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Operational Freedoms trial: Phase 1

Phase 1 (1 November 2011 to 29 February 2012) trial details

Operational Freedoms granted for Phase 1 by the Minister of State allowed for more flexible use of the runways through the increase in the number of arrivals using both runways simultaneously and the number of departures using both runways simultaneously. Phase 1 of the trial investigated the impacts of the following measures:

  • operating arrivals on the designated departures runway – i.e a dual arrival runway operation (so-called tactically enhanced arrivals measures (TEAM*) applied after 07:00 hours);
  • operating departures on the designated arrivals runway – a dual departure runway operation (so-called tactically enhanced departures (TED) measures).

The measures were only used when specific trigger conditions were met as follows:

  • an anticipated arrival or departure delay of ten minutes or more;
  • a headwind on approach to Heathrow  forecast to be greater than 20 knots at 3000 feet;
  • an arrival or departure flight schedule anticipated to run later than 30 minutes or 30% of flights are running outside of the 15 minute punctuality target;
  • following a period of disruption to facilitate recovery.

Phase 1 of the trial also included a number of proactive tests using the same measures described above but specifically involving:

  • landing Airbus A380 flights on the runway closest to their destination stand;
  • landing small aircraft on the designated departure runway;
  • use of the southern runway for Terminal 4 (T4) arrivals and departures.

These proactive tests were restricted to two four week periods during Phase 1 of the trial - between 28 November 2011 and 25 December 2011 inclusive, and between 16 January 2012 and 12 February 2012 inclusive.

Monthly reports

Heathrow Operational Freedoms Monthly Report - November 2011 (6.03MB)

Heathrow Operational Freedoms Monthly Report - December 2011 (4.92 MB)

Heathrow Operational Freedoms Monthly Report - January 2012 (2.11 MB)

Heathrow Operational Freedoms Monthly Report - February 2012 (890 KB)

Key findings

The Phase 1 report provides a full analysis of the outcomes from operational, environmental, economic and community perspectives.  There have been some valuable learnings from Phase 1 which have been used to inform Phase 2 of the trial and will be used to assess future progress with the development of Operational Freedoms.

Heathrow Operational Freedoms Trial Phase 1 Report (3.88MB PDF)

Heathrow Operational Freedoms Phase 1 Trial - Appendix 14: Effect on noise (7.97MB PDF)

Headline findings from Phase 1

  • During the entire period, operational freedoms movements totalled 1802 out of a total of approximately 56260 westerly arrivals (or just over 3%).
  • The number of aircraft landing out of ‘alternation’ increased on westerly and easterly operations by approximately 60% and 30% respectively.  This means an additional 13 movements per day during westerly operations
  • Although there was an increase in the number of de-alternated arrivals, the noise exposure changes were small.
  • There were improvements in both the taxi-in and stack holding times under adverse conditions which appeared to be attributable to the trial and suggested reductions in emissions of pollutants including NOx, PM10 and CO2 as a result.
  • Unscheduled night time departures decreased during the period of the trial (3 and 6 departures per day during westerly and easterly conditions respectively).
  • Runway crossings, for arrivals, decreased during the proactive test periods by 13% and 16% on westerly and easterly operations respectively (a reduction of 5 and 9 crossings per day)
  • Early indications suggest net beneficial effect of fuel burn savings
  • During the trial, 674 individual local residents contacted Heathrow to complain about noise from aircraft using Heathrow. This is double the average number of individual complainants who contacted Heathrow in the same period in each of the previous three years.

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