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Collision threat

Until retirement in 1997, I was BAA facilities planning director and was responsible for the planning of T5 from 1988. As part of that role my team looked at the likelihood of another runway between the M4 and the A4.

We judged the risk of air collision to be so difficult to gauge that it would not be possible to say in the witness box that we had proved the level of safety to be acceptable.

However, some points that should be considered include:

- the two main runways are operating at the maximum of achievable capacity.

- for take-offs to the west, many short-haul aircraft veer to the south for Europe, while large numbers of the heavy long-haul aircraft turn north for the Great-Circle routes.

- crossing conflicts of the aircraft take-off movements using the current runways would be considerable if the construction of a short-haul runway is to occur north of the airport.

To pay-back it would have to be run at capacity during peak hours. I have stood back from prompting the current professionals in the belief that the obvious must be under assessment.

In all the promotion for this runway, however, I have not seen that the above issue has been touched. It is to be hoped that dictating fundamentals in major project proposals are given proper credence before letting loose potentially unrealisable dreams in the public arena. I will be interested to hear if I need to stand corrected on these observations.

HENRI PAGEOT (F), pageot@hotmail.co.uk

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