140725. Cape Town. THE Airports Company SA (Acsa) wants to realign the runway at Cape Town International Airport to make room for larger aircraft and greater passenger numbers – but an environmental assessment says the increase in noise and air pollution would affect surrounding communities Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Cape Town - Pilots would be happy to see the realignment of Cape Town International Airport’s runways and an increase in its capacity to take more flights, the Air Line Pilots’ Association president Marius Santos said.

“There clearly is a squeeze at the airport as the numbers of flights to it have increased,” Santos said on Friday in response to the results of an environmental impact assessment issued on Thursday.

The environmental impact assessment found several obstacles to the proposed changes at the airport, including the increase in noise levels and pollution certain residential areas would have to cope with when flight paths changed due to the realignment.

The realignment proposed would see the runways change direction by 11.5 degrees.

Santos said the realignment would make it possible for more of Cape Town’s runways to be awarded a Category 3 safety status, which would allow aircraft to descend to 50ft rather than 100ft as lowest height above the runway in times of fog. To be able to drop down to 50ft would allow a pilot much better visibility to judge how his aircraft was lined up with the runway, allowing him to see more of the runway before he decided to go around again or land.

At present, the runways’ directional orientation meant the Tygerberg was in the way, forcing approaching aircraft to take to a glide slope of 3.2 degrees rather than the flatter, international standard 3 degrees.

“One might thing a mere 0.2 degrees is nothing, but in our business it makes a big difference,” Santos said.

“On Cape Town’s runway 19, we now have a category 2 classification, which means one has to make the decision to go around at 100ft in stead of 50ft when there is fog or mist.

“And when you take off in the north-westerly wind, you have to take a sharp left turn just after take-off to go around the Tygerberg.

“With the realignment, you would be able to fly out straight.”

Larger aircraft will also be allowed to land because the runway will be increased by 300m.

There are about 90 000 flights a year to and from the airport - and about 8.5 million passengers went through it last year. The new alignment will allow between 10 and 15 more aircraft to land every hour.

SRK Consulting, the independent environmental assessment practitioners who are leading the environmental impact assessment on behalf of Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), Cape Town International Airport, for realigning the airport’s runway, has released the final scoping report to the public for a 21-day comment period from July 11 to August 1.

All those interested or affected, especially residents around the airport and in neighbourhoods affected by the flight paths, have been asked to review the document and make comments available before August 1.

The executive summary of the scoping report has been distributed to all registered stakeholders and copies of the full report are available at neighbouring community libraries, Acsa and SRK offices, and can also be located at www.srk.co.za.

All comments must be submitted to Scott Masson at SRK Consulting (DEA reference numbers: 14/12/16/3/3/2/446).

Cape Argus