26 JANUARY 2015
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Following a High Court hearing brought about by Biggin Hill and Oxford airports, civil aircraft control at Royal Air Force stations could be brought under the regulatory authority of the CAA. At present executive jets at RAF Northolt, the Falklands services at Biggin Hill and the scheduled Cardiff flights into Anglesey Airport (RAF Valley) all operate to military guidelines rather than their civil counterparts.
This ruling opens up a can of worms with the Royal Squadron’s BAe 146s classed as military, whilst the same type of aircraft flown as a charter is categorised as civil. It is incongruous to think that flights for the Queen operate to any lesser standard than that of her subjects.
The hearing will not have made any difference to the number of civil movements presently allowed at Northolt (12,000) nor its possible use again as a scheduled airport with the present runway 1687m long, easily reduced to the 1199m of London City.
It is said that the cost of changing RAF St Mawgan into Newquay-Cornwall civil airport was £64m, a staggering amount, which from a practical point of view has made no difference to operational nor safety standards. A suggestion has been made to use funds announced last week by the Department for Transport for regional route development. (see in this issue) www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2015/24.html
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