MPs urge reduction in ‘stacking’ at airports

The government should set targets to eliminate excessive stacking around Heathrow airport if a third runway is built, the Commons Transport Select Committee recommended in a report on airspace use.

MPs acknowledged that some stacking is necessary. But the practice, commonly used at Heathrow, increases fuel use and noise.

Pilots can instead use the continuous descent approach (CDA) where the aircraft descends in a gradual, uninterrupted way with engine power reduced.

This technique is used depending on weather and traffic conditions. But the committee’s inquiry found that practice varies between airports and airlines.

The Society of British Aerospace Companies told the committee that CDA resulted in an average reduced fuel use of 100 kilograms and 315kg less CO2 per flight and markedly less noise for those under the early descent of the flight path.

MPs recommended the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) be more active in encouraging CDAs.

The report also suggested the Department for Transport and the CAA should consider adopting limits on noise levels and numbers of aircraft permitted per hour over sensitive areas, such as national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

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