Following a competitive procurement process, Regional and City Airports Ltd (RCA) were appointed in 2016 to provide airport operations and management services at the Airport on behalf of the Council. This appointment has ensured that the airport is managed professionally by an operator with extensive experience in the aviation sector.
Solent Airport supports a range of aviation activities, including private fixed-wing flying, flying schools and helicopter movements as well as aircraft manufacture, aircraft maintenance and other employment activities that require airside facilities. HM Maritime and Coastguard Agency also operates its Search and Rescue helicopter service (SAR) from the airfield.
Facilities at this CAA Licensed Aerodrome include a resurfaced runway, aircraft refuelling, on-site engineering, hangarage and outdoor aircraft parking, along with flying tuition and flight experiences. There is also a café and viewing area for members of the public to enjoy.
In March 2022, the Council announced a £4.7M package of further investment in the Airport to enable its continued safe operation and to continue to deliver the Council's Vision to develop a vibrant and sustainable airfield.
The proposed programme of investment includes aeronautical ground lighting, a performance-based navigation system, taxiways repairs, hardstanding aircraft parking and self-fuelling facilities. These investments will support existing airside activities and improve the airport's competitive position by removing some of the identified operational capacity constraints.
The Council's Daedalus Vision and Outline Strategy sets out the Council's intention to install Aeronautical Ground Lighting (AGL), a collection of ground-installed lights, to enable ground navigation of aircraft in conditions of low visibility or hours of darkness, within existing regulatory constraints. The lighting system will be supported by a performance-based navigation system, with a total budgeted cost of £1.3M.
The Performance-based Navigation (PBN) concept defines aircraft navigation system requirements in terms of the accuracy, integrity, continuity and functionality required for the proposed operations: in this case as an approach aid. The concept enables accuracy in terms of navigational guidance without the need to invest in more expensive ground-based infrastructure such as an Instrument Based Landing approach system (ILS). It specifically enables prescribed flight paths which can be designed such that aircraft are able to follow a non-precision approach into an airport, necessary for instance in periods of low cloud or poor visibility. The prescribed paths also help when it is necessary to define routes avoiding particular areas, for instance to reduce the impact of noise disturbance on a particular local community, or avoidance of military or restricted airspace.
With AGL and PBN, operators will benefit from more flexibility to plan operations at the airport knowing that, if they run late for example, they will still be able to land. During the winter period, operations at the airport currently cease at dusk, typically 16:30. AGL will help to grow demand from existing operators as well as being able to attract new operators, subject to the 10-movement after dark limit per day imposed for such operations. These systems and procedures will increase the operational viability of the airfield and increase the usable capacity of the airport by extending the periods during which the airport can safely be used, especially outside the summer months.
While it is possible to offer Aeronautical Ground Lighting without a Performance-Based Navigation system, the latter is relatively low cost and augments the Aeronautical Ground Lighting. PBN requires AGL to be in place before it can be effectively operational. The PBN system will be developed alongside the AGL Scheme.
The AGL Scheme at Solent Airport requires the installation of lights on the approaches to the Airport and alongside the runway. Approach light masts will be located at Monks Hill Car Park and in Daedalus Common/Jubilee Park. A small one-storey building close to the Airport Control Tower may also be required if the equipment and power back up source required for the scheme cannot be accommodated within the existing airport buildings.
Planning permission will be required and the Council as applicant must seek the views of residents before the planning application can be submitted. A static public exhibition ran between 26 July and 19 August at the Airport Café and at Fareham Innovation Centre and residents in nearby properties were notified of the proposals directly. The Council also undertook a consultation in advance of submitting the planning application. You can find out more on the dedicated AGL consultation webpage.
The AGL Scheme at Solent Airport was first designed in 2017 and small changes are likely to be required as a result of new housing developments and regulatory changes. Ramboll UK Limited has been selected to project manage and finalise the design of the scheme.