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2014年7月16日 (水)

都心の飛行制限 羽田強化につながる見直しを

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ease flight restrictions over Tokyo to give Haneda Airport extra wings
都心の飛行制限 羽田強化につながる見直しを

How can the functions of Haneda Airport be improved while ensuring nearby residents support the changes?

The government will need to hold sincere discussions with affected municipalities and residents on this issue.

The government is considering relaxing flight restrictions in the airspace over the Tokyo metropolitan area as it seeks to increase the number of arrival and departure slots at Haneda.

To help prevent noise pollution, commercial aircraft must, in principle, fly at an altitude of at least 6,000 feet (about 1,800 meters) over central Tokyo. Consequently, most flights that land at and depart from Haneda use routes over Tokyo Bay and Chiba Prefecture.

Each year, Haneda has 450,000 arrival and departure slots. Many airlines want extra slots allocated to them so they can capitalize on the airport’s convenient location.

However, the airport’s current flight routes are already overcrowded. It will be extremely difficult to increase the number of flights Haneda can handle solely by squeezing even further the time between arrivals and takeoffs.

If the rules were eased to enable planes to fly lower over central Tokyo, air traffic control would have a wider range of options available, such as being able to simultaneously use runways that run in different directions. This would apparently enable enough leeway to raise the number of arrival and departure slots at Haneda.

The government estimates that relaxing these restrictions could enable about 25,000 more flights to take off and land at Haneda annually by the time the flame is lit for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan from Asia and other growing regions is expected to continue increasing. Adding slots at Haneda to accommodate the ensuing rising demand for flights also will likely contribute to boosting growth in the Japanese economy.

Address noise concerns

The government says it wants to establish new routes that would fly over Tokyo wards including Shinagawa and Ota.

The biggest challenges will be figuring out how much noise pollution will be generated in areas where aircraft are permitted to fly lower and coming up with effective steps to counteract this noise.

Takeshi Hamano, the mayor of Shinagawa Ward, was quite justified in saying, “I won’t oppose increasing the number of flights, but I want thought to be given to the height they fly and the times they fly.”

The government is planning a proposal that would allow flights in airspace over central Tokyo only between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., and restrict flights to small and midsize aircraft that do not produce a lot of noise.

The government will need to provide clear data on the noise levels that will arise and what effects the extra flights will have on nearby areas, and to explain it to the public in simple terms. It should also present concrete proposals for details including how expenses for soundproofing work will be met.

Not to be forgotten in this matter is Narita Airport. At present, about 40,000 of Narita’s annual 270,000 arrival and departure slots are not being used. This is apparently because transport links to central Tokyo late at night or very early in the morning are inconvenient.

Improving transport access to and from Narita will be essential for boosting the number of flights in time slots currently underutilized.

It also will be important to make it easier for Haneda and Narita airports to operate in an integrated manner so they can both serve as key airports for the Tokyo metropolitan area. We hope the public and private sectors will together examine whether it will be possible to improve rail and other facilities that directly link the two airports.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 15, 2014)


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