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A HOLE LOTTA MEDIA HYPE GOING ON OVER A 'HOLE IN STANSTED AIRPORTS RUNWAY' BUT IS IT?



If you follow Twitter and believe what you read in the papers, all hell broke out on Sunday as a 'hole' is said to have appeared at Stansted Airport, this seemingly devoured whole aircraft and thousands of passengers reportedly never seen again by loved ones...  

Great content (or copy) as editors would say, but the reality isn't quite so grim, no emergency declared, all aircraft safe and passengers left unscathed, but some slightly miffed and lately discovering exciting new but unexpected airports.... 

However several hundred intending outward bound air passengers, and a few hundred incoming passengers did briefly 'face off' as it were.

Julian Bray Aviation expert discussed the outcome live on 'Pirate' BBCEssex BREAKFAST (on Tuesday 8:10am then BBC iplayer)He commented: "Clearly there were major failings in the way Ryanairs ground crew (subcontracted to SWISSPORT) handled the situation. A series of callers to BBCEssex on Tuesday related a catalogue of disasters, and a total lack of clear information. It is imperative the airline management urgently review the actions of its SWISSPORT subcontractor and consider if the current contract is working. or perhaps urgent retraining of ground crew staff is required? Until the ground crew flags up a problem, there is little the airport management can do. It would also be a good idea if Ryanair operations, reviews and takes notice of the BBC Essex Broadcast this morning. Essentially they need to gave fair warning of any cancellations or diversions to the desk staff, as the ground crew were still sending passengers to the departure gate 45 although the incoming Ryanair flights (4 of them) had been diverted or cancelled)."   

Flights were diverted after officials shut down the landing strip between 5.30pm and 6.10pm on Sunday.

There was no emergency called,  just a massive pinch point, for a short while, as twice the normal number of mainly Ryanair sunday passengers were trying to process against each other in opposite directions through the Stansted passenger terminal, before extra passageways and doorways opened.  

Ryanairs ground handing agents, the Swissport company, didn't at any time declare an emergency, but sensibly did request extra bodies from the airport management staff, donning high viz jackets, to direct the passenger traffic and marshal them into lines around the Ryanair ticketing desk, for rebooking and onward flights. 

What is now clear is that the single runway designated 04-22, surface paved, and just over 10,000 feet long and 151 ft wide was not damaged at all. 

An adjoining emergency section known as the blast pad however developed a surface disintegration problem, detected during a regular and frequent routine inspection, and that caused the 'sudden' 40 minute closure.

At all times the blastpad, precautionary overrun sections and taxiways need to be fully operational, along with the main runway.

Without the blastpad, the main runway was taken out of use, as a quick temporary repair was completed on the blastpad section, to be completed with a later full permanent repair overnight.

Meanwhile to add to the fun, for sound operational reasons, Ryanair independently took the decision to cancel four flights, and in all 11 flights were affected mainly being diverted to other airports (Not 'hubs' as the media would have you believe).    

Passengers in-flight were reportedly told by crew that the disruption was caused by a hole in the runway, and social media did the rest.  A journalist/passenger took the information at face value, wrote on Twitter that his Ryanair pilot told passengers flights were being diverted due to a hole in the runway....
After the closure, Stansted Airport issued a statement saying flights were now running again, but "some flights may be delayed or cancelled". Clearly as some aircraft by this time were physically out of position.

The statement continued: "Our runway was temporarily closed between 5.30pm and 6.10pm to allow for minor repairs to be safely carried out and some arriving flights were diverted to other airports during the closure.

"This temporary measure was deemed necessary for safety reasons and we would like to advise that the runway is now open and flight operations are back to normal."
 

JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Analyst/expert, ... Travel & Holiday Guru www.aviationcomment.com,  ... http://www.freelancedirectory.org/user.php?user=8121  ... www.freelancedirectory.org?name=Julian.Bray.aviation.comment,
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