London City Airport Consultative Committee

Airport Operations

Operational facilities and procedures



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On this Page:

Operations Control Centre

Ground Services

Flying Hours

Aircraft Maintenance

Terminal Opening Hours

Limitation on Movements
Permitted Aircraft

Other Regulatory Requirements

Slot Coordination
Operational Improvements Programme
Navigational Aids
Dealing with Snow and Ice
Air Traffic Control
Rescue and Firefighting Service
Bird Control

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Related Pages
About the Airport - Home Page (Alt+2)
Aeronautical Data (Alt+3)
Aircraft (Alt+4)
Air Traffic Control (Alt+5)
Corporate Aviation (Alt+6)
Fire and Rescue (Alt+7)
Operational Improvements (Alt+8)
Passengers (Alt+9)
Airport Safeguarding (Alt+0)


Ops Control CentreOperations Control Centre

THE Operations Control Centre at London City Airport is located close to the Air Traffic Control Tower and the Apron. The Centre's function is to establish, implement and monitor policies and regulations relating to the safe operation and handling of aircraft.

The Control Centre is a focal point for the collection and distribution of information such as flight times/plans and weather reports. Operations Controllers inspect the runway, taxiway and apron to ensure that they are clear and serviceable.  Controllers are often first on the scene of any airside incident or emergency.  This team is also responsible for Bird Control and they also maintain the airport's noise monitoring system.

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Ground Services

London City employs its own Ground Services Agents' to handle the following range of duties:

  • Baggage sortingTug
  • Baggage security
  • Aircraft loading/unloading
  • Snow clearance
  • Driving baggage delivery to aircraft
  • Operating Specialised Equipment

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Flying Hours

THE Airport is permitted to operate flights during the following hours: 

  • Between 06.30 and 22.00 hours on weekdays
  • Between 06.30 and 12.30 hours on Saturdays
  • Between 12.30 and 22.00 on Sundays.
  • Between 09.00 and 22.00 hours on Bank Holidays

Only six aircraft movements are permitted between 06.30 and 06.59 hours with only two movements allowed between 06.30 and 06.45). The Airport is closed to flights on Christmas Day.

There are exemptions for aircraft using the Airport in an emergency and aircraft are permitted to take off or land during the period of 30 minutes after the Airport closes for traffic where they have suffered unavoidable operational delays. These flights must not exceed 400 in any calendar year or 150 in any consecutive period of three months.

These restrictions on the hours of flight operations refer to "aircraft movements", i.e. the take-off or landing of an aircraft at the Airport except those engaged in training or aircraft testing. In fact the Airport cannot be used for training or test flying except where this is essential for the safe operation of aircraft authorised to use the Airport. These restrictions do not preclude the take off and/or landing of an authorised aircraft where such training or test flying is carried out elsewhere. Neither do they prevent monitored trial flights taking place for the purposes of Aircraft Categorisation.

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Aircraft Maintenance

No aircraft maintenance or repair work is allowed at the Airport except during the flying hours described above. Work is permitted outside these hours only where any noise generated cannot be discerned at the the boundaries of the Airport.

There are restrictions on the ground running of engines which must not exceed the equivalent of 60 dB LAeqT as measured outside and at 1 metre from any residential property in the area. The approved location for ground running is the eastern end of the apron extension overlooking the King George V Dock - see plan. Each year the Airport is expected to report the number, duration and power settings of each instance of ground running in the previous calendar year along with measurements and calculations to show whether the ground running noise limit has been exceeded. Where the limit has been exceeded the Airport is expected to suggest remedial measures and also from time to time suggest changes to the place where ground running is carried out.

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Terminal Opening Hours

The Terminal is currently open during the following periods:

  • Mondays to Fridays: 05.30 hours to 21.30 hours
  • Saturdays: 05.30 hours to 12.30 hours
  • Sundays: 11.00 hours to 21.30 hours

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Limitation on Aircraft Movements

THE planning regime also places restrictions on the number of aircraft movements. According to the 2009 planning approval the maximum permitted numbers of aircraft movements are as follows:

  • 100 per day on Saturdays and 200 per day on Sundays but not exceeding 280 on any consecutive Saturday and Sunday<
  • 592 on other days except 1 January, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day Holiday, late May Bank Holiday, late August Bank Holiday, 25 December and 26 December
  • 132 on 1 January
  • 164 on Good Friday
  • 198 on Easter Monday,
  • 248 on the May Day Holiday
  • 230 on the late May Bank Holiday and the late August Bank Holiday Apron Lineup
  • 100 on 26 December
  • 330 on any other Bank Holiday which may be proclaimed (but up to 396 with the consent of the local planning authority)
  • 120,000 per calendar year

In calculating the number of aircraft movements account is taken of the category of the aircraft and its noise factor - see the Noise Page. Thus, aircraft movements by aircraft in:

  • Category A count as 1.26 aircraft movements
  • Category B count as 0.63 aircraft movements
  • Category C count as 0.31 aircraft movements
  • Category D count as 0.16 aircraft movements
  • Category E count as 0.08 aircraft movements

These are called factored movements. The number of factored movements must not exceed 25% of the permitted number of movements in any one week or 120,000 per calendar year. Here are the noise factors of the most common aircraft using the Airport:


Types of Aircraft

A Airbus 318, BAe 146, Avro RJ85, Canadair CL60, Embraer 135,Embraer 170, Embraer 190, Fokker 70, Dassault Falcon (all types), Dornier 328 Jet, DHC 6, Embraer 135*, Piper Navajo and Cessna Citation (all types)
B ATR 42, Fokker 50, DHC-8, Dornier 328, Saab 340, Piper Navajo 31, Piper Seneca 34, Beech 90 & B200, Mitsubishi MU2.
C Saab 2000, Shorts 360
D Dornier 228, DHC-7

* Provisional

By January 2011 there is to be a review of Aircraft Categorisation. The results of the Review will be implemented within three months of approval by the local planning authority or, if later, on the date the new Noise Monitoring and Mitigation Strategy (NOMMS) comes fully into operation.

Monthly statistics showing the total number of aircraft movements and passengers are published each month on our Statistics Page. The Airport also maintains a record of the numbers and types of aircraft using the airport the Airport each day. A summary of these figures will also be published quarterly on our Statistics Page .

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Permitted Aircraft

ALL aircraft using the Airport must be of an approved type. To qualify for approval an aircraft must fit into one of the above noise categories and be capable of making an approach at 5.5 degrees or steeper (this compares with 3 degrees at most other airports). Helicopters and other vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, and aircraft with a single engine, are prohibited and flying for club or leisure purposes is not permitted. Type approval is given by the Airport's Operations and Control Department:

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7646 0241
Fax: +44 (0)20 7511 0248
E -mail:

Check with them for types already approved or to obtain new approvals.  There is a current (October 2003) list of approved types on our Aircraft page along with brief details of the main airline types currently using the Airport and hyperlinks the to the web sites of the manufacturers.

All pilots must hold a Commercial or Air Transport Pilots Licence and have completed at least three approaches at 5.5 degrees or steeper.


The Runway 2008Other Regulatory Requirements

MOST of the controls listed above are planning requirements.   The Airport is also subject to the ordinary regulatory requirements  relating to UK Airports administered by the Department of Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority. For information about the DfT's role in aviation visit the aviation pages on their website. This inludes a link to the Direct Gov website which includes information on airport security. Similarly, details of many of the controls administered by the CAA can be accessed via their website.

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THE runway, at 17 feet above mean sea level, is constructed of concrete.  In 2002 a scheme to reconfigure the runway was carried out including the widening of the original  "starter" strips to full runway width and replacing the original arrester beds with high friction Runway End Safety Areas. As a result there is now a paved area of 1508m x 30m (5184ft x 98ft) plus turning areas at each end.  Within this is the runway with the following  "declared distances":

Source UK AIP

Runway Designator
* see below
Take-off Run Available
Take-off Distance Available
Accelerate-Stop Distance Available
Landing Distance Available
09 1199 metres
(3934 feet)
1319 metres
(4327 feet)
1319 metres
(4327 feet)
1319 metres
(4327 feet)
27 1199 metres
(3934 feet)
1385 metres
(4544 feet)
1319 metres
(4327 feet)
1319 metres
(4327 feet)

* For aircraft taking off/approaching from the east the runway is designated Runway 27 after the heading on which approaching aircraft will fly to the runway threshold (the bearing is actually 272.9 degrees magnetic). For aircraft using the runway from the west the runway is designated Runway 09 after the reciprocal heading of 92.89 degrees magnetic. The bearings are as at 2nd July 2009 - the magnetic direction (or bearing) of a fixed object like a runway is constantly on the move. The amount of annual change will depend on where in the world it is located. In the UK there is a small annual change moving west.

Click the thumbnail  to see an outline (.pdf - 143k) of the runway and the Airport's other facilities - for more detailed information for navigation or other purposes please see the UK AIP Aerodrome Map obtainable via our Aeronautical Data Page.

There is high intensity approach lighting in both directions comprising a centre line with two crossbars. This is starts at 401 metres (1316 feet) from Runway 10 and 462 metres (1516 feet) from Runway 28.  There is is also threshold, runway end and runway edge lighting.

Runway Holding Point - completed 2003There is no parallel taxiway and aircraft arriving/departing have to "backtrack" on the runway to take-off/taxi to the apron. Until the summer of 2003 this had the effect of limiting the number of arrivals and departures to about 20 per hour per hour depending on the weather and other circumstances. The attached usage chart illustrates the hour by hour use of the runway on weekdays during the winter of 1999. It will be seen that there was pressure on the use of the runway in the peak periods.  To help deal with this the Airport, as part of its Operational Improvements Programme, has constructed a holding point for three aircraft at the eastern end of the runway by building out southwards over the King George V dock for a short distance. Completed in September 2003 this facility allows for improved handling efficiency, especially in the peak hours. It is also expected to reduce the impact of ATC delays in that it provides space for aircraft using Runway 28 to wait for ATC clearances without sterilising the runway for take-offs and landings by other aircraft. It is thus expected to reduce substantially the number of "go-arounds" by landing aircraft approaching Runway 28.[Video clip of Runway Hold in use - wmv file 1.8mb]

In another move to help maximise the use of the runway the ATC in the Summer of 2005 introduced Ground Movement Control (GMC). Coupled with the new holding point this allowed an increase in the the sustained rate of aircraft movements to 32 per hour.

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StandsThe Airport’s apron 2008

THERE are seventeen stands for aircraft on the apron, ten original with three more provided when the western apron was reconfigured in 2002 and another four on the completion of the East Apron Extension in 2008. In addition there are stands at the Jet Centre for corporate aircraft.  Click the thumbnail (left) to see a plan (.pdf - 34k) of the apron and the location of the stands.  The stands are all "self- manoeuvring"- pilots steer their aircraft on to the appropriate stand lead-in line (as directed by ATC) from where they are directed by marshallers who turn the aircraft so that it is ready to taxi out for departure. There is thus no requirement for "push back" tractors as at many other airports.

The contract for the East Apron Extension, worth £19m, was awarded to support services and construction company Carillion in the Spring of 2007. The contract was for the construction of a 20,000 square metre concrete platform, supported by piles and built over the King George V Dock to the east of the existing terminal.  In addition, a there would be sound screen to minimise noise impact of aircraft operations on neighbouring houses.  Construction started in June 2007 and the new stands are now in service.

There is on YouTube speeded up footage which shows activity on the main apron at the Airport over a period of an hour - click here

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Slot Coordination

The Airport is designated as a Schedules Facilitated (Level 2) airport in accordance with the IATA Worldwide Scheduling Guidelines and the EC and UK Slot Allocation Regulations . The Airport employs Airport Coordination Limited to provide schedule coordination services and they have an on-site Coordinator.

In February 2009 the Department for Transport asked the Consultative Committee for its views on whether the Airport should be designated as 'coordinated' (Level 1) and, if so, whether the Secretary of State should approve the appointment of Airport Coordination Limited (ACL) as the coordinator. The matter was considered by the Consultative Committee at its April 2009 meeting following which the Committee wrote to the Department saying it was in favour of the proposal that the Airport should be designated as 'coordinated' by the Secretary of State for the purposes of the EC and UK Slot Allocation Regulations and that the Committee agreed with the proposed appointment of Airport Coordination Limited (ACL) as the coordinator. It was noted that ACL was already operating at the Airport on scheduling matters. 

Subsequently, having considered a Capacity Analysis reflecting actual demand at the airport in January and February 2009 and the latest prospects for the summer 2009 season, the Department wrote saying they were looking again at this proposals in the light of the updated figures which showed that the Airport was now expected to operate over the Summer of 2009 with a margin of spare capacity.  On this basis it was thought the case for Level 3 Coordination to be imposed immediately was materially weakened.

On 18th May 2009 the Committee wrote to the Dpartment noting its continued support for the proposal that LCY should be designated as "coordinated" (Level 3) for the purposes of the slot allocation regulations, not least because it would help to ensure any new limit on the number of flights. However, it was recognised that the latest figures did not support the designation of the Airport at Level 3 at that stage and accordingly that a delay in the introduction of the measure was necessary and justified. Against this background the designation of the Airport at Level 2 seemed to be the right answer for the time being.

On 14th July 2009 the Comittee was notified that the Secretary of State for Transport had decided that the Airport should be designated as coordinated under the EC and UK Airports Slot Allocation Regulations starting with the Winter 2009 scheduling season. And the Secretary of State had also approved the appointment of Airport Coordination Limited (ACL) as coordinator at London City Airport.

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Operational Improvements Programme

THIS Programme of improvements aimed to allow the Airport to deal efficiently with the growth in traffic up to the level approved in the 1998 planning permission.  Full details of the programme are on our OIP Page.

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ILS Localiser - Runawy 10Navigational Aids

- see Map (142kb)

THE Airport is equipped with the Instrument Landing System (ILS) on both runways. The ILS is a radio system which transmits two beams, the localiser and the glide path. The localiser beam defines the centre line of the runway and extends along the approach path for 20 miles. The glide path beam defines the angle or glide slope at which aircraft should fly while following the localiser course to approach the runway, safely clearing all obstacles.

Linked to the ILS is Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) located at the mid  point along the runway.ILS Glideslope - Runway 10 This equipment gives a continuous readout to approaching pilots showing the distance to the runway threshold. This is achieved by the aircraft "interrogating" the ground equipment which, after a fixed delay, replies to the aircraft. Knowing the delay between transmissions and the reply, the equipment in the aircraft calculates the distance and displays it on the flight deck.

There are also PAPI lights (Precision Approach Path Indicators) which gives pilots a visual indication whether the aircraft is above, below or "on" the  prescribed glide slope. Both the ILS and the PAPIs are set at 5.5 degrees. his compares with 3 degrees at conventional airports.

Transmissometer - for measuring visiblityThe Airport also has a Non-directional Beacon (NDB) to which pilots can steer using ADF (Automatic Direction Finding) equipment.

Weather information is continually broadcast to pilots using Airport Terminal Information Service (ATIS) equipment and the Airport has special equipment, known as a transmissometer, for measuring  visibility. 

Although it is uncategorised, London City conforms to the requirements of a Category One airfield.

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Dealing Snow and Ice

A snowy day at LCY

THE Airport has three de-icing rigs for aircraft and one for the runway. There are two runway snow clearing vehicles.

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Air Traffic Control

THE Airport's Air Traffic Control (ATC) services are provided by the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) under contract. There is a staff of 11 controllers and four engineers who work in two shifts. The team is also responsible for the maintenance of the Airport's air navigation systems. For more detailed information visit our ATC and Aeronautical Data pages. 


Rescue and Fire Fighting Service

THE Airport's Fire and Rescue Service is fully equipped to provide an immediate response to an aircraft accident or incident. Visit our Fire & Rescue Page for more information.


Bird ControlBird Control

AIRPORTS often have favourable conditions for flocks of birds and this is particularly true at London City Airport because of the proximity of the Docks. This has implications for air safety which give rise to a need for bird control.

The Airport has a dedicated Bird Control Unit (BCU) controlled by Airfield Operations. The Unit's main task is to carry out constant inspections of the airfield during the Airport's operational hours for any signs of birds flocking either on the ground or in the air. The Unit patrols the airfield in an off-road vehicle with the call sign Ops 6.  The most problematic bird species include Feral Pigeons, Black Headed Gulls, Terns, Cormorants, Mute Swans and Lapwings.

The BCU uses a variety of methods and equipment to scare birds away from the airfield and in particular those critical areas where birds may endanger a departing or arriving aircraft. This variety is essential to ensure that the flocking birds do not become complacent and accustomed to the scaring methods. Methods include the Digi-Scare, which simulates the distress call of a bird caught by a predator, thus scaring other birds away. This is generally the most efficient method. The Vari Pistol, which uses shell crackers to disperse a large flock of birds, is also an effective method as well as firing rockets, similar to fireworks, for birds thermaling on warm currents of air.

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Bird ScaringSometimes the simplest methods are the most effective, such as a person standing on a vehicle and waving their arms up and down, preferably with the sun behind them. It has been suggested that this method works because it simulates a large bird of prey, which then scares the flocks away.

General habitat management is also important in deterring flocks of birds from settling at the airport. This includes the maintenance of the grass by ensuring that it is kept to an appropriate height as well as using weed killer to kill the plants on which birds may feed. However, the height of the grass may easily be affected by long periods of sunshine or rain and so constant monitoring is needed. Inspection of the surrounding area ensures that the habitat is made unfavourable for birds, thus preventing roosting. 

Other methods at the Airport have included the use of Harris Hawks by an experienced falconer to scare away Black Headed Gulls. During August and September the birds eat the fish fry in the docks and so dispersal cartridges are fired into the docks to scare the fish away. Maintenance of the Airport is essential to prevent the birds in the docks being fed by passengers as well as securing the safe and tidy disposal of catering rubbish.

All bird activity for the day is recorded in a log, which is then compiled into statistics on a monthly basis which are audited annually by the CAA, Safety Regulation Group.

On our Airport Safeguarding page is a May 2007 consultant report on bird hazards to aircraft using the Airport.

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Police CarPolicing

Since September 2004 the policing of the Airport has been provided by SO18 Branch of the Metropolitan Police which is responsible for airport security at both Heathrow and London City. The unit responsible for London City, which includes both armed officers and comminity support officers, operates from North Woolwich Police Station which was specially upgraded to provide a reporting base and an armoury for their use. A representative of the unit attends meetings of the Consultative Committee as an observer.

Airport security and policing have been issues for debate since 2002 when Sir John Wheeler was commissioned to carry out a Review of Airport Security. For more information visit the website of the Liaison Group of Airport Consultative Committees.

It will be noted that one of the issues for discussion as part of the Review ws the cost of Airport policing where there are perceived inequities arising from the "designation" of some, but not all, airports under section 25 of the Aviation Security Act 1982. At it's meeting in January 2007 the Consultative Committee heard that the Metropolitan Police Authority had written to the Secretary of State for Transport, seeking the designation of London City Airport under these powers. This would mean that the owners would pay the policing bill instead of taxpayers as at present. The Airport commented that the Secretary of State had said he would not be designating any more airports under the present arrangements which had been under review for some time. The Airport was sharing in the review process through the Airport Operators Association (AOA) but meanwhile it had rejected a request from the Metropolitan Police that it should make a voluntary contribution towards policing costs not least because the amount involved would have been four times the amount payable per passenger at Heathrow - a designated airport.

The recommendations of the Review Team, and the subsequent consultations thereon, can be seen on the website of the Liaison Group of Airport Consultative Committees. On 3rd December 2008 the Government announced that it would be introducing legislation in the Policing and Crime Bill which, as recommended by the Review team, would:

    • Enhance inter-agency co-operation in establishing airport security arrangements with greater clarity of roles and responsibilities;
    • Introduce a systematic regular assessment of how threats to airports are being mitigated;
    • Enhance airport security  planning at UK airports both locally and nationally as Airport Security Plans will help ensure more effective deployment of resources to mitigate threats;
    • Bring in a consistent funding process for dedicated police activities at airports that ensures police authorities are reimbursed by airport operators for agreed dedicated policing costs, in turn benefiting the taxpayer.

    The Bill received the Royal Assent on 12th November 2009 and the provsions relating to the policing of Airports came into force on 29th January 2010 (SI 2010/125)

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An independent Consultative Committee established by London City Airport pursuant to Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982
John Adshead     Secretary: Stuart Innes

Page last modified: 17 February 2012