As the call for the expansion of London Heathrow Airport grows more insistent, with high-profile entrepreneur Richard Branson adding his voice to the debate, resident groups that will be affected by the noise caused by an increase in air traffic are raising their objections. Representing more than five million people, the 2M Group is an all-party alliance consisting of twenty-four local authorities investigating the impact the proposed Heathrow expansion will have on their communities and the environment.
Heathrow is the United Kingdom’s busiest airport and as of 2012 was rated as the third busiest airport in the world. Its economic impact on London is enormous as it provides up to 76,600 jobs directly and indirect employment to as many as 116,000 people. Taking into account that a significant number of global corporations have offices with easy access to the airport has resulted in Heathrow being classed as a modern aerotropolis – an urban area with its infrastructure, layout and economy being centered on an airport.
Back in 2009 when it was announced by the UK Transport Secretary that the government was in favor of expanding Heathrow’s capacity by building a third 2,200-meter runway and an additional terminal, bringing the total number of terminals to six, the proposal was opposed by groups who expressed concern regarding carbon emissions, noise and air pollution and the impact this would have on local communities. Prior to the 2010 General Election the expansion at Heathrow became a political issue with both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives making it known that they oppose the expansion of Heathrow, and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, supports constructing a new airport in the Thames Estuary to meet London’s growing air travel needs. Following the elections, it was announced that the proposal of a third runway had been cancelled.
While the proposal to build a new airport on what has been dubbed as “Boris Island” would likely be the most practical from the point of view of dealing with future increases in air traffic, as well as avoiding additional noise and pollution in highly populated areas, the cost of an estimated £30 billion or more is a sizable stumbling block. Also, if the airport was to replace Heathrow, rather than just supplement it, the ripple effect would be devastating for the people and businesses in London relying on the airport for their livelihood.
Branson was recently reported as saying that Britain needed a government that is brave enough to take a decision regarding the airport expansion, and then to just “get on with it”, suggesting that private-sector investment would be the way to fund the venture. His proposal includes building two more runways at Heathrow as soon as possible, while considering other options. However, the government is waiting on the Davies Commission which, under the leadership of former Financial Services Authority boss Sir Howard Davies, is examining all options for expanding Heathrow’s capacity with final findings expected in the summer of 2015.
Attending flight school is a big decision. You can’t just waltz into class and grab a seat. Besides, even if you could do that, you don’t know the kind of education you’ll receive. Like any other school, not all flight schools are created equal. The knowledge and experience of the instructor will play a big role in the type of education you get. So will the philosophy of the school. Here’s what you need to look for before you commit to anything:
The Minimum Requirements
Minimum requirements in the U.S. are set in stone. The FAA requires that you be at least 17 for a private pilot’s license. For a commercial license, you must be at least 18. In both cases, you have to be able to speak and read English. You don’t need perfect vision, but it must be correctable to 20/20 with glasses or contacts.
You have several choices when it comes to schools. First, you can choose a Part 141 school. These schools have pretty high requirements in terms of what’s expected of you. They are periodically audited by the FAA too. The benefit is, if you’re going for your commercial license, you only need 190 flight hours (minimum).
Another choice is a Part 61 school. These schools aren’t audited by the FAA, but they require many more flight hours – a minimum of 250 for commercial licensing. Finally, an accredited school is like attending any other college or university. This last option might be particularly attractive if you want to be a professional pilot since you’ll earn a degree.
Check out the ground school. Most students focus mostly on the flying part of school, but a good ground school can make all the difference in regards to the quality of your education. Ground school is where you learn the theoretical knowledge that will be required when you’re up in the air.
Ground school may consist of either an instructor teaching you or a self-paced home-study class. If you don’t work well independently, make sure your school has a strong ground school with good instructors. If you need a flexible schedule, make sure your school offers a home-study course. Not all of them do.
What does your school cost? A private pilot’s license will likely run you about $5,000 to $6,000. Maybe more. A commercial license may cost you $15,000, $30,000, or more depending on what your instructor charges, the cost of aircraft rental, and the hours you need to pass your exam and checkride.
Don’t automatically go with the lowest cost school. In fact, you should look at the most expensive schools you can afford. They will likely have well-paid instructors since higher pay tends to attract more knowledgeable and competent instructors.
Available Financial Aid
There are a lot of ways to pay for flight school. Most students use scholarships or loans to defray most of the costs. Some of the more popular scholarships include:
• Boeing Scholarships
• UAA Janice K. Barden Aviation Scholarship
• The Aero Club of New England
• The Girls With Wings Scholarship
• William M. Fanning Maintenance Scholarship
• Astronaut Scholarship Foundation
• Lawrence Ginocchio Aviation Scholarship
• Alan H Conklin Business Aviation Management Scholarship and;
• The LeRoy W. Homer Jr. Scholarship
You can also get financial aid in the form of federal Pell Grants and a direct Stafford Loan.
Article contributed by Paul C. Guerrier.
Paul C. Guerrier is a recently certified airplane pilot. His passion is aviation, and he blogs about it for a number of different websites. Click for more information about better pilot training.