Tag: LONDON

Feel Free to use Luton at Night!

Feeling the crush of operating to London at night? We’ve got some good news for you:

?? Luton (EGGW) will be back to 24 hour operations starting October 1, 2018 ??

Luton has been closed all summer between 2200Z and 0559Z for noise abatement regulations. However, these limitations have been lifted, and all will be back to 24/7.

The nighttime noise restrictions for EGLL/Heathrow, EGKK/Gatwick, and EGSS/Stansted are still in place, making nighttime GA/BA operations to these airports limited.

Here’s a rundown of the current restrictions:

  • EGMC/Southend (40 miles away) & EGBB/Birmingham (115 miles away) are the only airports with no restrictions (thus far).
  • EGLL/Heathrow & EGGK/Gatwick: Pretty much a no-go zone for business aviation these days
  • EGLC/London City: closed from 1030pm to 0630am
  • EGWU/Northolt: closed from 8pm to 8am on weekdays
  • EGLF/Farnborough: closed from 10pm to 7am on weekdays
  • EGKB/Biggin Hill: closed from 11pm to 6.30am on weekdays, and 10pm to 8am on weekends
Extra Reading:

The diversion dilemma over London

A few months back an Air Canada A330 suffered a hydraulic failure as it started it’s Atlantic crossing from France to Canada. The crew decided to turn back and wanted to divert to EGLL/London Heathrow – this was denied.

Since then, other reports have been received of other aircraft requesting similar non-emergency diversions over the UK and them being denied. We understand the “non-acceptance of diverts” policy is in place for EGGW/Luton, EGSS/Stansted and even as far away as EGHH/Bournemouth. It is important to note however that if you declare an emergency (PAN/MAYDAY) – then all bets are off and you can divert wherever you like.

This week we saw EGGW/Luton go as far as publishing a NOTAM to that effect.

A2663/18 – DIVERTS SHALL ONLY BE ACCEPTED FOR ACFT THAT HAVE DECLARED AN  EMERGENCY.

So what’s going on?

We understand it’s a mix of things.

  1. With the heavy summer traffic situation all across London (which is being compounded by the various curfew and overnight flight limitations) it seems that the major airports don’t want an aircraft landing and disabling their runway.
  2. We have heard specific concerns stating that there is nowhere to park overflow aircraft. One aircraft might be manageable but multiple during peak disruption maybe not so easy.
  3. Some Opsgroup members have reported that the main driver of this policy at EGGW/Luton and EGSS/Stansted may be down to ‘their fear of adverse publicity on social media’ regarding aircraft sitting there waiting to go somewhere else and passengers tweeting away the problems with the airport and its facilities.
  4. Luton also put forward the argument that they do not want to interrupt the home-based operators by allowing other operators in. However, at the same time they are automatically denying home-based operators a diversion unless you declare an emergency.
  5. Border Control has also bought into the argument, especially at EGSS/Stansted, saying their manning levels can’t cope with an influx of extra passengers at short notice.

There are a whole host of other factors at play which make diversions in the London area a headache, particularly at night time. Opsgroup member Diego Magrini from Jet Concierge Club sums it up nicely:

“Minor airports close early in the evening, for example EGSC/Cambridge, EGTK/Oxford, EGLF/Farnborough, EGWU/Northolt. These would all be very good alternatives, but become unavailable pretty early. Let’s be honest: no business jet want to divert to EGLL/Heathrow or EGKK/Gatwick (costs, slots, friendliness, etc), and most cannot go to EGLC/London City due to training and approval. This is of course on top of Heathrow and Gatwick not accepting diversions most of the time, or not having slots available. Some airports outside London, although open and accepting traffic, do not have an FBO presence during the night, and this cannot be arranged at short notice for a diversion. Combining all of this in the very short timeframe of a diversion can be very tricky!”


There is a cool video that shows just how busy London does get on any given day….

If you have any further knowledge or recent experience to share, please let us know!

Extra Reading

Dubai to London – which way is best?

In Short: Two main options, via Saudi and Egypt (safer, cheaper but longer) or via Iran and Turkey (shorter, busier and geo-politically more unstable). It’s a complicated planning climate at present. Review regularly based on latest risk factors.   

There are more business aviation operators flying between the Middle East and Europe than ever before. So we took the time to look over the route options between the two regions. For our example we will be using a flight from Dubai to London, but similar operational considerations are valid for the plethora of route combinations through this whole region.

Firstly, we are sure you are a frequent visitor to our safe airspace website. Updated all the time with the latest notes and risk recommendations based on the latest intel. So, first things first, we want to avoid Syria, Libya and the Sinai Peninsula. As you can see however, this is a complicated geo-political region for flight planning. The direct great circle route would take us through Syria and would be around 3125nm. But that isn’t going to work. So, what else we got?

We will look at the two ways to head over the region. One is via Iran, Turkey and onwards to Europe. The other over Saudi Arabia and Egypt towards Europe.

Option 1: Iran/Turkey

Safety: Both Iran and Turkey are FSB Risk Level: Three – Caution. Iran is involved in the ongoing conflict with Syria and several Russian missiles crossed the Tehran FIR and several busy international routes. There are also increased tensions between the USA and Iran at present – if you had to divert in an N-reg aircraft, Iran would not be the friendliest of places to do so. Turkey borders with Syria and we have received multiple reports of GPS interference in the area.

Distance: an extra 100nm.

Time: About 15 minutes longer than great circle route.

Ease and Cost: Iran has higher overflight costs and for US based operators a reminder of the sanctions for dealing directly with Iran, or agencies in Iran. You’ll want to use an approved agent if you’re from the US (i.e.–not an Iranian company). Iran doesn’t work on Fridays, so be aware there. Turkish overflight costs are reasonable and remember that Turkish authorities require the use of an agent to apply for permits.

Traffic: The biggest issue with this route is that everyone is using it! It’s congested with a lot of airline traffic. It’s a major corridor for Asia-Europe flights also. So, getting the levels you want, and off route deviations are more complicated. Things get busy, as you can see!

Option 2: Saudi/Egypt

Safety: In terms of airspace warnings and risk, this route is slightly better. We have rated Saudi and Egypt airspace as FSB Risk Level: Two – Assessed Risk. Beyond the Sinai Peninsula and the Saudi/Yemen border, generally there is less of a chance of airspace security risks at present.

Distance: An extra 300nm from the great circle.

Time: Around 45 minutes longer.

Ease and Cost: Saudi and Egyptian airspace are generally a cheaper option ($1,000USD+). In Egypt, by law you have to get your permit through an Egyptian agent, but it’s a straight forward process. In Saudi, again, using an agent is best; they normally have three-day lead time – so keep that in mind. Also remember that the CAA only work Sun-Wed during office hours.

Traffic: For most of the day, much less of a traffic bottle neck.


Bottom line

Of the two options, routing via Saudi/Egypt is cheaper, and safer (as long as you steer clear of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsular and Saudi’s border with Yemen), but it’s going to take slightly longer.

What about Iraq?

We don’t think it’s a good idea. There’s a lot of information out there saying certain airways are ok but only at higher levels. But if you needed to get down fast, or even make an unexpected landing, Iraq isn’t the place you would want to go at present. Treat with caution.

Which one is your favourite choice? Let us know!

Further reading:

Just about nowhere to land in London at night this summer

Jet noise! It seems that Londoners are sick of it. Corporate operators watch out; London basin airports of EGGW/Luton, EGSS/Stansted, EGKK/Gatwick, EGLL/Heathrow, EGKB/Biggin Hill, EGWU/Northolt, EGLF/Farnborough and EGTK/Oxford airports are now effectively closed or restricted for overnight flights.

EGGW/Luton is the biggest hit with a curfew this summer: from 1 June to 30 September, arrivals/departures will be prohibited between 23-7 local time each night.

Over at EGSS/Stansted, where local authorities have already reduced the number of night-time slots for GA/BA to just 10 per week, new noise restrictions have also been introduced which mean that aircraft rated above QC1 are unlikely to receive slot approval at all during the night period:

Who’s to blame?

Local airlines, mainly the low-cost ones. Late arrivals have used up much of the cumulative noise footprint at both airports.

So, what’s left?
  • EGMC/Southend (40 miles away) & EGBB/Birmingham (115 miles away) are the only airports with no restrictions (thus far).
  • EGLL/Heathrow & EGGK/Gatwick: Pretty much a no-go zone for business aviation these days
  • EGLC/London City: closed from 1030pm to 0630am
  • EGWU/Northolt: closed from 8pm to 8am on weekdays
  • EGLF/Farnborough: closed from 10pm to 7am on weekdays
  • EGKB/Biggin Hill: closed from 11pm to 6.30am on weekdays, and 10pm to 8am on weekends
Who’s most affected?

Transatlantic crossings that plan to arrive in London late at night (after a morning departure from the US) or late-night London departures. Plan ahead and speak with your FBO so you don’t get stuck in a noisy bind.

Extra Reading:
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