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Review finds ‘significant flaws’ in Heathrow third runway

A new north-west runway (left) would be a full 3,200m long. Enough for any aircraft type to use

An independent review by aviation safety consultancy Ebeni UK has identified ‘serious issues’ with Heathrow airport’s third runway plans, citing concerns over safety, capacity, operating efficiency, impact on residents, departure routes and the environment.

Heathrow Hub, which has proposed its own solution to the Heathrow expansion in the form of an extension to the existing northern runway westward away from London, commissioned the review to “make up the failure of either Heathrow airport, the Airports Commission or the Department for Transport to conduct a safety review”.

The report highlights several key findings, including a claim that the new runway would not be able to safely operate the 740,000 annual flights proposed by Heathrow airport. It argues that the middle runway would only be able to operate at two-thirds the capacity of the other two due to safety constraints, resulting in less than 700,000 flights a year.

Heathrow Hub also claims the noise impact of the third runway would bring around 20 per cent more residents into the noise footprint than its own proposal. It also says Heathrow’s proposal will expand overflights to “at least 60,000” people in west London, which will reduce currently available noise abatement procedures.

Lastly, the report found a third runway will add strain on airlines, claiming they would face “significant” operational costs resulting from longer taxiing distances and less efficient approach and departure routes.

Jock Lowe, director of Heathrow Hub, commented: “Failing to ensure a proper safety review has been conducted is, I am afraid, a massive omission by Heathrow airport and the Department for Transport. The sooner the government realises it has made a significant mistake in recommending Heathrow airport’s expensive, complex scheme the better.”

Heathrow Hub said it will submit the full version of the report to the Department for Transport and the Commons Transport Select Committee for review.

The report is released as the latest public consultation on the third runway is due to come to a close on December 19.

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