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At long last we're getting a clearer picture of what Infratil wants to do with our sky, and it doesn't make pretty reading: a 25-fold increase in night flights, and some sly counting to make it look less. The owners of Manton airport first started asking for more night flights at the beginning of 2009, during the BAWC débâcle. At the time, they claimed it was not just pressing, but urgent. Some 20 months have passed, during which they submitted another request, which was useless as it was missing key bits of information like... er... how many night flights, and how much noise.

BAP report on Night Flights

At long last we’re getting a clearer picture of what Infratil wants to do with our sky, and it doesn’t make pretty reading: a 25-fold increase in night flights, and some sly counting to make it look less. The owners of Manton airport first started asking for more night flights at the beginning of 2009, during the BAWC débâcle. At the time, they claimed it was not just pressing, but urgent. Some 20 months have passed, during which they submitted another request, which was useless as it was missing key bits of information like… er… how many night flights, and how much noise.

Infratil (Manston’s owners) have now got someone to help them type the numbers – Bickerdike Allen Partners. Charles Buchanan recently portayed BAP as being independent consultants with a record of even-handedness. Looking at their website, their emphasis seems to be more on acoustic design and sound-proofing buildings, rather than flight paths. But noise is noise, right?

Risking torture and death, my alarmingly effective spies have brought me BAP’s draft findings, and they make grim reading:

  • Firstly, these people reckon that currently there are 2 night flights A WEEK, on average. You may agree with this number. You may not.
  • Secondly, they are seeking permission for 7.7 night flights A NIGHT, on average. You may regard this as acceptable, or even desirable. You may not.
  • What really pees me off is the way Infratil are trying to move the goalposts by tinkering with the definition of “night”. Across the UK, and throughout the aviation industry, “night” is 2300-0700 (or 11pm to 7am, in old money).

Infratil are fond of laying claim to ‘shoulder periods’ which simply have the effect of shortening the night. In the table below, you will see that Infratil are quite brazen about this manipulation. During the average night, 7.7 planes would be flying, but only 3 of them would count towards the Quota Count – simply and solely because Infratil have decided to designate 2330-0600 as the only period of time that would be subjected to Quota Count. Thanet District Council must nip this in the bud.

  • Infratil’s request for a quota count of 1,995 for the period 2330-0600 is enough for the three flights they are forecasting in that arbitrarily shortened time-frame.
  • To cater for the 7.7 flights they are forecasting in the period covered by the standard definition of night, i.e. 2300-0700, they would need a quota count of 5,120.

Night-time aircraft movements at Manston currently occur on an ad-hoc basis and involve aircraft of the type that are expected to fly in the future, for example the B747-400. The number of movements that take place currently vary from week to week and month to month but are typically around 2 per week at present.

Future Night-time Aircraft Movements

Up to the year 2018, MSE have developed forecasts for future night-time aircraft movements that indicate the following number of movements over a calendar year and during a typical night:-

 

 

Night-time Aircraft Movements (2018)

 

Annual

Typical night

Hours

Passenger

Freight

Passenger

Freight

23.00 – 23.30

1,016

57

2.8

0.4

23.30 – 06.00*

610

471

1.7

1.3

06.00 – 07.00

407

157

1.1

0.4

 

2,033

785

5.6

2.1

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