Hundreds of planes to circle Hunts skies

CHANGES to the holding areas for aircraft using Luton Airport could see around 100 planes a day circling over parts of Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire. Proposals unveiled on Thursday would see the current holding circle for westerly arrivals move

CHANGES to the holding areas for aircraft using Luton Airport could see around 100 planes a day circling over parts of Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire.

Proposals unveiled on Thursday would see the current holding circle for westerly arrivals moved from above the Royston area to cover parts to over Cambourne, Papworth, Hilton, the Gransdens and surrounding villages and countryside.

However, planes heading for the holding circle could also be allowed to fly over parts of Huntingdon, St Ives and St Neots.

Planes would be restricted to flying at least 6,000ft above the ground while in this area before heading for Luton.

According to figures, the number of flights using Luton averages at about 8.3 per hour during daytime operations (6am to 10.59pm). This drops to 1.1 at other times.

NATS (National Air Traffic Service) stresses that not all flights will use the holding areas and, when possible, flights will go directly to the airport.

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However, there are also plans to expand the number of flights, with estimates increasing to an average of 10.3 in daytime operating hours by 2009 and 13.1 by 2014.

Figures provided by NATS also show the typical noise levels produced by the aircraft that use Luton.

At 6,000ft Boeing 737-700s (used for 26 per cent of flights) would produce between less than 55 and 60 decibels while the nosiest aircraft (less than one per cent of flights) would produce up to 61 decibels at the same height.

For comparison sakes, a normal conversation between two people is said to be between 60-70 decibels.

NATS said the proposals, which will be out for consultation, would change holding areas for arrivals at both Luton and Stansted, which will have two new holds.

Overall, it says, there would be 22,000 fewer people (36 per cent) living under the three new holds than under the two existing holds currently shared by the two airports.

The consultation period closes on May 22, 2008.

All feedback will be submitted to the Civil Aviation Authority which will have the final decision. If approved, the changes will not become operational before spring 2009.

INFORMATION: A full report with analysis and reaction will be published in the next edition of The Hunts Post. However, to have your views printed, e-mail editor@huntspost.co.uk or write to The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon PE29 3TB. You can also visit www.nats.co.uk/TCNconsultation to find out more.

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