Airports could limit very light jet growth

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The latest Eurocontrol traffic projections suggest that capacity constraints for the expected growing numbers of very light jets will be at airports rather than in the sky.

Alex Hendriks, principal adviser to Eurocontrol's air traffic management director, says that by 2030 Europe's existing airports could have a capacity shortfall equivalent to around 6,500 flights a day and that as many as 50% of all flights could face delays as a consequence.

New-generation VLJs can avoid this squeeze, he argues, by using their technology to implement performance-based navigation tools, such as VNAV approaches, to start using small airports with inadequate ground-based navigation infrastructure.

Eurocontrol's analysis of projected traffic data for the next 20 years shows likely capacity shortages in under-developed Turkey and the Czech Republic, as well as in the busy markets of the UK, France, Germany and Italy.

Eurocontrol has completed the consultation stage of its very light jet integration platform project. This concluded that there will be no significant air traffic capacity issues from an expected influx of VLJs. However, Eurocontrol is still deciding whether to recommend new requirements for VLJ operations such as mandatory TCAS II and additional pilot training.