$480 million St Helena airport finished but can't ever be used

 
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Grytviken

St Helena is an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It is so remote that they imprisoned Napoleon I there, confident that he couldn't be rescued. It's also so mountainous that no aeroplane had ever landed there... until this year.

In an effort to make the place economically viable and wean it off UK government subsidies, the British spent £295 million ($A480 million) to carve a flash new airport out of the mountains. Perched on top of a 320 metre cliff, it has a runway able to take A320 / B737 sized aircraft. Except that the engineers and meteorologists got things rather wrong...

After just four flights the airport has been closed. The flights were experimental landings with a small twin prop Beechcraft, a very wobbly landing after three attempts by a B737, a landing by a smaller jet with pilots especially imported from the Faeroe islands where they have the windiest commercial airport in the world, and a medical evacuation flight. However the St Helena airport was deemed to be so badly affected by wind sheer that could flip planes, that after the four landings it was closed and the 4,000 residents continue to rely on a five day journey on an elderly ship to South Africa as their only contact with the outside world.

I guess all they can say to the people that built hotels on St Helena in anticipation of a tourist boom and to unfortunate British taxpayers who had £295 million of their hard earned money wasted is... 'Whoops, we didn't anticipate that'.

The best summary is at:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3637070/Plane-crazy-Inside-gleaming-300million-airport-paid-jets-t-land.html

Other articles are: https://www.ft.com/content/bff86c54-80b9-11e6-8e50-8ec15fb462f4
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/sep/21/st-helena-islanders-compensation-285m-airport
http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/2016-09-23/britain-faces-being-sued-as-st-helenas-airport-still-too-dangerous-for-commercial-flights/

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  RTT_Rules The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dubai UAE
In cases like this and they exist in Australia too, I think the govt should offer a 1 time only offer to leave after which the excessive subsidy of maintaining the colony/town/city is removed.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

They need to market it as "Aviation Adventure Tourism" with a thrilling landing guaranteed.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Always check on information from news sources, some journalists apparently still think the earth is flat.....................

They are apparently still working on the certification of the airport, the wind shear problem only occurs on landings from the north, landings from the south and takeoffs TO the south are OK. This will mean some aircraft that prefer a tail wind landing will not be able to use the airport. This puts in the category of some of New Giuneas air ports that only have one usable direction.

Its likely it will be a airport where a pilot and aircraft BOTH will require an endorsement that they can use it correctly.

Currently the island is ONLY accessable by ship once every 3 weeks or so, and prior to the airport s construction there was no heavy use port facilities, these had to be built so the airport could be built.

It appears one of the motivations for building it was Argentina is still upset about the Falklands and Britain would like another possible airbase in the region.

There's still plenty of motivation to get it in action.

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Another issue which is complicating the process is the airport is designed for smaller jets but the island is at quite a long range for such aircraft, so there load factor will need to be down. The airport though DOES have refueling facilities so aircraft do not need to carry fuel for both directions of the flight.
  RTT_Rules The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dubai UAE
Aircraft always carry fuel for an alt airport and if this is like Norfolk Island, it basically means back where you came from, hence it must carry fuel for the return journey.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Atlantic Star on a scheduled run flew a AVRO RJ100 in to St Helana airport last week on a demostration flight and they plan to start a twice weekly service to Ascension Island aprox 700 nautical miles away connecting with the RAF passenger service. They  (Atlantic Star) stated that an aircraft will be based at St Helana to allow for ready emergency use. Although the AVRO RJ100 can carry 100 people the number carried will be limited to 50 to keep the aircraft within the downwind weight limits that will be required from landing from the south only. A spokesman for Atlantic Star said the landing and take off at the new airport was not an issue on the demonstration flight
In future a service using modified longer range RJ100's will be provided to Cape Town and Johanisburgh in South Africa.

Taken for Atlantic Star's website.
  GS4 Junior Train Controller

Hey, a 737 MAX , nice.  Virgin Australia has some Max 8's on order with the first due next year.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Just to get some perspective on this St Helena has a population of around 4500, ie around 50% bigger than Euroa in NE Victoria. The AVRO RJ100 is a 4 engine high wing jet with a maximum weight of 42 tonnes, wing span of 26.21 metres and is a short field capable aircraft.

woodford
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
Atlantic Star on a scheduled run flew a AVRO RJ100 in to St Helana airport last week on a demostration flight and they plan to start a twice weekly service to Ascension Island aprox 700 nautical miles away connecting with the RAF passenger service. They  (Atlantic Star) stated that an aircraft will be based at St Helana to allow for ready emergency use. Although the AVRO RJ100 can carry 100 people the number carried will be limited to 50 to keep the aircraft within the downwind weight limits that will be required from landing from the south only. A spokesman for Atlantic Star said the landing and take off at the new airport was not an issue on the demonstration flight
In future a service using modified longer range RJ100's will be provided to Cape Town and Johanisburgh in South Africa.

Taken for Atlantic Star's website.
woodford
RAF passenger service?
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Grytviken
In cases like this and they exist in Australia too, I think the govt should offer a 1 time only offer to leave after which the excessive subsidy of maintaining the colony/town/city is removed.
RTT_Rules
Except that the UK government can't leave St Helena. The place is poor by UK standards and would fall flat on it's face without subsidies if it was forced to become independent. The alternative to independence is to transfer the island to the nearest African countries, but Angola, Congo, etc. don't exactly have a good record on human rights and they are so deeply corrupt that they have no hope of economic prosperity.

Woodford mentioned the Falklands. Now that place is booming and they receive no aid from the UK... except for defence, (but in the immortal words of Basil Fawlty "Don't mention the war"). Tourism, agriculture and fisheries earn the locals an average income 1.5 times higher than people in the UK. They are self governing and ministers of the Falklands Government have said if it wasn't for the threat from Argentina, they wouldn't mind becoming fully independent. However that's a moot point because the Argentinians would never accept Falklands independence.

However St Helena has virtually no tourism, is too mountainous to farm on a large scale and their territorial waters are not rich with fish or squid, so they have no hope of achieving the level of prosperity necessary for independence. Therefore I can't see an alternative to continued subsidies by UK taxpayers.
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
However St Helena has virtually no tourism, is too mountainous to farm on a large scale and their territorial waters are not rich with fish or squid, so they have no hope of achieving the level of prosperity necessary for independence. Therefore I can't see an alternative to continued subsidies by UK taxpayers.
"Bogong"
Take the residents off, tow the whole place out to deep water, and scuttle it.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
Atlantic Star on a scheduled run flew a AVRO RJ100 in to St Helana airport last week on a demostration flight and they plan to start a twice weekly service to Ascension Island aprox 700 nautical miles away connecting with the RAF passenger service. They  (Atlantic Star) stated that an aircraft will be based at St Helana to allow for ready emergency use. Although the AVRO RJ100 can carry 100 people the number carried will be limited to 50 to keep the aircraft within the downwind weight limits that will be required from landing from the south only. A spokesman for Atlantic Star said the landing and take off at the new airport was not an issue on the demonstration flight
In future a service using modified longer range RJ100's will be provided to Cape Town and Johanisburgh in South Africa.

Taken for Atlantic Star's website.
RAF passenger service?
railblogger
I wondered the same and found this http://www.raf.mod.uk/rafbrizenorton/passengers/ and this http://www.ascension-flights.com/ascension-flights-info.htm.
  RTT_Rules The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dubai UAE
In cases like this and they exist in Australia too, I think the govt should offer a 1 time only offer to leave after which the excessive subsidy of maintaining the colony/town/city is removed.
Except that the UK government can't leave St Helena. The place is poor by UK standards and would fall flat on it's face without subsidies if it was forced to become independent. The alternative to independence is to transfer the island to the nearest African countries, but Angola, Congo, etc. don't exactly have a good record on human rights and they are so deeply corrupt that they have no hope of economic prosperity.

Woodford mentioned the Falklands. Now that place is booming and they receive no aid from the UK... except for defence, (but in the immortal words of Basil Fawlty "Don't mention the war"). Tourism, agriculture and fisheries earn the locals an average income 1.5 times higher than people in the UK. They are self governing and ministers of the Falklands Government have said if it wasn't for the threat from Argentina, they wouldn't mind becoming fully independent. However that's a moot point because the Argentinians would never accept Falklands independence.

However St Helena has virtually no tourism, is too mountainous to farm on a large scale and their territorial waters are not rich with fish or squid, so they have no hope of achieving the level of prosperity necessary for independence. Therefore I can't see an alternative to continued subsidies by UK taxpayers.
Bogong
A total of ~4000 residents although many go off-shore for jobs. The budget is roughly 50% UK govt aid, about $5-6mpa.

Offer them $25k each Man, Woman and Child to leave and that by 2020 the UK govt assistance will be reduced to $1mpa.

Fauklands has alot more to offer unlike a basically mountain in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with Oil Exploration and military spending helping to boost the income from their increasingly diversified economy.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

In cases like this and they exist in Australia too, I think the govt should offer a 1 time only offer to leave after which the excessive subsidy of maintaining the colony/town/city is removed.
RTT_Rules
Except that the UK government can't leave St Helena. The place is poor by UK standards and would fall flat on it's face without subsidies if it was forced to become independent. The alternative to independence is to transfer the island to the nearest African countries, but Angola, Congo, etc. don't exactly have a good record on human rights and they are so deeply corrupt that they have no hope of economic prosperity.

Woodford mentioned the Falklands. Now that place is booming and they receive no aid from the UK... except for defence, (but in the immortal words of Basil Fawlty "Don't mention the war"). Tourism, agriculture and fisheries earn the locals an average income 1.5 times higher than people in the UK. They are self governing and ministers of the Falklands Government have said if it wasn't for the threat from Argentina, they wouldn't mind becoming fully independent. However that's a moot point because the Argentinians would never accept Falklands independence.

However St Helena has virtually no tourism, is too mountainous to farm on a large scale and their territorial waters are not rich with fish or squid, so they have no hope of achieving the level of prosperity necessary for independence. Therefore I can't see an alternative to continued subsidies by UK taxpayers.
"Bogong"


The reason why there's little tourism is that to get there itself is a major task as the only way there is by ship at 3 week intervals. One of the major reasons for the airport is that it will open the island up as a tourism destination.

hmmmmmmmm, Now I really wonder how much the locals will REALLY like the place flooded (so to speak) with tourists.

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

A note on the Falklands, while the island is doing well know, Britain virtually had abandond the place prior to the Falklands war, this is a major reason why Argentina invaded as Britain for sometime had been giving the strong impression the island was not wanted.
They (the british governement) had inspite of the fact the island was a british colony had made it a requirement for the Falkland islanders to need a passport and visa to return to Britain.

Falkland DOES now have a major military airbase (Note 1) something it did not have before.

Strange how the finding of oil spurred interest in the place.

Note 1:: 4 strike fighters are permanently based there to protect the island, these rotate from there home squadron in Britian..

woodford
  RTT_Rules The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dubai UAE
A note on the Falklands, while the island is doing well know, Britain virtually had abandond the place prior to the Falklands war, this is a major reason why Argentina invaded as Britain for sometime had been giving the strong impression the island was not wanted.
They (the british governement) had inspite of the fact the island was a british colony had made it a requirement for the Falkland islanders to need a passport and visa to return to Britain.

Falkland DOES now have a major military airbase (Note 1) something it did not have before.

Strange how the finding of oil spurred interest in the place.

Note 1:: 4 strike fighters are permanently based there to protect the island, these rotate from there home squadron in Britian..

woodford
woodford
Back in 1982 when the war was going on, I remember my dad and his mates talking and saying this is all over potential oil reserves. However the Argies jumped the gun because if you look at prior to the war there was some movement by the British and Argies to allow Argentina to have greater involvement. Actual transfer was never on the cards despite the poms potentially ok with it because the Islanders themselves opposed and they had support in House of Commons.

The outcome of the war was that all the UK OS territories residents were given full UK citizenship including St Helenia. The UK has a large number of OS territories that are a head ache and a drag on the UK taxpayer and at times a legal/moral embarrassment, usually in the form of underage sex consensual or not. Pitcarin being the star performer but St Helenia is not exempt either. In these sorts of communities where there is smoke there is a real fire as after all small isolated communities on a remote island or mainland have this sterotype world wide, real or not.

I know the UK is actively trying to make many of these OS territories more economically viable, but I also think offering citizenship is also a means to encourage migration off the island and longterm a reduction in island spending by the govt and I think this is to force an outcome one way or another. I still think they should simply throw money at them to leave. Pitcairn is probably one generation from closure as Pitcairn men are rarely returning from school in NZ and women almost never.

Back OT, Jo-burg to St Helenia is 3600km by air, so any plane going there basically needs to carry 8000km of fuel to enable a few low altitude fly overs and return to base. A320 family or B737 family will need to be light loaded. Using Nambia's capital would provide an alternative to save 1000km of fuel.

Regards
Shane
  woodford Chief Commissioner

A couple of comments............

I have closely studied the Falklands war as its was the first 3 dimensional naval missile war and everyone governments, defence organisations and arms manufacturers learned a great deal and potential oil reserves was never up the head of the list of causes.

The Argentinian people genuinely think of the Falkland as there's and the Miltary Junta leading the country at the time was in big financial mess and the dragged up they Falklands issue to get the populations mind off there own performance. There perception at the time is that Britain had been ignoring the islands for years and they therefore would not put up much of a fight. Argentina complained bitterly after the war that Britain in effect gave them many come one signs and was simply asking them to try and takeover the islands.

Air service to St Helena,

My source for my information of this comes from St Helena's website and also Atlantic Star's website, I am a pilot and know all about what fuel reserves are required and I can only assume the above people HAVE got some way worked out. The distance from Cape Town to St Helena is around 2000 nautical miles (various sources give different distances) Ascension Islands is another 700 Nautical miles beyond that. I assume Atlantic Star will do the same thing as the RAF flying to Ascension and ONLY takeoff if the weather forecast for the islands is good.

I assume they will also fly along the coast of Africa and then cut across to St Helena, giving them a much shorter distance to an alternate. This is what the long distance Vulcan bombing raids did, they flew down the coast of Africa and back up the coast of South America to give them access to some kind of alternate, Such a diversion was required in Black Buck 6 when the Vulcan broke its refueling probe and it diverted to Brazil, the aircraft was impounded till the end of the war.

woodford
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Latest news about the airport.............

Quote

An external expert was brought in to review evidence of DFID actions while an independent panel has been tasked with finding a solution to challenges presented by wind shear.

Following this work, St Helena Government has now released a tender for air services for a three year period to provide the best possible air service for the Island.

18 flights have successfully landed so far including three vital medevac flights. More flights are due next week. To uphold our duty to the island an extension of the Royal Mail Ship service will provide guaranteed access in the meantime.

The Secretary of State is clear: we will deliver on what we promised for the Island and we will identify failures to ensure they are held to account, redressed and not repeated.

Unquote

Interestingly this news has no been greeted with universal enthusiasm on the island, quite a few appear to be seriously worried about the possible influx of undesirables.

woodford
  Radioman Junior Train Controller

Hello All,

St Helena was once covered in oak trees which were all cut down for the RN which caused the soil to be blown or washed away, hence its now barren appearance. I wonder why they have not tried to re tree it ?

I understand that St Helena is still required by the RN ( though not for trees ! ) and like Ascension Is may also be required as an emergency RAF airfield . Many years ago I recall an article saying that the RN found it useful for South Atlantic patrols , even so one would think that these uses would be few and far between.


Bets wishes and regards , Radioman
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Grytviken
After a quick search it appears that the St Helena airport is still unused except for one medi-evac flight this year. I note that the airport does employ a cleaner, which would probably be the easiest job in the world.

However in contrast to St Helena, the Falklands continue to boom, their farm products are selling for high prices, tourism (by both air and cruise ship) is going gang-busters, the fishery is supplying almost half of the squid consumed in many European countries and then there's the ever present hope of oil, (although none has ever been produced).

In short the Falkland Islands have an average income of around 150% of the British average. They are so loaded that they have very low taxes and the local parliament doesn't know what to do with all the money it gets, so it's building major roads to tiny hamlets and subsidising the local airline so much that long flights are amazingly cheap.

By contrast, St Helena people earn half the British average, it's too mountainous to be farmed, the fisheries are fairly barren, tourism is almost zilch and the Brits have to pour in massive subsidies. If the airport can't be fixed there won't be any tourism. If they write off the airport as a half billion dollar waste of money (a bit like the Victorian desal plant), then the place is stuffed

Increasingly Valvegear's suggestion of "Take the residents off, tow the whole place out to deep water, and scuttle it" is looking like the best solution. Sad
  woodford Chief Commissioner

The problem of development on St Helena Island (south Atlantic) compared with The Falkland's, is the former has NO protected anchorages,  while the falklands has plenty and as a consequence has developed greatly.

Due to St Helena having no protected anchorage only VERY limited facilties and equipment has been avaible, this has SERIOOUSLY held up most developments. One of the MAJOR reasons for the airport was that first decent port facilties had to be provided and these are still being upgraded. The island itself is not all barren rock, the central core an area roughly 7 x 4 kilometres is grassland and forest, and it looks a good deal is being farmed.

Work on providing an air service is an on going project, staff at the airport,including controlers need to be hired. the refueling facilty is still not cpmpleted.

IMPORTANT POINT, St Helena island, South Atlantic is one of the remotest places on this planet, the only scheduled service is a Ship from South Africa, this means setting up ANYTHING is ALWAYS going to be a sssssssssssssssssslllllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww operation. Any contractors, inspectors, etc, are going to have a tough time getting there to do there task. The islands government is DEDICATED to the  task of getting the airport up and running. They WILL get there and the change to the island is VERY likely to be catastrophic in nature.

woodford

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