|Code||IATA: STN, ICAO: EGSS|
|Location||Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex|
Stansted is a hub for a number of major European low-cost carriers, being the largest base for low-cost giant Ryanair with over 100 destinations served by the airline. In 2011 it was the fourth-busiest airport in the United Kingdom, exceeded only by Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester. Stansted's runway is also used by private companies such as the Harrods Aviation terminal, which is opposite the main terminal building and handles private jets and some state visits.
The airport is owned and operated by BAA, which also owns and operates five other UK airports, However, in March 2009, the UK Competition Commission ruled that BAA must sell Stansted within two years, a decision quashed within a year, but later upheld.
Stansted Airport has one main passenger terminal, near the village of Stansted Mountfitchet. There are three passenger satellites in which the departure gates are situated, one is connected to the main terminal by an air-bridge and the other two by the Stansted Airport Transit System people-mover.
The terminal building was designed by Foster Associates with input from the structural engineer Peter Rice and features a "floating" roof, supported by a space frame of inverted-pyramid roof trusses, creating the impression of a stylised swan in flight. The base of each truss structure is a "utility pillar", which provides indirect uplighting illumination and is the location for air-conditioning, water, telecommunications and electrical outlets. The layout of the airport is designed to provide an unobstructed flow for passengers to arrive at the short-stay car park, move through the check-in hall, go through security and on to the departure gates all on the same level.
From 1997 to 2007 Stansted saw rapid expansion of passenger numbers on the back of the boom in low cost air travel, peaking at 24 million passengers in the 12 months to October 2007, but since then passenger numbers have been in decline. The passenger total in 2011 fell to 18 million, a 2.8% reduction compared with 2010.
Terminal and satellite buildings
Stansted is the newest passenger airport of all the main "London" airports. The terminal is an oblong glass building, and is separated in to three areas: Check-in concourse, arrivals and departures. There are no gates in the main terminal building; instead, there are three separate oblong satellite buildings in which the gates are located, with a fourth satellite building under construction. Two satellite buildings are reached by transit trains taking passengers from the departure hall and to the arrivals hall in the main terminal building. The third satellite building is not operated by the transit system, but is connected to the terminal building by a walkway.
Stansted's air traffic control tower is amongst the tallest in Britain and was the tallest at the time of its construction. It is located at the north east of the airfield just south of the terminal building. Its height is necessary as it needs to be able to view satellite 3 clearly as that's where almost half of Stansted's aircraft movements occur. Like most control towers in the UK, it can be seen from miles away, due to its height. All of the glass windows on the control tower have green tinted glass, which matches the windows on all the satellite buildings. This control tower has replaced the old control tower which has now been demolished. It was located to the west of the airfield, was very small and low with poor views of the new terminal parking areas. Thus a new control tower was needed because Stansted has grown massively since the new Terminal was opened to passengers in 1991.
There are several cargo buildings and hangars around the airfield. The main cargo centre is located by the control tower and handles most cargo operations, including aircraft such as the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 and the Boeing 747. There are a small number of hangars on the other side of the runway to the rest of the airport. The largest are located at the south east of the airfield, one of which is used by Ryanair and is able to hold up to five of their Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
- Rail: Stansted Airport railway station is below the terminal building, with rail services to Cambridge, Leicester and the Midlands and the Stansted Express to and from Liverpool Street station in London every 15 minutes.
- Buses and coaches run locally and long distance
- Road: Stansted is close to the M11 motorway to London and Cambridge, and the A120 to Braintree, Colchester and Harwich.
Second World War
The airfield opened in 1943 and was used during the Second World War as RAF Stansted Mountfitchet by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Force as a bomber airfield and as a major maintenance depot. Although the official name was Stansted Mountfitchet, the base was known as simply Stansted in both written and spoken form.
The station was first allocated to the USAAF Eighth Air Force in August 1942 as a heavy bomber airfield. As well as an operational bomber base, Stansted was also an ATSC maintenance and supply depot concerned with major overhauls and modification of B-26s. After D-Day these activities were transferred to France, but the base was still used as a supply storage area for the support of aircraft on the continent.
After the withdrawal of the Americans on 12 August 1945, Stansted was taken over by the Air Ministry and used by No. 263 Maintenance Unit, RAF for storage purposes. In addition, between March 1946 and August 1947, Stansted was used for housing German prisoners of war.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation finally took control of Stansted in 1949 and the airport was then used as a base by several UK charter airlines. The US military returned in 1954 to extend the runway for a possible transfer to NATO. The transfer to NATO was never realised, however, and the airport continued in civil use, ending up under BAA Limited in 1966.
During the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s the Fire Service Training School (FSTS) was based on the eastern side of the airfield under the auspices of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, now the Civil Aviation Authority. The school was responsible for the training of all aviation fire crews for British airfields as well as those of many overseas countries.
Beginning in 1966, after Stansted was placed under the British Airports Authority, the airport was used by holiday charter operators wishing to escape the higher costs associated with operating from Heathrow and Gatwick. From the outset, however, the BAA and the government planned to develop Stansted into London's third airport, to relieve Heathrow and Gatwick of excess congestion in the future. The airport's first terminal building opened in 1969 and was expanded the next year to handle the growing number of passengers. The British Airports Authority was privatised as BAA plc in 1986.
In 1984, the government approved a plan to develop Stansted in two phases, involving both airfield and terminal improvements that would increase the airport's capacity to 15 million passengers per year. Construction of the current terminal building began in 1988 and was completed in March 1991, and was designed by the internationally acclaimed Lord Foster. At the time it was the most modern airport complex in the world and cost £100 million.
Long-haul scheduled services commenced in the early 1990s.
Since 1984 the airport's capacity had been limited to a maximum throughput of 25 million passengers a year (25 mppa) in accordance with recommendations made by the 1984 public inquiry and confirmed by the government of the day. A major expansion programme to the existing terminal took place between 2007 and 2009, adding nearly 63,500 square feet of floorspace to give space for additional baggage carousels, a new immigration and passport control hall and a hypostyle arrivals hall with improved facilities.
- UK airports owned and operated by BAA
- "BAA loses final Competition Commission sell-off ruling". BBC News. 19 July 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14196639. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
- "The future". London Stansted Airport. http://www.stanstedairport.com/about-us/airport-improvements/the-future. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- "Stansted Airport Control Tower - MDA Consulting". http://www.mdaconsulting.co.uk/consulting/transport-and-utilities/stansted-airport-control-tower. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
- Above Us The Skies: The Story Of BAA – 1991 (Michael Donne – BAA plc), p. 62-63
- Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-80-0
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of Second World War. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers—1908 to present
- The Bishop's Stortford Herald newspaper, 26 April 2007.
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