London City Airport
The London City Airport is one of the world’s most special airports. It’s also one of the youngest, having opened for traffic in October 1987. Gradually the airport and its terminal facilities have been expanded. The airport served 4.3m passengers during 2015 and the plan is to increase that to 8m by 2030.
The airport is uniquely built on a narrow piece of land between the Old City docks King George V on the south and Royal Albert Dock on the north of the airport, Figure 2.
It is only 11km to London City and even shorter to the new Canary Warf financial center. Since 2005, there has been a Docklands Light Railway connection to London City and to the rest of London via Metro and train.
The certified aircraft
There is a restricted variety of aircraft that are allowed to serve the airport. Only regional and business types which are certified for the unusually steep glideslope (5.5° instead of the usual 3.0° for noise reasons) are allowed. Well-known types are the Airbus A318, Embraer E170, E190, AVRO146, Fokker70, ATR42/72 and Bombardier Q400. The CS100 shall now be added to this group.
The challenge for the aircraft is not the landing; they arrive at the airport with little fuel left and are therefore light. They can stop on the 1,500m long runway without too much trouble.
The challenge is the takeoff. The 1,500m long runway restricts the takeoff weight of the aircraft, as the flight planning has to assume that an engine stops at the most critical moment. The rest of the takeoff must be carried out on a single engine. It is not uncommon that jet aircraft’s range is cut down to one third of the type’s range from a normal airport.
BA’s London City – New York route
The A318 is the largest type which is certified for the airport. It’s operated by British Airways on a special London City to New York JFK route. The aircraft carries only 32 seats in a lie flat business class configuration.
The takeoff performance of the aircraft from the 1,500m long runway is not good enough to carry enough fuel for the trip to JFK. Therefore, the trip to JFK contains a stop at Shannon, Ireland, for fueling.
It takes 30 minutes and the passengers pass US customs and immigration to get a pre-clearance while the aircraft is being refueled for the hop over the Atlantic. This means the passengers are later treated as if they stepped off a domestic flight at JFK.
On the trip back, the aircraft has the 3km long runway of JFK to takeoff from so it can fly with full tanks, including the special extra tanks developed for the A318. As the route has predominant tailwinds, the range of the BA A318 will be enough for the 3,100nm sector.
SWISS Airlines CS100
SWISS equipped all their CS100 with the strongest PW1500G engine, the PW1524G with 23,300lbf takeoff thrust. AirBaltic, on the contrary, is satisfied with the 21,000lbf version for the larger CS300. The stronger engine is necessary to gain as much takeoff weight possible from the short London City Airport.
SWISS presently flies to and from Zurich, Geneva and Basel to London City with their AVRO 100 aircraft.
Swiss configured the CS100 with a high-density cabin with 125 seats. This means the aircraft can takeoff with up to 12.5 tonnes of payload. Paired with an empty weight of around 36 tonnes for the CS100, it does not leave much for fuel as the maximum takeoff weights that can be achieved with the strongest engines is around 50 tonnes.
Operations with CS100 from London City
In our next article, we will use takeoff performance data for the CS100 together with our proprietary performance model to explore the kind of route that the CS100 can fly from London City Airport. We will also look at what arrangements will be needed for a trans-Atlantic service.