Flights into Heathrow Airport Circle Too Long before Landing

Flights into London Heathrow airport are being stacked, or made to circle for long periods before landing, according to the findings of a report.

NATS, a UK based company that provides air traffic services and solutions, has reported that in 2010, around 120,425 of 224,497 incoming flights at Heathrow airport were held in a stack, compared to 16,541 out of 120,250 incoming flights at London Gatwick Airport, and 3,786 of 77,570 incoming flights at London Stansted Airport, during the same period.

According to NATS, such stacking delays not only create operational difficulties, but also cause escalating environmental damage. At London Heathrow, around 91.4 percent of total carbon emissions in 2010 was due to aircraft stacking, for a total of 277,900 tonnes of emissions.

A spokesman from the British Association of Airline Pilots, said in an interview, ‘The amount of stacking at Heathrow is clearly a problem and is a symptom of the capacity constraints we have.

Not only is holding for extended periods around Heathrow annoying for passengers, a poor welcome to the UK and bad for business, it is also needlessly damaging for the environment.

One thing that may not be figured into official holding statistics is extended flight paths pilots have to sometimes fly after leaving the stack which can add another 30 miles of flying and additional time onto the approach.’

Aircraft are stacked for around 20 minutes on a normal day at Heathrow Airport, and 45 minutes on a day when the weather is bad.

Currently political leaders in the UK are divided on whether to introduce a new runway at London Heathrow Airport, to ease the present air traffic congestion.