Signature Restarts Gatwick “Helicopter Aiming Point”
Signature Flight Support (Booth 364) is again handling all helicopter traffic in and out of Gatwick Airport after the helicopter aiming point (HAP) re-opened earlier this month. The development means that business and commercial aviation operators will again be able to land at Gatwick without a formal runway landing slot (they will need only an HAP slot, so ATC has prior notification) and without having to taxi on the runway. The HAP is optimally positioned at the end of taxiway Uniform on the west side of the airport, said Signature.
The HAP was closed in 2001 due to airport layout changes in the area, said Jonna Mercercox, Signature Gatwick’s station manager. “It was not re-introduced at the time as it became apparent there was nowhere on the airfield for a new HAP that fulfilled all the safety requirements,” he said.
A proving flight using a VIP-configured Eurocopter EC135 was conducted on May 3 by London Helicopter Centres, which is based just to the north at Redhill Aerodrome. It planned the flight in conjunction with the British Helicopter Association, which was “instrumental in offering advice and assistance,” said Signature.
Mercercox said there were two goals at the outset: “to eliminate helicopter operators having to obtain runway slots to land and to improve runway movement efficiency by reducing the number of helicopters using the runway and taxiing around the airfield.” With the objectives met, he said it would “enhance…service capabilities to passengers, airlines and general aviation customers.”
The HAP is for use only in daylight when visibility is 1,500 meters or more. After landing, helicopters follow an escort vehicle to the parking area.