Oxford Airport's virtual runway extension OK'd

 - August 4, 2008, 9:50 AM

The UK’s Oxford Airport has been approved to increase its licensed runway length by 10 percent to 4,327 feet. This promises to increase significantly the use of the airport by executive charter and public-transport operations.

Privately licensed corporate operators have been able routinely to use Oxford’s full 5,092 feet of runway, but all commercial flights are restricted to the officially licensed runway length of the airport. Business jets as large as the G500, Falcon 900 and Challengers have been able to achieve transatlantic range out of Oxford, which is located about 55 miles northwest of London.

The licensed length of Oxford’s runway is limited by its 75-foot width, which places it in the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s Code 2 category and officially restricts it to just 3,937 feet of takeoff length. However, CAA officials have now informed Oxford that it is entitled to a further 10-percent dispensation, taking the licensed length to 4,327 feet. Private operators are not bound by these restrictions, with individual captains free to use the full runway length if they see fit.

According to Oxford Airport managing director Steve Jones, the extension will allow at least 15 more business aircraft models to use the field under public-transport rules. These include the CitationJet, Citation II/Bravo and Citation 560 and 650 series; Hawker 700, 800 and 1000; Global Express, Challenger and Learjet 31, 35 and 45; Gulfstream 100 and G500; Falcon 50, 2000 and 900; and Boeing Business Jet.

In an announcement made on July 10, the airport said that “of the 25 or so current production business jet models, 17 can now do charter operations into Oxford, while all can easily take off out of Oxford with transatlantic range.” The additional runway length also boosts the maximum fuel load and range of several types. For example, the Hawker 800 can now take off with an additional 400 pounds of fuel, which could deliver as much as 1,200 miles of extra range.

Privately owned Oxford Airport is now seeking to position itself as a gateway for business aircraft heading for southern and central England. It claims to offer landing and handling fees that are about half of those charged by other London-area airports, such as Farnborough and Luton.