Airfields & Flight Training
What's happening at our airfields, aerodromes & airports
Legal threat to Manston re-opening, refurbished glass-cockpit C152s, new sims
■ Manston re-opening plan under review
The decision by the Secretary of State for Transport to approve the re-opening of Manston Airport has been placed under judicial review. Solicitors Kate Harrison and Susan Ring of Harrison Grant have agreed to act on behalf of Jenny Dawes, a local resident who is challenging the Development Consent Order (DCO) to reopen the airport.
Manston Airport has been disused since it was formally closed in 2014. After its closure, a plan had been put forward to re-open the airport as a dedicated air freight hub, a scheme that had found the backing of the Secretary of State for Transport. However, in the claim issued on 19 August, Harrison Grant (a firm specializing in planning law) contends that the Secretary of State’s analysis was flawed. In addition, according to the legal filing, the Secretary of State breached section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008 by failing to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least one hundred percent lower than the 1990 baseline (‘Net Zero’).
Under the DCO, Riveroak Strategic Partners plans to reopen the airport in a £300m project which would create an air freight hub with passenger services and business aviation facilities. The plans also include a training academy and apprenticeship schemes in the aviation industry.
■ First landing of an UAS at major international airport
An Israel Aerospace Industries (Iai)-produced Heron unmanned aerial system (UAS) made history on 16 September, when it became the first UAS to land at a major international airport and be integrated in civilian airspace alongside commercial flights. The medium-altitude, longendurance (MALE) UAS departed Ein Shemer airfield in northern Israel and touched down at Ben Gurion International Airport, which in 2019 handled twentyfour million passengers and is Israel’s busiest aerodrome.
The UAS operated alongside commercial flights in civilian airspace around the airport during its arrival and departure. The entire flight – including takeoff and landing – was operated from the control station at the departure airfield of Ein Shemer.
Moshe Levy, executive vice president and general manager of IAI’S Military Aircraft Group, said: “The future of the world of aviation will need to allow unmanned aerial vehicles to land at civilian airports, and today this happened for the first time thanks to the hard and joint work of the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel and the Israel Airports Authority. This is a great achievement for IAI in the UAS arena.”
The company added that the historic landing ‘proves the maturity and safety of the vehicle’s operating system’, which allows the aircraft to take-off and land automatically on long-haul routes with ranges upwards of 1,500km. It employs satellite communications technology and a combination of accurate takeoff and automatic landing capabilities to achieve this.
The Heron is currently in operational military service with several countries, and has been designed to conduct long strategic missions even in severe weather.
■ APPG-GA critical of new planning rules
The All-party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG-GA) has indicated it is concerned about the lack of protection for airfields within the newly proposed changes to planning rules in the UK.
Lord Davies of Gower, CoChair of the group, has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to seek clarification on the status of airfields under the planned changes.
The reforms, announced on 6 August, aim to make it easier for developers to build new housing. Specifically, under the new system, areas of land would be designated for either growth, renewal or protection by local planners.
Commenting on the proposals, Lord Davies said “It is currently unclear how the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government [MHCLG] plans to categorise airfields under its new system. The aviation community has learned from bitter experience that airfields are already an all too tempting prospect for local authorities and housing developers. We want to make sure that the new system does not make it easier for runways to be converted into suburbs”.
The consultation on proposals for the new system ends on 29 October, and any changes will then need to be written into legislation before the first round of plans can be submitted under the new system. The APPG-GA sees this phase of policymaking as a crucial opportunity to improve the situation for airfields.
Lord Davies said “These proposals do represent a real opportunity to address the problems airfields face under the current system. We want to see a system where sites are protected for use as airfields as part of a national strategic network – but we also want airfields to have some planning flexibility to develop and diversify their businesses without undue constraint. Once an airfield disappears, one is never built to replace it. As an industry, GA cannot afford to lose any more of its vital network of airfields. This is why we need to get the right deal for airfields out of this latest policy process.”