Haverfordwest airfield in Wales has begun a consultation process to introduce two instrument approaches at the airfield which has previously only been available for aircraft able to make a VFR approach. The proposed GNSS procedures will be available on runway 03 and 21, and the airfield estimates that around 6% of annual traffic, or 220 flight per year, would use the satellite-guided approaches. In July 2016, Haverfordwest Aerodrome received a 60% grant as part of a European project funded by the European GNSS Agency. The project will facilitate the design, development and implementation of satellite based instrument approach procedures, at three small aerodromes in the UK. The project is being co-ordinated in the UK by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and aviation consultancy Helios in partnership with Haverfordwest Aerodrome.
The airport says that the instrument approaches will bring benefits to the airport and local economy, including:
- Increased safety of the aerodrome by providing satellite-guided approaches to runway 03 and 21. In particular, the approach to runway 21 over the Preseli Hills.
- Improved transport links to Pembrokeshire.
- Improved viability of the airport by ensuring access for business aviation aircraft.
- Improved operational efficiency at the aerodrome by allowing the recovery of base operator’s aircraft in deteriorating weather conditions.
- Enabling instrument flight training at the airport.
- An increase in aircraft movements caused by the new instrument approach procedures.
As part of its consultation, the airfield has produced figures that show that training flights are second only to ‘general’ movements as users at the airport. Furthermore, training movements have recovered noticeably in the past few years and are now higher than in 2008.
The consultation notes that Fly Wales is a major operator based at Haverfordwest and has commercial and training operations (representing 45% of annual movements). The commercial operation involves transporting human organs for transplant and medical staff between hospitals. These operations are unpredictable and are sometimes conducted outside of normal aerodrome hours eg at night. The introduction of instruments approaches will enable Fly Wales to operate into the aerodrome in lower visibility and/or cloud base conditions.
The document also notes that: “Training delivered at the aerodrome today does not include training to fly instrument approaches. The new procedures may therefore also be used during good weather for training pilots to fly instrument approaches, when traffic permits, from training organisations locally or coming from elsewhere. The volume of these good weather training approaches will vary depending on the intensity of other traffic and has been included in the figure of 220 aircraft that expected to use the instrument approaches.
The overall use of the proposed procedure will therefore not be evenly spread throughout the year with less approaches likely during periods of good weather. This is because when the visual traffic pattern is busy with pilots flying visual approaches, Haverfordwest Aerodrome will restrict the use of the instrument approach procedure.”
If the Instrument Approach Procedures (IAP) are approved, they are expected to become operational in the first quarter of 2019. The stakeholder consultation runs from 20th November 2017 to 26th February 2018.