Third party safety around airports
Aviation prides itself on its safety record and the risk of an accident on any particular flight is very low. In order to minimise risk to the public from aircraft crashes, the Government designates the areas around the UK’s busiest runways as ‘Public Safety Zones’ (PSZ) and imposes planning restrictions in order to limit population increases in these areas. Increases in airport activity which would in turn increase the size of a PSZ could come with the cost of preventing the provision of new housing or infrastructure.
AEF has concerns both about how PSZ policy is being interpreted by some Local Planning Authorities and about whether the policy itself is robust. As well as taking up these issues with Government, we have called on the CAA to make information about PSZs more readily accessible, and we continue to highlight the importance of accurate risk assessment and consideration of opportunity costs in the context of airport development plans.
An additional safety threat to the public comes from falling objects. It is surprisingly common for ice blocks (formed on the outside of aircraft, sometimes as a result of leaks around pipes used for liquid, which then freeze at high altitude) and even aircraft parts to fall from planes. The CAA has responsibility for investigating incidents of ice or other items falling from aircraft, but maintains that is has no liability for them and is rarely able to identify their origin. To report ice blocks or other items that you believe may have fallen from an aircraft, you should contact the safety regulation group at the CAA; see the appropriate section in the CAA’s contact details. We would also welcome you informing us about the incident.
Many airports have schemes in place to deal with the impact of aircraft vortices which can sometimes cause localised damage to property.