General Aviation

Published on October 9th, 2019 | by Mark Dwyer


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”.

Click to read the full letter

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.

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About the Author

Mark is an airline pilot flying the Boeing 737 for a major European airline. In addition he is also a Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Base Training Captain on the B737. Outside of commercial flying Mark enjoys flying light aircraft from the smallest 3 Axis microlights up to heavier singles. He is also an instructor and EASA Examiner on single engines and a UK CAA Examiner. He flies the Chipmunk for the Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF). Mark became the Chairman of the National Microlight Association of Ireland (NMAI) in 2013 and has overseen a massive growth in the organisation. In this role he has worked at local and national levels. In 2015, Mark won ‘Upcoming Aviation Professional Award’ at the Aviation Industry Awards sponsored by the IAA. Mark launched this website back in 2002 while always managing the website, he has also been Editor and Deputy Editor of FlyingInIreland Magazine from 2005 to 2015.

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