Gatwick Airport could convert its existing standby runway to full use in one of three scenarios in its new draft Master Plan released on 18 October.
The document outlines options for future growth at Gatwick, despite the preference of the UK government for a third runway at Heathrow.
One eye-catching proposal is to convert the existing 2,500 m standby runway to handle narrowbody departures. This runway is currently used only during emergencies or when the main runway is shut for maintenance, with 3,722 aircraft movements in 2017.
Gatwick argues that widening the emergency runway by 12 m would meet ICAO requirements to separate runway centrelines by at least 210 m, allowing the new runway to operate 10–15 aircraft departures per hour during peak times. An airport spokesman told Jane’s that inbound flights would be diverted to another airport in the event of an emergency.
Gatwick planners hope that its conversion to routine use would enable the airport to handle 80,000–100,000 more flights per year. Operating both runways simultaneously is forbidden by the 1979 Section 52 Agreement with West Sussex County Council, which is set to expire in 2019. If the plan is approved by the government, Gatwick officials claim that it could complete the project by the mid-2020s, stealing a five-year march on the third runway at Heathrow.
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