Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
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#1718826
I am visiting the UK (from Singapore). It is forecast to be great flying weather tomorrow (Sunday) so planned to fly up to Duxford with some friends and visit the IWM. Called Duxford tower for PPR only to be told it was closed "due to ATC shortages". Am I alone in finding this absolutely extraordinary, not to say unacceptable?

I then called Cambridge instead, Turns out that is also closed for the same reason (but they had no idea Duxford was closed also). Then I called Execujet Cambridge to see if it was even possible to pay megabucks for handling and get the airfield to open for one arrival / departure, but same response and they didn't seem terribly concerned (even though the airfield closure is costing them in lost business and revenue)

If there is so little traffic that airfields can afford to close on a summer weekend instead of manning the tower, isn't it time to instigated non-towered field procedures as we have in other parts of the world (Australia and USA for example)?

It seems extraordinary that the GA community in UK are accepting these shutdowns,. I see lots of discussion bemoaning the loss of GA airfields around UK, but no discussion on why ATC is required at low traffic density airfields. Why isn't there a push for untowered airports in UK?
#1718830
Welcome to the great East Anglian Aviation Desert

Try Old Buckenham to see how aviation should be done

Or Cromer and get a taxi into Cromer a quintessentially English seaside town and feast on Cromer Crab and stroll along the beach

There’s even Norwich a fine city with bus into town or taxi to the nearest Broad and hire a day boat.

All is not completely lost

Good luck

Peter (E Anglian resident)
JAFO liked this
#1718837
How do you suggest we go about it?


Seems to me changing the culture of meek acceptance would be a good start. These are public facilities that have been paid for by tax payers money are they not? They should be open for use.

Whilst I am sure there will be lots of '"you just don't understand the full picture and how complicated it is due to [take your pick of: licensing / politics / unions / Health & Safety / planning permission / Nimbys]" the fact is that non-towered airports are entirely normal in many parts of the world. Duxford is in class G airspace. How difficult is it to simply publish the procedures and announce that it is open for business; sans ATC?

Why is AOPA UK not voicing it's concern about this? (I am a member and I plan to ask them later today)
#1718839
Tropical John2 wrote: Called Duxford tower for PPR only to be told it was closed "due to ATC shortages".


If there is so little traffic that airfields can afford to close on a summer weekend instead of manning the tower, isn't it time to instigated non-towered field procedures as we have in other parts of the world (Australia and USA for example)?


Duxford is Aerodrome Flight Information Service (AFIS) not ATC.
Cambridge I understand is simply short of staff as are many airfields in the UK who normally provide ATC for their customers.
The CAA in the UK require a certain minimum level of Air Traffic Service to be provided at licensed airfields such as these and for flights requiring a licensed airfield, all services must be in operation.
It's up to the airfield operators really. Many private and recreational pilots would be quite happy to operate to from an unlicensed airfield where there is no-one answering the RTF, but if the airfield operator decides to close through fear of litigation (as their insurance policy wouldn't cover this type of operation) there's little that can be done.
Last edited by chevvron on Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
#1718840
Tropical John2 wrote:
How do you suggest we go about it?


Seems to me changing the culture of meek acceptance would be a good start. These are public facilities that have been paid for by tax payers money are they not? They should be open for use.

No they're not; most (including the two you mention) are privately owned.
Only military airfields and a dwindling number of municipal airfields are 'paid for by taxpayers money' unlike in other countries.
#1718842
You can't magic controllers out of thin air!..........Rhe problem dates back to lack of foresight and greed!

It takes lots of money to train anybody.....Even the checkout-till operator! In a profession like ATC, (and AFIS) management and shareholders alike, are unwilling to make such a large investment.- so there's a shortage. The smaller- players rely on the trickle-down from the big ones who actually do train.

In years gone by, trainees were tied to a 5-year apprenticeship the wages were poor, but they learned a skilled job and employment was secure in all but the most outrageous misbehaviours .

It is well- documented that, upon "passing- out" as fully- qualified, many were sacked, as the (usually declining) business could not afford the much higher wages.

Pilots are , effectively "bonded" They pay their own training and have to earn that back, as well as make a living -wage.

Perhaps a similar system should be introduced for ATC/AFIS. Pay for your course of training, get paid a higher wage to allow you to recoup your outlay.....
but then the smaller places couldn't afford the costs........It's a vicious circle, isn't it? :(
By johnm
#1718844
Few airfields in the U.K. are publicly owned CAA gold plate the rules, people try and sue if something goes wrong. Welcome to the wonderful world of 21st century U.K. :roll:
#1718849
A couple of weekends ago we thought of a nice lunch at Clacton beach.
But many airfields have become PPR and so if they don’t answer the phone you can’t go.
Went to Leicester instead.

It is apparent to me that aviation here is suffering from the actions of some who are inactively involved in it.

If I understand it correctly, flying training can once again be done from unlicensed airfields and without an AFISO or ATC, or Fire Cover.

What was the number of serious accidents that made the safety case for the regulations requiring licensed airfields?

In Canada nearly all the airfields would be unlicensed here in England. No ATC, no fire cover, and only basic radio unless a Mandatory Frequency is published due to there being an IFR approach published for that uncontrolled field.

The amount of ‘service’ should reflect the amount of demand.
Uncontrolled airfields could have honesty boxes for a £5 landing fee, lowered for the lack of need for so much staff.
Cameras could record arrivals to ensure everyone is honest.

I remember nordo flying and welcomes at uncontrolled fields with a cup of tea, or a glass of wine (France).
Driving uncontrolled cars to roadside cafés (or worse: McDonald’s), without radio, and using hands free mobiles is far more hazardous than a little aeroplane flying into an uncontrolled field.
Stampe liked this
#1718850
cockney steve wrote:
Perhaps a similar system should be introduced for ATC/AFIS. Pay for your course of training, get paid a higher wage to allow you to recoup your outlay.....
but then the smaller places couldn't afford the costs........It's a vicious circle, isn't it? :(

A scheme did exist years ago involving 'bonding' for the first 5 years of employment by NATS in order to recoup the money spent on training them.
It was specifically aimed at experienced ex military controllers wishing to gain a civil ATCO License, however I think it was dropped because so many were resigning before the 5 year bond was up (willing to be corrected if I'm wrong but I know one who resigned and went to Cambridge and NATS never did collect their bond back).
I don't know what it costs to train a controller for ADI/ADV and APS ratings nowadays; £50K, £100K?
#1718853
MichaelP wrote:It is apparent to me that aviation here is suffering from the actions of some who are inactively involved in it.

If I understand it correctly, flying training can once again be done from unlicensed airfields and without an AFISO or ATC, or Fire Cover.

Not 'any' unlicensed airfield, only those approved by the CAA.
As for those who are 'inactively involved' in it, they're usually beancounters whose insurance companies will refuse to cover them unless certain minimum requirements are met and are therefore afraid of litigation should it all go wrong.
#1718855
You can't magic controllers out of thin air!


You miss my point. Why do you need controllers at a low traffic density airfield located in Class G airspace? Let them go off to where they are needed, and free up GA from unnecessary over-regulation.
#1718857
most (including the two you mention) are privately owned

Few airfields in the U.K. are publicly owned


According to their website: IWM Duxford receives just under half of its annual funding as grant-in-aid from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). That sounds like "taxpayers money" to me.
JAFO, Katamarino, mikeblyth and 3 others liked this
#1718862
Tropical John2 wrote:
You can't magic controllers out of thin air!


You miss my point. Why do you need controllers at a low traffic density airfield located in Class G airspace? Let them go off to where they are needed, and free up GA from unnecessary over-regulation.

As I said before, it's up to the CAA; they can require a minimum level of air traffic service to be in operation.
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