London Gatwick’s New Rapid Exit Taxiway

easyJet Vacating at Gatwick
Photo Credit: London Gatwick Airport

Last month, London Gatwick began using its new Rapid Exit Taxiway (RET) with aims to reduce delays and improve emissions.

This article will cover the details of London Gatwick’s (LGW) new Rapid Exit Taxiway and how it’ll improve operations for the airport.

London Gatwick’s New RET

Photo Credit: Gatwick Airport by Thomas Nugent, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Forming part of the VINCI Airports’ network, London Gatwick back in February 2024 opened its new Rapid Exit Taxiway (RET).

The new rapid exit taxiway joins between runway 26L and the northern runway 26R that’s used as a taxiway. FR (Foxtrot Romeo) is the new exit that has been opened just past the half way point on the runway. This is between ER (Echo Romeo) and GR (Golf Romeo).

In just the first four days of operations, the new taxiway was utilised by 56% of arriving aircraft.

Prior to the new taxiway being in place, a good chunk of arrivals narrowly missed the first taxiway to exit. Usually this would happen in different weather conditions that would affect braking performance, or the aircraft were heavier than normal.

This extended landing rollout missing the first taxiway meant that some aircraft would take an extra 20 seconds or more. This was due to the distance to the next vacation taxiway.

With this new taxiway, ATC (Air Traffic Controllers) can now have more confidence in sequencing landing aircraft. This will help reduce delays and go-arounds. Not only this, but it will also reduce holding times for departing aircraft.

All of this will mean that London Gatwick’s emissions and noise is further reduced.

Senior Comments

Commenting on the new Rapid Exit Taxiway, the Transformation Programme Lead for London Gatwick, Gavin Sillitto, has said, “Every project where you are building next to a live runway is complex, but we have a great result thanks to fantastic teamwork across the airport and with our contractor, PJ Hegarty.”

“For aircraft exiting the runway, it is like the speed of turning onto a motorway slip road rather than onto a suburban street.”

“Putting an exit in a place which is natural for how pilots normally brake, that can handle aircraft exiting safely at higher speeds, increasing resilience, reducing delays and limiting carbon and noise emissions.”

Adding to Sillitto’s comments, the Senior Project Manager for London Gatwick, Andrew Isted, says, “As this project was paused during Covid, we used the period prior to restarting to undertake a Value Engineering phase to rationalise and optimise the design. Carried out alongside AtkinsRéalis and PJ Hegarty, we targeted areas where we believed the greatest gains could be achieved. We challenged our standards, constraints and reviewed geometrical requirements. ”

“This generated significant savings in pavement thickness and area, drainage requirements and existing pavement breakout, to name a few. We were delighted to complete the project with no impact to or complaints from the local community, with our contractors operating carefully and safely, and often at night, in a busy operational environment.”

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By Jamie Clarke 4 Min Read
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