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Scatsta should be kept open

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Scatsta should be kept open

Old 25th Nov 2006, 15:17
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Scatsta should be kept open

Form the Shetland News website
Gavin Morgan
25 November, 2006
A SHETLAND councillor has vowed to fight any proposals to move Bristow Helicopters oil rig operations away from Scatsta airport, after it was revealed a review of the service was imminent.
The pending arrival of five new, technologically advanced helicopters on the island has raised questions regarding the long term future of Scatsta, which is located next to Sullom Voe oil terminal.
Bristows and the main oil companies will be having a meeting on Wednesday to begin an operational review of their air service within Shetland.
The reviews are standard practice but this one is raising particular concern because the publicly funded Sumburgh airport, operated by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL), has recently expressed interest in gaining the Bristows contract.
The review will cover the Shetland operation from every angle, including the viability of the privately owned Scatsta continuing its current service flying oil workers out to rigs in the North Sea and North Atlantic, or the possibility of the contract going to Sumburgh or Aberdeen.
The decision will be made in light of the arrival of five Sikorsky S-92 helicopters over the next 12 to 18 months. The S-92 can carry 19 passengers, one more than the Super Pumas currently in use.
The S-92 was also the preferred choice of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) for the new coastguard rescue service, a contract Bristows has lost to the Canadian CHC Helicopter Corporation.
Delting councillor Drew Ratter said any move to shift oil operations out of the north mainland would be a bad thing for the islands.
"Overall Shetland will be a big loser if Scatsta goes and I would be in strong opposition to any plans of this sort," he said.
"That HIAL are trying to bring something like this about raises all sorts of issues. A publicly funded organisation cannot go into business competition with a private one. I see this behaviour as mystifying."
Bristows lead the Integrated Aviation Consortium who will make the final decision about Scatsta's future after the review has been fully processed. Oil companies that are involved will include BP, Shell, CNR and Petrofac.
Sumburgh airport manager Nigel Flaws said: "We have not had any direct approach from either helicopter operators or oil companies. It appears that what they are doing is a full review of their whole northern North Sea logistics and hopefully we will benefit from it.
"The infrastructure is all here. It would be a very smooth transition to bring it here. We are now well placed with our extended runway."
If Scatsta were to lose its offshore links it would inevitably have to close down. This would lead not only to job losses, but to Shetland being left with just one airport at a time when efforts are being made to expand tourism on a large scale.
Mr Ratter said: "The increasing number of visitors that are coming to Shetland means it is more and more important to have two fully capable airports. We need a diversion airport on Shetland. If there was only one, and any type of problem occurred the planes would have to return to mainland Scotland."
It was possible one airport would not have the capacity to handle the very busy summer seasons and if the planes had to be diverted to the mainland visitors may decide to cut their holidays short or be discouraged from travelling to the isles again, he said.
The review should be completed in December but a decision on whether operations will be moved away from Scatsta is not expected for a few months.
link here
http://www.shetland-news.co.uk/pages..._kept_open.htm
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Old 4th Dec 2006, 11:35
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Any update on whats happening?
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Old 4th Dec 2006, 13:48
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If Scatsta is closed....where would Bristow exile all their over the hill pilots and ex-managers who have fallen upon their swords? Perhaps this might be fortuitous....they could begin to staff Nigeria with the now redundant dino's?
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Old 4th Dec 2006, 18:11
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Hello,

As a shetlander I dont see much point in keeping Scatsta open. Sumburgh has more to offer and has just had the runway extended - costing millions.

I think they should transfer back to Sumburgh like the old days.

Ok so they lost the SAR contract but they still have hangers at Sumburgh and if need be, there is room for more.

But yeah i think Sumburgh is better for the BP operations because its not like they can do much with Scatsta. They cant extend the apron and they cant extend the runway. Were as Sumburgh has ample apron space etc.

Cheers,
Shetlander
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Old 22nd Dec 2006, 09:59
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Originally Posted by shetlander View Post
Hello,
As a shetlander I dont see much point in keeping Scatsta open. Sumburgh has more to offer and has just had the runway extended - costing millions.
I think they should transfer back to Sumburgh like the old days.
Ok so they lost the SAR contract but they still have hangers at Sumburgh and if need be, there is room for more.
But yeah i think Sumburgh is better for the BP operations because its not like they can do much with Scatsta. They cant extend the apron and they cant extend the runway. Were as Sumburgh has ample apron space etc.
Cheers,
Shetlander
'As a shetlander, I dont see much point in keeping Scatsta open' -clearly one from the south end I'd guess and obviously not one that's tried to fly on a very regular basis in and out of the isles. I've departed ABZ a few times with the pilot not sure what the destination actually was, just depends what's open when we get there I've circled SCS and LSI a number of times before diverting to the other airfield - rather that than heading back to ABZ.

'Sumburgh has more to offer and has just had the runway extended - costing millions.' - and what a complete waste of money that was. £10 million for what? Shortly after deciding to do this they downgrade the scheduled planes from ATP's to Saab 340's. They now lost one of the weekly 146 Faroe flights after the airline clearly realised that there isn't the customer base they expected.

Scatsta was converted with a clear business requirement in mind and it's facilites and services are tailored to suit. Bit stretched at times but not like the ghostly facility sat at the other end of the isles. HIAL and airport management have delusions of grandeur over Sumburgh thinking that if they build a bigger airstrip then the business will come flocking their way.

They need to keep both open for the good of the isles and HIAL need to give up LSI and let it be run by someone who understands the real lifeline requirements of the service.
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Old 22nd Dec 2006, 20:20
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'Sumburgh has more to offer and has just had the runway extended - costing millions.' - and what a complete waste of money that was. 10 million for what?
I disagree. How can making a fairly short runway longer, allowing higher payloads and pax numbers be a waste of money?

Shortly after deciding to do this they downgrade the scheduled planes from ATP's to Saab 340's.
'They' are Loganair/BA, no HIAL. The runway was extended with the view to attracting future larger aircraft, and increased payloads on the existing users. That Loganair decided to replace a 68 seat aircraft with a 34 seat one is their business decision, not the airport's.

They now lost one of the weekly 146 Faroe flights after the airline clearly realised that there isn't the customer base they expected.
If you did a quick bit of research you would discover that the loads on the Atlantic Airways flights this summer were extremely good. The customer base certainly is there, with the announcement that their schedule next year is changing, by missing out the direct FAE-LSI sector, but the Stansted route will remain. I believe there are several reasons for this, one being the delays from the above average number of foggy days last summer - both in Faeroe and Sumburgh.

An extended runway anywhere has got to be a good thing, especially to a lifeline community like Shetland.

I do agree that it is a huge advantage having two fully equipped airfields on the Island, it will be interesting to see what happens in the near future.
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Old 22nd Dec 2006, 20:51
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[QUOTE=Eejit;3033909]
'They' are Loganair/BA, not HIAL. The runway was extended with the view to attracting future larger aircraft, and increased payloads on the existing users. That Loganair decided to replace a 68 seat aircraft with a 34 seat one is their business decision, not the airport's.
QUOTE]

Yes, it may well have been Loganair/BA who replaced the ATP with the 340 but LSI is hardly buzzing with a multitude of scheduled service operators for HIAL to accomodate. Ever since BEA days, LSI has only had one scheduled airline (ignoring AA's 146 for now and a short competion from Business Air) - you'd really think that HIAL and Loganair/BA would work together on providing the service and would know what each other are doing
My worry is that the 10 million investment, and HIAL's apparent U Turn now to negotiate better rates for the offshore traffic, may switch the SCS service back to LSI and force the closure of SCS. I think the 10 million investment was all about attracting back the SCS service to LSI.
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Old 22nd Dec 2006, 21:14
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UKpaxman, I fully agree, the closure of SCS would be very bad news for Shetland. Having two large airfields on one relatively small Island is quite unique in Scotland, and to lose one would be a major blow.

Yes you would hope that the airfield operator and the one main airline would work together to come up with a solution, but as we both know the 'organisations' involved in these kind of decisions can rarely find their a**e with both hands!
I have no doubt you're right, the investment was made with the intention of attracting back the lost business of the oil flights, along with planning for future regional aircraft developments.

Lets hope they make the right decision!
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Old 23rd Dec 2006, 11:45
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Any decision is going to be made by BP and Shell.
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Old 23rd Dec 2006, 13:03
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I think the 10 million investment was all about attracting back the SCS service to LSI.
You're right, oil business is always mentioned whenever the airport manager talks about the extention. It's pretty poor that LSI got grants from all sorts of public bodies with the aim of out-doing it's only real rival.

Hopefully Scatsta will maintain a helicopter operation in some fashion. I doubt Bristows or any other company could hope to get as focused a service from anywhere else. Scatsta is there to operate and serve the Pumas almost exclusively.
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Old 23rd Dec 2006, 13:37
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If memory serves, Scatsta has a better weather factor than Sumburgh. However if the runway at Sumburgh has been extended, have they installed an ILS? It's technically feasible. It seems unbelievable that an island vital to the nation's economy should not be served by a decent modern all weather airport.

And yes, I do mean "all weather"; the Government needs to finally wake up to a strategic asset. The people who work in support of North Sea Oil at Scatsta and Sumburgh and their Shetland friends need and deserve the best infrastructure for some of the world's worst weather conditions - and I don't mean a VOR, nor do I mean uncertified GPS. Modern aircraft deserve better.
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Old 23rd Dec 2006, 14:22
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Sumburgh got a CAT I ILS i believe with it's extention. Gets you down to 300 feet, not that that'll help when the haar is tearing through on the deck at 50knots! And didn't this summer.

Scatsta does seem to miss some of the worst weather but suffers from not having a cross runway. Feeding the helis with passengers is hard if the planes can't land because of the cross wind. The facilities currently available are pretty limited, not even a VOR at Scatsta just the NDB and primary radar for SRAs. Not ideal, but does seem to manage.
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Old 23rd Dec 2006, 15:38
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Surely Bristows, being a private company, is entitled to do what it seems fit to improve productivity and efficiency to improve profits. If it now has a better facility in Sumburgh which will soon be quiet with the loss of the SAR contract, it seems clear to me that it is a perfect base to set up for S92's whilst Scatsta still has the Pumas. Once set up, the Pumas can be deployed elsewhere and Scatsta left for other private operators. Bristows is not a charity to prop up a community!
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Old 23rd Dec 2006, 17:53
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Just a couple of points to add to this thread,

Mr Toad - Sumburgh has had a Cat 1 ILS for quite a while, long before the recent extention. It was reinstalled after the work was complete giving, as before, an ILS for Rwy27 and Localiser only approach for Rwy 09.

In that sense it has been an "all-weather" airfield for many years, but because we get all the weather at LSI there are of course some days when even the facilities there are not enough, be it can't-see-finger-in-front-of-face fog or wind at lots gusting lots more.
The cross runway 15/33 is a great help in daylight, unfortunately the prevailing wind is inconsiderately right between the two runways, but it is unavailable at night, effectively making Sumburgh a single runway airport during nighttime hours (of which there are quite a few this time of year.)
But what really are the options? Maybe we just have to accept that, in spite of our advances in technology in many areas, we can't put the brakes on ol' Mother Nature and sometimes have to admit defeat.
Shetland seagull's are among the hardest in the world, but some days even they take shelter and wait for things to improve.......
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Old 23rd Dec 2006, 19:28
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Surely Bristows, being a private company, is entitled to do what it seems fit to improve productivity and efficiency to improve profits.
With Scatsta being 35nm north of Sumburgh, surely adding 70 miles to the round trip is going to be costly. 15 flights a day, add a half an hour to each trip for the distance (since the S92s are not going to maintain the supposed 150knots due to vibration) and you've got 7.5 hours a day. That's the best part of a day's flying wasted running back and forth, past Scatsta.

I can't see how it will be cheaper for Bristows to run from Sumburgh. I just can't

It seems as though Bristows are trying very hard to keep a foot hold in Sumburgh, nice and physically close to the SAR contract (best to keep an eye on things there down, eh? ). And to use the property they have already have down there, rather than sell up.
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Old 23rd Dec 2006, 20:00
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Originally Posted by Sudden Stop View Post
can't see how it will be cheaper for Bristows to run from Sumburgh. I just can't

It seems as though Bristows are trying very hard to keep a foot hold in Sumburgh, nice and physically close to the SAR contract (best to keep an eye on things there down, eh? ). And to use the property they have already have down there, rather than sell up.
Think you need to look elsewhere for the problem with Scatsta
Friend of mine flys in and out off Scatsta works offshore and he will tell you that the problem is the fixed wings many a time they fly into Scatsta with only 40 or so people on board not many for a 146 200 just 2 tiger loads .
That aircraft should be able to carry full loads into Sumburgh as I think it now has a grooved extended runway.
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Old 23rd Dec 2006, 20:14
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A slab wing pilot told me they could get 80 pax into sumburgh with the runway extention, which is an improvement but doesn't save the operation as a whole much. Currently they're using six pumas and feeding them with two 146s (they can get three heli loads to a plane at scatsta). So, even if they put 80 pax on a plane and sent it to sumburgh they would still need to run the second 146 to get the rest of the pax up. Even if you were able to fill all 100 seats of the 200, you still need two planes to match up with six helis.

If Bristows restrict the operation to five S92 (only using 19 seats each) and somehow land a full 146 at sumburgh you could save money there by getting rid of plane. But that's a reduction on the current operation just to make the move to sumburgh cheaper.

I think...
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Old 24th Dec 2006, 04:18
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Thanks for the update Eejit; and yes, I do remember the weather (and the simmer glim etc). I have both flown and sailed those waters which give me an even more jaundiced opinion of the weather.

Point is, it's not just the oil industry that needs to be served; the community needs a suitable airport in an accessible place that can be relied on in ALL weathers. Modern helicopters can do nearly all-weather stuff when equipped for it; so can modern airports. If the money were made availabe and the CAA or whatever they're called would certify it, you could have perfectly decent DGPS approaches or even MLS when that comes; curved AWAY from the hardstuff. FAA and Sikorsky have done much work on this stuff. We can train for it easily in the sim, even our fixed wing colleagues could do it...

I hold no brief for Sumburgh itself, and remember only too well the crosswind factors (Alidair Viscounts SRA to 09 followed by stbd wingtip through the houses to land on the southerly runway. Wasn't that to "300" feet as well?) A Cat 1 ILS is hardly state of the art stuff for the haar.

So let the money men decide WHERE they want it, then build something more future-proof. God knows, the nation and the oil companies have taken enough money (and the SIC too); plough some back into something useful.
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Old 24th Dec 2006, 10:10
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Another factor in this Scatsta versus Sumburgh equation is the increased security requirements that in turn have increased the amount of personnel required to run Scatsta.
In the old days they had a couple firemen / baggage handlers / everything else with limited or no security, now on the security side alone they must have at least 20 people working there. All those and other extra personnel add to a very high wage bill where in Sumburgh this will be shared with HIAL.
In the end it will be like Sox6 says the oil companies (accountants) will make the decision and as before with the Shell move the other way: money talks!

I just like to take the opportunity to wish everybody & their families a Merry Christmas and a happy 2007, fly safe.

Greetings

Finalchecksplease
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Old 30th Dec 2006, 15:49
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Sumburgh Airport

Upgrading runway 09 with a full ILS would certainly show HIAL was serious.
Often in poor visibility you have surface contact at the "decide point", but the runway is not visible with the inevitable go-around.
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