Debunking the myth that Leeds Bradford Airport can fly unlimited night-flights with certain types of planes

 

Now that LBA has withdrawn its application for a new terminal building and to change its flying hours, Mr Hodder, the CEO of LBA, has popped up on television claiming that by extending the existing terminal and taking “…the approvals that we already have and work with those in a really creative way…”, LBA can still expand to seven million passengers a year.

The night-time restrictions operating at the airport began in 1993. They have been carried forward unchanged to today and apply to the current planning permission to extend the existing terminal. Mr Hodder says, “Those restrictions that we have on the number of flights operated during the night-time hours don’t apply to the new generation of more efficient, quieter aircraft.”

 

Let’s take a look at this claim and see just how absurd it is.

A quick lesson in Quota Count

 

In 1993 planes were categorised into QC bands based on how much noise they make. The quieter the plane, the lower the QC band. As new planes have come into service, the QC bands have been constantly reviewed and adapted to take account of newer, quieter planes.

Picture 1.png

Shown in lighter text - QC/0.25 and QC/0.125 were introduced later

 

When the current planning conditions were written in 1993, QC/0.5 was the lowest category, and anything below that was classed as exempt subject to a weight limit.

Mr Hodder is ‘creatively’ interpreting these outdated rules to claim that newer planes with QC of 0.25 and 0.125 are exempt and therefore do not count toward the cap of 4000 night-flights per year. If they don’t count to towards the night-time cap, an unlimited number can fly and, hey presto, LBA can get to seven million passengers. That sounds reasonable so far.

It would be if it we’re not for the fact that he’s forgetting about the weight limit! For a plane to be exempt it must weigh less than 11,600kg. This rules out all commercial jet airliners, meaning that none of the newer planes can fly; the opposite of what Mr Hodder says.

We don’t know if Mr Hodder actually believes his own rhetoric or if he has been convinced by his colleagues, but LBA’s position currently seems to be that if they repeat this claim often enough it will come true. This may be his wish, but you can be assured that GALBA’s legal team is on to it.

A more detailed explanation is available here which explains the conditions in full, their legal interpretation, and the implications for LBA.