Historical records show that around 70% of aircraft accidents occur in the landing and take-off phase of a flight. This means that areas close to airports have an above average risk of damage due to aircraft accidents. So how do we protect against this risk?

Public Safety Zone (PSZ) Policy was introduced by the Department for Transport to mitigate the third party risk to people and property in the vicinity of airports. It applies planning restrictions to the affected areas to control the numbers of people and structures on the ground subject to unacceptable risk.

On behalf of the Department for Transport, NATS calculated the public safety zones for more than 35 UK airports using a specially developed risk methodology for estimating the probability of fatality per year due to aircraft crashes. This methodology is considered to be best practice, which is why it has led to NATS securing international contracts in Europe, the Middle East and Australia in addition to the work carried out in the UK.

Airport Master Planning

Using risk methodology to support airport master plans and development helps airports to understand how the changes in forecast traffic compares with the current public safety zones to which local restrictions may apply. In some areas the public safety zone provides a mechanism for monitoring the effects of airport growth and also limits some aircraft types.

At London City Airport there is particular emphasis on the public safety zone due to the density of the developments around the airport. Over the last couple of years, NATS has worked with London City Airport to help them understand how the 2009 permission to increase aircraft movements to 120,000 per annum will affect the public safety zone, allowing them to optimise the traffic forecast within these constraints.

Find out more about NATS’ strategic approach to safety.


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