There's been quite a debate raging on 'the other forum' re this. It mostly involves aviation professionals such as pilots and air traffic controllers with some input from engineers. The technicalities are way beyond my comprehension.
Nevertheless, I get a slight feeling of people being wise after the event when it comes to the procedures the airport adopted for the resurfacing. It seems they took the best advice and their contractors apparently followed standard procedures obtaining in the industry at the time.
Where airport senior management probably fell down was in not reacting quickly enough when it became apparent there were serious problems following an extended period of high winds and heavy rain. For days before the management decided to close the place completely pilots were conducting a co-ordinated campaign (mainly on that 'other forum') to have something drastic done to combat the severe difficulties many were experiencing. Eventually it seems some airlines listened and pulled out, forcing the airport management's hand.
The MD at the time, Andrew Skipp, left the airport a few months later - 'to seek new challenges' - but few doubt that he fell on his sword, whether with some pressure from the airport owners is uncertain.
To be honest I find it rather unusual that the airport authorities weren't aware that it would cause a problem not having the runway diamond grooved during the works. This is pretty much standard proceedure at most airports and I would have thought that the specialist company involved in doing the work would have know and advised this beforehand.
At the time the airport management was insistent that grooving temporary surfaces was not the industry norm and an engineer who has been contributing to the debate on 'the other forum' seems to acknowledge this, although he seems to agree with the official report that suggests that Bristol's particular vulnerability to high winds and heavy rain in winter should have prompted the airport to have undergone a more thorough duty of care process that would, if carried out properly, have foreseen the likely problems.
The entire runway was resurfaced during that winter and, as far as I am aware, only the small section that caused the problems was eventually grooved in its temporary state.
As I said earlier, I have no technical knowledge of this so have to dry to delineate a path through the public utterances of the airlines, the airport, CAA and some of the pilots and other professionals.
Your contribution is valuable to me as you work at an airport and you have no vested interest unlike some of the organisations mentioned in my previous paragraph.
I suspect there might have been one or two twitchy backsides amongst Guernsey passengers at Bristol today.
It seems the Guernsey Airport fire brigade is engaged in an industrial dispute and is gradually withdrawing cover to the extent that the airport is currently only legally allowed to operate the smallest passenger aircraft.
The usual Aurigny ATR 72 that operates GCI-BRS is too large so the ingenious GR people put on two BN Trislanders today working GCI-BRS-GCI instead of the ATR 72. Loads must have been poor today for this to be practical unless they left some passengers behind.
I know when my son used to fly from Jersey to Guernsey on business on the Trislanders on one occasion a female colleague nearly dampened her drawers when she saw the aerial chariot awaiting them. So what the good passengers of Aurigny made of a flight all the way to Bristol and indeed in the reverse direction would have been fascinating to hear.
I remember two of my neighbours travelled from Bristol to Jersey with Flybe a couple of years ago and, knowing my interest in aviation, reported to me on their return that they would never use that airline again because of the 'old, noisy planes they use'. When I pointed out they had flown on a brand new aircraft (a Q 400) they thought I had gone off my head. Oh for them to have been at Bristol today awaiting their Aurigny aircraft to Guernsey.
Incidentally, when my wife and I visit Guernsey we always think the Trislanders buzzing overhead look and sound like WWII V1s ('Doodlebugs').
To be fair I'm not a fan of prop aircraft myself either. I have never flown on a prop aircraft but I have always booked my flights with caution making sure that it's a jet aircraft each time.
A colleague of mine at the airport is going to the highlands in March and she has said that her husband who is also a keen aviation enthusiast is wanting to fly across to the islands on what I think is an BN2 Islander. She's not impressed at all and has joked about wanting to get the ferry across instead.
This made me laugh. This is how the Highland Airways discribes the islander aircraft "The short field performance of this aircraft type is renowned, and it is a popular choice for specialised aerial missions and is endowed with the mystique of aviation" So, it's endowed with the mystique of aviation. I feel so much better now, must run off and buy my ticket right now. :shout:
I enjoy the turbo props because generally they cruise at lower altitudes than jets of course and fly more slowly. As I'm bored to tears with inflight entertainment I spend most of my time gazing out of the window and the turbo prop is great for looking at the countryside, so long as it's not cloudy or dark. Even with thick cloud I am fascinated with the ever-changing vistas although if it stretches too high the old turbo prop might be in amongst it.
Had a go with a glider a few years ago. Sat right at the front with the bloke flying it seated behind me - he did let me have a try in the cruise. Landing in a glider is interesting. The approach angle is steep because of course that's the only way it can keep its airspeed above stalling. It gave me an idea of how the Luftwaffe Stuka pilots might have felt in WWII. :shok:
In the early 1990s KLM Cityhopper used to operate the 33-seat Saab 340 on the Bristol-Amsterdam route. In fact it was on one of these that I encountered my first female pilot who was also the captain. She looked about 25 and her first officer looked about 16. The door to the flight deck was open for the entire flight and she was animatedly chatting away to her colleague for most of the trip. I said to my wife that I bet the real captain had gone off to play golf and told his daughter to fly to Bristol and take her young brother with her. Seriously, it was a very professional flight but they did look young!
A man who terrified passengers on a plane after drinking a bottle of vodka in the toilet cubicle has been jailed for 12 weeks, police said today.
Frank Tobin, 47, was flying from Sharm El Sheikh, in Egypt, to Bristol airport in December when he became drunk and began abusing staff.
Tobin, from Cardiff, was arrested on landing and told he had shown a "reckless disgregard" for safety on the busy flight.
Sergeant Barry Attwater, based at Bristol International Airport, said today: "There is no justification for getting drunk on an aircraft and anyone who does shows a reckless disregard for the other people on the plane.
"As well as 200 other passengers having to put up with the drunken behaviour, passengers who are drunk are a serious risk to the safety of the aircraft and may even cause the flight to be diverted to a nearby airport so that they can be removed from the aircraft.
"Police have an excellent working relationship with Bristol Airport and the airlines that fly from there.
"There is a commitment to tackle people thinking of getting drunk in aircraft and this includes reminding passengers to know their limits, as well as robustly enforcing the existing legislation.
"Passengers will often have a drink in the airport lounge or on the aircraft and we do not want to stop people enjoying themselves. However, passengers need to know their limits and stop before they become too intoxicated.
"I would urge passengers to stop and consider how they would feel if a drink resulted in them gaining a criminal record."
Getting drunk on an aircraft is an offence punishable by a jail sentence under Air Navigation Orders 2005.
Alison Roberts, general manager (terminal) at Bristol International, said: "We want all passengers using the airport to have an enjoyable start to their journey, but inappropriate behaviour by a minority can spoil the experience for everyone.
"Enjoying a drink before departure can be an enjoyable part of the holiday experience, but not if it spoils the journey for other passengers."
North Somerset Magistrates' Court heard that the flight was returning from Sharm El Sheikh when police were alerted to a man who was reported to be drunk on the aircraft.
The man had consumed a bottle of vodka in a toilet cubicle and was being abusive towards the airline staff and swearing, magistrates were told.
Officers were waiting for the plane when it arrived and arrested the man. He was taken into custody and charged the following day with drunkenness on an aircraft.
Tobin was sentenced to a 12-week jail term when he appeared in court a fortnight ago.
The communications systems in the wilds of North Somerset must be grinding slowly if it has taken two weeks for this to come to light. That's the trouble with relying on bonfires on hillsides and some old blankets.
Summary of CEO's remarks at recent consultative committee meeting
I’ve had a look at the recent airport consultative committee minutes and set out a summary of some of the comments of the CEO, Robert Sinclair.
If the expansion plans are approved (I don’t think anyone really thinks they will be that easily) construction could begin at the end of this year, although more likely in 2010/2011.
The expansion would be incremental and sequential with an extended terminal building the priority. The full expansion would probably take between eight and ten years.
Construction of the western walkway (general permitted development) is expected to begin this coming May and be completed by March 2010. It will be incorporated into the full expansion in due course - provided planning permission is obtained for the full expansion.
The working figure is 10 million passengers per annum by 2016 although this might slip a year or two.
2009 is likely to see seasonal movement, albeit summer is still expected to be busy, although 2009 as a whole may see fewer passengers overall than 2008. It is expected that 2010 will see a continuation of growth.
The Bristol catchment is in one of the more resilient regions of the country and it is expected the airport will outperform its peer regional airports for passenger throughput, although the CEO emphasised times are ‘challenging’.
Because of the weakness of the GB pound inbound passengers are expected to increase in number (there is some evidence that this is already happening) and the airport is getting together with the local authorities and other agencies to rebrand the area to attract more leisure and business travellers. There is also a political element to this because opponents of expansion say inbound travellers represent a too small portion of the total as a whole.
Today the West Country saw the nicest day of the year so far in terms of weather. The sun shone all day and temperatures were in double-digit Celsius - a far cry from just two weeks ago when snow, ice and freezing temperatures brought back fleeting memories of 1962/1963, for those old enough to remember it.
Mrs Yokel had an engagement for the day so I decided to do something I've not done for a long time (no, not that! that is gone forever, or is it?) and used my gravedigger's pass to get out to BRS on the Flyer coach.
I walked several miles around part of the perimeter before returning to the terminal for the Flyer back to town, with a charming lady driver.
What surprised me in this winter of economic discontent that has seen passenger numbers and air transport movements noticeably reduced was the sight of three Thomson aircraft (former First Choice and all still painted in FC colours) on the ground together in the morning (1 757 and 2 x 320s) and 3 Thomson B 733s meeting in the afternoon. All ski flights but I cannot recall ever seeing so many together at BRS, even in the days of economic plenty.
In addition there were the ubiquitous easyJets, a couple of MOL's 738s, TCX and BGH 320s, Aurigny and Aer Arann ATR 72s, Eastern J 41, Air France (Airlinair) ATR 42, a couple of ASW Dash 8-300s (still parking next to each other so that passengers from LBA and MAN can change for PLH or NQY as the fancy takes them) and a KLM Cityhopper F 70. I was too late for the early OS 738 from Innsbruck and CO 752 from EWR and left too early for the later OS 738 from Innsbruck.
All in all a very pleasant day plane spotting, although I've never been a number taker, and satisfying that in such straitened times a variety of carriers is still in evidence in the North Somerset mountains on a Saturday in winter - even though the weather fooled everyone into thinking the seasons had swapped.
Saturday was was very nice 'upt North' too. The sun was cracking the pavements (nearly) but unfortunately I was working indoors for the best part of it so I didn't get a chance to enjoy it. The walk will have loosened those creaky old joints.
It seems Bristol has some fair old variety, always a good sign of a thriving airport. Sometimes the winter period can be the best time to see all the different varieties of aircraft when the airline schedules are weaker. They often leave it until mid morning before they have their first departure.
Incidentally, my sister was down in the Cotswold's with the family for the weekend, she said she had a lovely time and the weather was favourable.
Bristol is very fortunately situated. Not only does the M4/M5 crossroads occur at a mini Spaghetti Junction on the north-western edge of the city but such cities as London, Birmingham and Cardiff are all within easy reach, with the World Heritage City of Bath almost a suburb (Bathonians will love that!).
It is also a simple task to reach not only the Cotswolds, but Forest of Dean, Brecon Beacons, Salisbury Plain, Mendips and Exmoor to name but some natural areas of outstanding beauty. The glories of Devon and Cornwall are also not so far away.
The superb countryside is one of the reason why BRS does so well with leisure routes - many comfortably-off people live there who also like to see other parts of Europe and beyond at times.
Delighted to hear your sister enjoyed her visit to the West Country, albeit the northern Cotswolds are arguably in the South Midlands.
SEVERAL high flyers have been added to Bristol International Airport's leadership team.
Chief executive Robert Sinclair has promoted Shaun Browne to the key position of aviation director, while director of planning and environment, Alan Davies, becomes part of a five-strong senior team alongside Sinclair, Browne, finance director Jim McAuliffe and operations director Paul Davies.
Mr Sinclair said: "This new structure puts the right people in the right places and ensures we are clearly focused for 2009 and beyond."
Shaun Browne brings a wealth of experience and industry knowledge to his role, which will be key in ensuring Bristol International continues to attract quality airlines to the region, successfully operating routes which add value for business and leisure passengers, as well as promoting inbound tourism to the South West."
"Alan Davies is instrumental in bringing forward a planning application for the development and enhancement of the airport."
Shaun Browne has been at the airport for many years, as number two to the route development director, the last one being Tony Hallwood now getting to grips with things at LBA.
There is no doubt that Shaun does possess tremendous knowledge of the aviation scene in South West Britain and further afield. He once said to me that nothing happens at the South West and South Wales airports without him soon knowing about it, and I don't think it was an idle boast.
Airport managements have many things in common with football club managements with the best ones able to make significant differences. As in football some people are better number twos than they are at being the top man (or woman). It remains to be seen whether this will apply to Shaun. Somehow I think it won't and he will become an excellent aviation director (change of name for the job at BRS in the same way that the MD's title is now CEO).
Do you like meeting interesting people from all over the world? Will you enjoy the hustle and bustle of an international airport? Can you commit to a minimum of 4 hours per week?
Bristol International Airport are looking for a team of volunteers who are willing to act as goodwill ambassadors, welcoming visitors to the South West, to assist our travelers and provide a courteous and friendly service throughout the customer journey. No specific experience is required and training will be provided.
The VIP team will provide local knowledge, meeting and directing customers on their outbound journey and acting as an Ambassador for the South West region for inbound visitors arriving at Bristol International Airport.
VIP’s will receive a host of benefits including:
Free Flyer access between Bristol and the Airport
Discount on food and beverage and specified retail outlets
Travel expenses within a 20 mile radius
Free car parking.
We welcome applications from members of the local community over the age of 18.
There is currently no closing date for this position.
If you would like to join us then please click here to download an application form, alternatively please write to the address below to request the form.
Oh dear, that is cheeky! I hadn't heard of it before but it is sure to catch on when other airports get wind of it. I mean really, airports make enough money to pay people to do this. If it's a service they wish to provide thwey should pay for it. What will be next? "Retired people required who like gardening to spruce up flower beds around terminal in their own time. Must possess own wheel barrow however transport to the airport will be provided"
Blue Islands has applied for a route licence to operate between Guernsey and Bristol. The airline has submitted a case to the Department of Commerce and Employment to operate a new scheduled service to this popular south west airport.
Derek Coates, chairman Blue Islands, said: ‘Bristol is an important city and one of the largest business centres in the south. This fits naturally within our philosophy to serve the business cities of Europe.
‘We also believe that the tourist and leisure market can be stimulated through this gateway to the west and south west of England. This route needs a second operator as the current incumbent has cut capacity and frequency by almost 40% over the Winter 2008/2009. In 2008, compared to the previous year, this represents a total reduction in passenger carryings of 11%."
Blue Islands will be providing a twice daily morning and evening service to improve opportunities for Islanders and inbound UK travellers’ to benefit both the Guernsey leisure and business sectors.
Since Blue Islands introduced competition on the Guernsey to Southampton route the market saw 9% growth in the twelve months of 2008 over the same period of 2007.
Mr Coates, added: ‘we believe over a period of time, with the introduction of a second operator, we will be able to double the number of both business and leisure visitors to the island from the Bristol catchment area.'
Aurigny already operate this route, daily in summer and 4/5 x weekly in winter. I believe the reduction in their capacity mentioned by the Blue Island spokesman consists of dropping to 4/5 x weekly for the whole of this winter compared to only two months in the previous winter, and operating single daily at weekends in summer when previously they had gone double daily.
Seems like overkill to me.
Blue Island tried a summer weekend CWL-CWL route two summers ago that was then axed. CWL has no GCI route at all now.
Airline people know what they are doing with route selection don't they? Or do they?
VAST swathes of British infrastructure, including the ports of Hartlepool and Immingham, have been put up for sale by troubled Australian backers Babcock & Brown and Macquarie in a desperate attempt to raise cash and pay down debts.
In the boom both investors were among the most aggressive buyers of infrastructure assets, but quickly became pariahs when the credit crisis hit. They have been forced to dump assets to meet refinancing payments and return money to angry shareholders.
Babcock & Brown has hired Dresdner Kleinwort to sell PD Ports, Britain’s second-largest ports group and operator of Hartlepool and Immingham docks, for at least £400m, including debt.
Several industry sources told The Sunday Times they have been approached in recent weeks by Macquarie offering an array of its assets. Macquarie funds control Thames Water, which is London’s monopoly supplier, Bristol airport and Condor Group, which runs the Isle of Wight ferry.
Among the first to go, sources said, could be the M6 toll road.
The Macquarie fund that owns it last week sold half of its holding in a Sydney motorway and said that it will “continue to consider opportunities to realise value from its portfolio”.
Babcock’s shares have shed 97% in the past year, while Macquarie has lost two-thirds of its value.
Last week Macquarie said that its listed funds were focused on “closing the gap between current security prices and the value of the underlying businesses. These initiatives . . . may include major asset sales.”