Lower Withington Parish Council has, this afternoon (19/10/21), received the following update from Manchester Airport:
The Non-Standard Departures we have experienced in October
To maintain operations in a safe manner colleagues in NATS Engineering regularly test and calibrate navigational aids here in Manchester and across the UK. The Manchester Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Radio Range and Distance Measuring Equipment (MCT VOR/DME) failed, and technicians are working to repair the fault. Sadly, although after a days work (Monday) the navigation aid was returned to service it later failed again. We believe the unit will return to operation today (Tuesday).
Without this navigational equipment aircraft are unable to fly the standard Preferred Noise Routes on departure. Aircraft are instead being given Non-Standard Departures. Aircraft are therefore in locations that would not normally experience such intense activity.
Non-Standard Departure Instructions are set aside for times when it is not possible and/or safe for aircraft to fly Standard Instrument Departures. Manchester Airport, like other large airports, reverts to Non-Standard Departure Instructions when the navigational aids required to fly Preferred Noise Routes are not available. Please see the Data Sheet on Non-Standard Departures. We appreciate that the current situation is frustrating for all and we know our colleagues in NATS are working hard to return ‘normality’ to our operations.
The Manchester Airport Future Airspace project
The October disruption to usual operations has no relation to the Manchester Airport Future Airspace project, except that future arrivals and departures routes will not be based on ground based navigational aids. The airspace process that we, and other airports are following, was introduced in 2017 (and was last amended in March 2021) and is set out in a document called CAP1616 that is published online. CAP 1616 has seven-stages, fourteen steps and four ‘Gateways’. At each ‘Gateway’ we need to ‘show our working’ to the CAA and require their ascent to pass through and on to the next Stage. We are now working on Stage 2 of the seven-stage, fourteen step, Airspace Change process. At this stage, a comprehensive list of route design options will be produced, developed through reference to the design principles that were agreed through stakeholder engagement at Stage1. For more information about the programme and Stage 2, please watch our short video here or visit our web pages.