Published on October 9th, 2019 | by Mark Dwyer0
Weston Airport to Close at Lunchtimes!
In a letter sent to all operators at Weston Airport on 8th October, the management have advised that from next Monday 14th October, Air Traffic Control (ATC) services will not be available between the hours of 13:00 and 13:30 (local). During the summer period, from 30th March, ATC services will not be available for a 45 minute period from 13:00 to 13:45 (local). The reason for the closures was “to remain in compliance with the regulations on fatigue management for ATC staff”.
The letter went on to say “A notam will be issued in relation to the opening and closing of the service. Dublin ATC will take over the airspace for the duration of the Lunch time closure of the ATC service at Weston. No traffic will be allowed to take off and land at Weston airfield during this time period” (emphasis by author). Although the breaks are relatively short, the impact to operations at the airfield is likely to be much greater. Flights will need to be back on the ground prior to closure, or remain airborne throughout the closure. The aerodrome would not be available as an alternate during the closure which could prove challenging, especially during the winter months where some of the local grass aerodromes would also be unavailable.
This, once again, calls into question the reason for having Class C controlled airspace at Weston. Prior to 2006 when Class C controlled airspace was introduced, the aerodrome operated very well with an AFISO service. Prior to 2002, it was just an A/G radio. At present, Weston has a higher airspace classification than London Heathrow! Given that the majority of traffic into and out of Weston is VFR, Class G airspace is much more appropriate. For the few IFR arrivals that use Weston, the minima are so high that it effectively requires VFR conditions for visual manoeuvring on the latter stages of the approach.