London City Airport Consultative Committee

Air Traffic Control

Describes the arrangements made at London City Airport for air traffic control

 

 

 

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The National Air Traffic Services
Control Zone
Radar
Tower
Standard Instrument Departures
Standard Arrival Routes
London Airspace Management Programme - Airspace Change Proposals
Noise Abatement
En Route
Heathrow Traffic

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There is more detailed information about the Airport, and Charts, in the UK-AIP available via the Aeronautical Data page.

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The National Air Traffic Services

THE Airport's Air Traffic Control (ATC) services are provided by NATS, the UK’s largest air navigation service provider, under contract. The General Manager, Roger Marsh, has a staff of 12 controllers, four Watch Managers and four engineers who work in two shifts. The team is also responsible for the maintenance of the Airport's air navigation systems. . Click here for more about NATS..

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Control Zone

THE Airport is protected by a control zone (CTR), a control area (CTA) and by a circular aerodrome traffic zone (ATZ) with a radius of two nautical miles from the Airport. The CTR/CTA, which operates during the Airport's normal operational hours, extends vertically from surface level to 2,500 feet where it abuts the London Terminal Manoeuvring Area (LTMA). Only aircraft operating under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) are permitted to fly in these areas although in the case of the CTR/CTA other flights may also be given a special clearance by ATC to do so. Aircraft operating under IFR do so under radar control and pilots must hold an instrument rating. The UK Aeronautical Information Publication gives full details of the control regime .

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Radar

THE Airport's approach radar service is provided by the London Terminal Control Centre, another NATS unit located at Swanwick, near Fareham in Hampshire. There are three radar positions available: Thames Radar and City Radar are responsible for all the IFR traffic inbound and outbound from London City, plus radar services for smaller units in the area such as Biggin Hill. Heathrow Radar is another position that primarily deals with low level (<2500ft) VFR/SVFR traffic within the London and London City control zones. The latter can, at times, be incredibly busy due to the amount of traffic wishing to transit London. This can include helicopter pleasure flights, news helicopters, survey flights, military and most commonly the Police and medical helicopter services.

The Thames/City Radar controllers work in close liaison with the controllers in the Tower and with the LTMA controllers. Depending on local traffic, the Tower might by-pass Thames Radar and transfer departures directly to the appropriate LTMA controller.

During quieter periods, these radar positions can be ‘band-boxed’, meaning that one controller is responsible for all three positions

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Tower

From the Visual Control Room in the Tower the controllers at the Airport control ground movements and supervise the arrival and departure of aircraft in close liaison with Thames/City Radar..Visual Control Room

Although control from the Tower is performed visually, the controllers have the assistance of an Aerodrome Traffic Monitor, a radar display showing aircraft in the vicinity of the Airport.
There are two Control positions within the tower:

  • City Tower is responsible for all aircraft taxiing, taking off and landing, and flying within close proximity of the airfield. This can include non-LCY traffic that may be transiting the airspace if it is deemed to be a potential confliction. It is the controller’s responsibility for closely monitoring aircraft and ensuring that they remain separated.

  • City Ground is responsible for issuing ATC clearances to departing aircraft and managing traffic flow on the airfield by regulating aircraft start times. This ensures a minimum taxi time for aircraft and results in lower noise and emissions

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Standard Instrument Departures

AIRCRAFT are invariably cleared to depart from the Airport according to one of a number of Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs). These are determined by the CAA. They are designed to avoid conflicts with aircraft arriving at, or departing from, the other London airports. All such departures from London City are routed initially to the north-east. Having departed on a SID, aircraft can be released from it to fly on radar vectors. They may thus be cleared to fly at higher levels than those prescribed by the SID or they may be routed either to avoid other traffic or onto a more direct track.

Hitherto SIDs have been based on a network of directional beacons (VORs) with Distance measuring Equipment (DME) but increasingly they are being drawn up to take up the Area Navigation (RNAV) capability with which aircraft are now being equipped.

Full details of the Airport's SIDs are available via the Aeronautical Data page

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Standard Arrival RoutesVCR (2)

THE routes prescribed for the arrival of aircraft at London City are published by the CAA as a series of Standard Arrival Routes (STARs). These are focused on the holding points ("stacks") at ALKIN, located over the M25 just east of Swanley, and SPEAR, located at Southend.

From ALKIN/SPEAR there are prescribed instrument approach routes to the Airport although, again, aircraft are more often than not directed by radar vectors.

Full details of the Airport's STARS, and the instrument approach routes, are available via theAeronautical Data page.

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London Airspace Management Programme - Airspace Change Proposals

To ensure that aviation across the UK is as efficient as possible, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has been working with the aviation industry to develop the Future Airspace Strategy (FAS), a blueprint for modernising the UK’s airspace. Implementing FAS requires changes both at low altitudes in the vicinity of airports and at higher altitudes where NATS provides the UK’s nationwide air traffic service.  For this reason NATS is collaborating with individual airports on a programme of modernisation centred on London’s airports and the surrounding airspace out to the southern and eastern coasts and as far north/west as the Midlands.  This plan is referred to as the London Airspace Management Programme (LAMP).

LAMP is a once in a lifetime opportunity to modernise the airspace over London, and NATS, in conjunction with London City Airport, is focused on making best use of the existing airport infrastructure. More information will be available in the near future as the project gains momentum.

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Noise Abatement

Visual Control Room

THE rules for pilots using the Airport incorporate a number of measures to minimise noise:

  • Noise abatement procedures for aircraft departing from the Airport and joining controlled airspace are included in the Standard Instrument Departure (SID) instructions.

  • Aircraft departing on other routes, or on training flights within the City CTR, must climb straight ahead to a minimum of 1000 ft before turning on track unless otherwise instructed by ATC.

  • Aircraft making approaches to the Airport without assistance from the ILS must follow a descent path which will not result in its being at any time lower than the approach path that would be followed by an aircraft using the ILS glide path.

  • Pilots of aircraft carrying out visual approaches to either runway must fly at a height of not less than 1500ft (1600ft on runway 09 due to the height of The Shard) until established on the final approach.

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En Route

BEYOND the LTMA aircraft are under the control of the en-route controllers at LATCC. These services are located in at the Swanwick Centre near Fareham in Hampshire

For more about the new centre visit the NATS web site

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Control room atr SwanwickHeathrow Traffic

Questions are often raised locally about aircraft bound for London Heathrow which regularly pass over the East End of London and are often mistaken for City traffic. 

While London City Airport is open for traffic the airspace up to 3000 feet is normally reserved for its traffic. This means that aircraft bound for Heathrow are usually held at 4000 feet or above. However, when London City is closed Heathrow traffic can be cleared to descend to 3000 feet. This might also occasionally happen during the London City 's operating hours with ATC co-ordination.

Generally the routing of aircraft over East London on the approach to Heathrow depends not on whether London City is operating but on the runway in use at Heathrow for landings and on the volume of traffic. Generally, as the volume of Heathrow traffic, bound for Runways 27L or 27R increases, the aircraft concerned are turned further east for the final approach.

 

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An independent Consultative Committee established by London City Airport pursuant to Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982
Chairman:
John Adshead     Secretary: Stuart Innes
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Page last modified: 2nd August 2013