proposing over 2,000 times more controlled airspace per passenger than London Gatwick Airport requires.We believe this is a completely disproportionate proposal today and for any approved future expansion of aircraft and passenger movements at Farnborough; It seems to be the equivalent of a big limousine company buying two lanes of the M25 exclusively for the use of the rich and famous!
It is unprecedented for new controlled airspace to be created solely for operations, such as TAG’s business and private jet operations at Farnborough.
So how will this affect us?
Why are TAG making these proposals?
We don’t know!
TAG Farnborough has been warned repeatedly by the general aviation and gliding community about these serious safety issues but they have chosen to ignore them in their proposals. They have conveniently not included any information about the huge amounts of general aviation traffic that could be affected, which has the effect of making their proposals look almost palatable to the public. Using the analogy of the limousine company above, it’s counting only the trucks and lorries using the M25, and excluding all the cars!
Other issues concerning this ‘land-grabbing of the sky’ are not only of safety and noise, but also of threatening extensive aerial recreational activities in the South especially gliding. We and our sister club the Southdown Gliding Club, near Storrington in West Sussex, are now seriously threatened. We are also aware that Goodwood are seriously concerned about the commercial impact of this proposal and are making representations too.
Key general aviation organisations in the UK are now fighting against these proposals. The Royal Aero Club represented by the General Aviation Alliance includes the, the Light Aircraft Association, Gliding, Hang Gliding, Para Gliding, Balloon, Microlighting, Helicopter, and Parachuting Associations and, more locally, ourselves (Hampshire) and the Southdown Gliding Club (West Sussex).
We are, and have been, making a thorough technical analysis of the TAG proposal and we do have a number of members who are very experienced at a professional level on airspace matters. We have previously identified and communicated to TAG detailed alternative technical solutions which work at other major airports internationally and we believe are entirely suitable for Farnborough. These solutions would avoid the wide negative impact of the TAG proposal but have been largely ignored.
"Notes for Editors". Lasham Gliding Society is the largest gliding club in the World. It is open 364 days each year. The Club owns the airfield which has a distinguished 2nd World War history, and part of which is now used for the servicing of commercial airliners. Lasham is a major training centre with over 100 Instructors and offers trial lessons and a variety of courses for beginners and advanced pilots:
- LGS supports the training and development of glider pilots from all walks of life across the South of England, with 63,000 or more aircraft and glider movements per year.
- Fully self-funded, we sponsor a large Cadet group (youth group) and support those with disabilities who are learning to fly.
- Lasham is also home to several other clubs, including the Imperial College (University) Gliding Club and the Crown Services Gliding Club
- Lasham offers gliding for disabled with specially equipped gliders and facilities
- The British Gliding Team, which competes in the World Championships, train at Lasham and some members are based here. Many National records have been set with flights from Lasham.
- Our 600+ members are engaged in many different gliding activities including aerobatics, cross-country flying and competing at Club, National and International levels.
- Lasham is home to the recently opened national Gliding Heritage Centre, the only dedicated collection of vintage gliders in the UK - many of which are airworthy and regularly flown at Lasham.
- Numerous people also enjoy our relaxing and environmentally-friendly form of aviation through our Trial Flights programme, which is open to all members of the general public.
- Lasham Airfield is also the base for a number of aviation related commercial businesses which provide significant employment for the local area.
For more information about this Release, or the Society in general, please contact: Werner Stroud, General Manager firstname.lastname@example.org – or 01256 384900.