9 December 2003
BRUSSELS – A number of airlines operating in and out of Brussels International Airport at Zaventem have written to Belgian Transport Minister Bert Anciaux raising safety fears over the government’s new night flight plan.
A plan to spread night flights to and from the airport across the surrounding area in a bid to reduce noise pollution in the most affected neighbourhoods was endorsed last week.
SN Brussels Airlines is one of those companies that said the plan puts safety at risk. It said the plan, which includes alternating the use of runways for take off and landing, did not wind direction sufficiently into account and increased the probability of an accident.
The airlines also warned the plan might cause longer waiting times at Zaventem, especially during peak summer months.
Anciaux denied his plan put safety at risk. His office stressed that air traffic controller Belgocontrol as well as airport manager BIAC were involved in the decision-making process and approved his plan.
Earlier, two pilots, one from Lufthansa, another from British Airways, lodged a complaint with Zaventem regarding the “recklessness” of forcing aircraft to land on one runway when another could be safer.
Both were told by air traffic control that, due to a ministerial policy, they would have to land on a runway with heavy tailwinds when other runways were clearly home to more suitable conditions.
On 24 December 1997, a Transavia Boeing 757 veered off the runway at Schiphol airport just outside Amsterdam after being asked to use a specific runway rather than a safer one due to noise pollution.
A Crossair Avro 146RJ crashed just before landing at Zurich airport, killing all passengers on board, when the captain was ordered to switch to a runway which was not equipped with precision approach – again, due to noise pollution regulations.
Anciaux has agreed to have discussions with the airline companies concerned.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Belgian news