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Pilots warn Zaventem flight plan is ‘unsafe’

9 September 2005

BRUSSELS — Belgian pilots association BeCA has claimed the so-called spreading plan for flights at Zaventem Airport in Brussels is unsafe.

The plan aims to reduce noise pollution by spreading flights across all the airport’s runways.

The pilots primarily criticised the use of the runway 02/20 and the airport’s wind regulations. They proposed various alternatives, such as equipping one of the runways with an additional landing system.

“The article has no political intentions,” BeCA chairman Pierre Ghyoot said.

“It is intended for foreign pilots. We simply want to warn them for the situation at Zaventem where they can be sometimes unpleasantly surprised by the many changes.”

And it is not the first time the Belgian Cockpit Association has raised concerns about the flight plan. However, this is the first time they have said it is plainly “unsafe”, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported on Friday.
The warning was issued in an article in the magazine ‘Safety Bulletin’ from the international pilots association Ifalpa. The article was published in July, but only attracted attention on Thursday.
Pilots regret the fact the spreading plan stipulates the hour and the day take-off and landing runways will be used, rather than current methods based on weather conditions.
BeCA said the preferential runway system differs from what the international aviation organisation Icao stipulates. The choice of a runway must be based on safety reasons, not noise pollution issues.

The pilots also said runway 02/20 should not be used as a preferred runway and instead should only be used at times of strong northerly or southerly winds.

This runway crosses the other two runways (25R and L), which increases safety risks. BeCA said using the 02/20 to spread noise pollution out is unacceptable.

The pilots also complained about the regulations which determine how much side or tail-wind is permitted before a runway may no longer be used. Between June 2003 and March 2005, these regulations changed seven times, BeCA said.

Residents have long complained about noise pollution around Zaventem and the spreading plan was designed to limit problems.

The Brussels government recently won a court ruling defending its strict regulations, but the federal government claims the noise limits threaten the future of Zaventem.

The federal government has until 15 October to resolve the issue, but Brussels Prime Minister Charles Picqué said earlier this week he is prepared to discuss the matter.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news