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Solent Airport AGL: Frequently Asked Questions

Can flights be at any time during the night or is there a curfew restricting hours?

Condition 10 on the Outline Planning Permission for the airport (Reference P/11/0436/OA) restricts flights from the airport as follows:

The total number of aircraft movements at the site shall not exceed 40,000 per annum. With the exception of emergency related movements associated with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency Search and Rescue service which may operate 24 hours a day there shall be a maximum of 10 aircraft movements a day after sunset, with no aircraft movements between the hours of midnight and sunrise.

REASON: In order to safeguard the aviation operation of the airfield and the residential amenities of local residents and to ensure that the level of aircraft movements does not result in harm to the nature conservation interests of the nearby European Designated Sites in accordance with Policy CS12 of the Fareham Borough Core Strategy.

What is a movement?

 A movement is any aircraft landing or taking off from the airport.  Each landing or take off counts as a movement, so an aircraft taking off and then landing at the airport counts as two movements.

Can the restriction of 10 flights per night be increased after the AGL is installed?

The limit of 10 movements each day between sunset and midnight will remain as a condition of the Outline Planning Permission, approved in 2013.  Any change to this would require a decision from the Local Planning Authority.  The Council could apply for Condition 10 on the Outline Planning Permission, above, to be removed or amended.  There are no plans at the present time to do this.

Will the installation of runway lighting result in extended or amended airport operating hours?

Yes. It is proposed to extend the airport opening hours to 09.00 - 18.00 year-round. 

How many flights will there be between sunset and midnight and when will they take place?

The actual amount and timing of flights between sunset and midnight will depend upon the time of year, demand for flights and the availability of airport resources and is difficult to predict. 

Why are there flights outside of the airport's published operating hours now?

The airport published operating hours are:

Summer: 9 am – 6 pm and Winter 9am to sunset every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

However, the airport also opens to aircraft during daylight hours on request.

What is the demand for flying after dark from Solent Airport?

In 2021, the Council received support from the DfT's Airfield Development Advisory Fund (ADAF) to commission the global consultancy services company and aviation specialist ICF to assess the aviation market outlook, including demand, and evaluate Solent Airport's future potential.  

ICF advised that enhanced airfield lighting at Solent Airport would improve its competitive position with neighbouring airports and offer the potential to develop new markets for the airport, including attracting new tenants whose operations rely on a higher level of certainty.

What is the Business Case supporting the installation of runway lighting?

The installation of runway lighting is a service enhancement that should improve the competitive position of the airport and attract more business. The business case demonstrates a payback period of between 11 and 30 years, based on different commercial risk and reward scenarios.

While the cost of implementing an AGL system can be significant, it is considered vital for developing aeronautical operations at the airport. It should not only attract new businesses but will be instrumental in retaining some of the existing businesses on the airport site.

How many spaces will be lost at Monk's Hill Car Park?

A lighting mast will be placed in the Monks Hill Car Park with the loss of a small number of parking spaces. 

How will the runway lighting impact on the environment?

As part of the design and planning processes surveys were undertaken to understand the impact of this proposed new lighting on its surroundings and neighbours. These survey documents can be found here.

Can the lighting be solar powered?

It is possible to use solar power for airport lighting and we have asked our design team to consider its use on this proposed scheme at Solent Airport. However, in the light of the technical requirements and the technology that is currently available, this type of lighting does not currently meet the CAA's requirements.

How can this be good for the environment and the Council's aspirations to be carbon neutral by 2030?

The Council's progress towards being carbon neutral can be found here. The Council's strategy is to prioritise carbon savings that are under our direct control; however there are also plans under consideration to reduce the indirect emissions from the users of the airport.

These will include projects to reduce energy use on the airport site by using low emission vehicles, converting airport facilities to low carbon operation, promoting cycle-to-work and other green transport initiatives, introducing clear recycling targets including food waste and reducing single use plastic.

The airport already offers low leaded aviation fuel and in the last 12 months the sale of low leaded aviation fuel at Solent Airport has increased by nearly 300%, with low leaded fuel now around 50% of all aviation fuel sales. The operators are also investigating the provision of fuel alternatives, such as hydrogen and electricity, with one of the established airport tenants, Britten-Norman, involved in an exciting research program to develop a retrofittable powertrain solution for their Islander aircraft using hydrogen technology.

How can airport lighting support local businesses and jobs?

Ellie O'Toole from Euro Flight Training explains how it will help their business:

"Euro Flight Training is one of the few dual-approved flying schools in the UK, which makes us able to train pilots for both European and UK licences to the highest levels. We not only train general aviation pilots, but we train the commercial pilots of tomorrow.  Solent Airport is ideally situated for training in the EU, which is a compulsory part of the course, and as such we receive enquiries and students from all over the UK, Ireland and some from Europe who wish to train for dual licences.

Most of our courses require some element of training using instrument approaches (PBN) and some of them require flying at night. Some courses are designed entirely around instrument approach flying. We also need the flexibility and continuity to train pilots during the frequent periods of bad weather and long nights that we experience in the UK.

Currently we are restricted in this at Solent Airport. Because of the lack of an instrument approach, some students decide to train elsewhere as their costs may increase when they have to fly to another airfield to train, or if their course is delayed because of marginal weather. Significant costs and disruption can occur when our aircraft are unable to return from training elsewhere because the weather has deteriorated, because they then need to land at other airfields and either stay overnight or wait for an improvement. With an instrument approach at Solent Airport we could continue to train in marginal weather so we can continue to be competitive and attractive to students.

We also suffer from lack of aerodrome lighting. In the winter this means our training has to cease when it gets dark, and we lose several hours of potential flight time.  We are completely unable to train for one course, the night rating, without repositioning the aircraft to another airfield and staying overnight, incurring increased costs and losing revenue for Solent Airport.  As a result, some students choose to go elsewhere to train.

AGL and an instrument approach at Solent Airport would make us more attractive to potential students because we could compete with other flying schools in terms of the continuity of training we can offer and the value for money.  We could also fly more hours, which would increase revenue for the airport. It would ensure that we can carry on growing as we intend and bring more money in to the local economy".

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