Director of Civil Aviation: 1937 terminal not a safety threat but will cause delays
JERSEY’S 1937 airport terminal poses no safety threat to the public as the airport is currently operated, the director of Civil Aviation has said.
But Dominic Lazarus has warned that, as new infra-red landing technology is more widely used, the airport will be subject to increased delays in bad weather unless the building is removed.
Mr Lazarus was responding to questions about a recent report, commissioned by Save Jersey’s Heritage, which cast doubt on the safety arguments used to justify demolition of the historic building six years ago.
Permission was finally granted to remove the building although the Planning Department had recognised that ‘under normal circumstances the demolition of such an important building would not be countenanced’.
The redevelopment of the airport and the original decision to grant permission to demolish the 1937 building are now the subject of reviews, following a States decision last week.
Before the debate Mr Lazarus wrote to the Environment Minister John Young to reaffirm his support for removing the building. He did not mention the report which was carried out by aviation consultants Aeronautical Services and Procedures .
However, Mr Lazarus said that he had no issue with its contents as they dealt with aircraft landing limits but said that the issue today lay with aircraft manoeuvring on the ground in bad weather.
‘My concern is that, moving ahead, the technology is improving all the time and in the next 12 months we’ll see some of this technology being used coming in to Jersey in lower visibility. In the next generation we’re going to see aircraft which can operate in pretty much any weather and where we are at the moment would cause huge inefficiencies at the Airport,’ Mr Lazarus said.
Much of the case put to the former Environment Minister Rob Duhamel by Jersey Airport concerned the need to impose lower decision heights for landing aircraft – potentially causing more passenger delays – because of the position of the old terminal building but ASAP concluded that these would have been unnecessary.
Accepting those findings, Mr Lazarus explained that his concern related to the proximity of the taxiway to the runway, which require aircraft to be kept away from the taxiway in bad weather while the runway was in use, another source of potential delay.
‘You can have a non-compliance as long as you mitigate against it and that’s what’s happened over the last ten years. In good weather it is not a problem. It’s not ideal and ultimately one must react to it but we’ve mitigated against it,’ he said.
Similar restrictions apply at London City airport where the runway is closer to the taxiway. Mr Lazarus said that he expected similar problems there in the future as improved landing technology is adopted.
He said that he was confident that the domestic airline market would improve over the next 12 months with an expansion of services by Aurigny and Blue Islands and by smaller UK airlines to take up some of the routes which Flybe used to operate.
Asked about the case made in 2014 to demolish the 1937 building, Mr Lazarus pointed out that his involvement as regulator only related to the last two years and that he had now reviewed the position.
‘I stand by my review and it’s up to the relevant parties to discuss that and it’s not up to me to make the call either way.
‘It is about understanding what is there and ultimately what is best for Jersey. I look at that and the efficiency of the airport and safety, and that’s all I can look at. I can’t get involved in what’s right and what’s wrong, what should be and what shouldn’t be. I just give a view,’ Mr Lazarus said.
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