Northern Isles representatives Liam McArthur MSP, Tavish Scott MSP and Alistair Carmichael MP today held talks with the CAA to discuss concerns surrounding plans by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) for the future of air traffic provision in the region.
The talks followed representations they made earlier in the week to HIAL's Managing Director, Inglis Lyon, concerning the cost and deliverability of the technology proposed in HIAL’s plans to move to remote air traffic control.
In attendance for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was Rob Lewis, Manager for Air Traffic Management, and Will Nathan, Parliamentary Liaison Officer.
In a joint statement following the meeting, the Northern Isles representatives said:
“We are grateful to the CAA for their time and found the discussion extremely helpful.
“The CAA were able to confirm that HIAL’s plans to move to a more centralised system of remote towers across the Highlands & Islands could only proceed with CAA approval. This will only happen if HIAL manage to satisfy the CAA’s safety requirements.
“On the basis of the proposals published last week, we remain of the view that HIAL have their work cut out. The board has chosen the most costly and risky option and has some way to go in demonstrating that the resilience of communications needed between local airports and the remote centre can be achieved or achieved cost-effectively.
“Meantime, the risk is that issues HIAL says it has with recruitment and retention of locally based air traffic control staff become more difficult. This is something HIAL must look to address.”