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Flying Club/tuition shuts down in Aberdeen

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Flying Club/tuition shuts down in Aberdeen

Old 20th Jul 2008, 00:43
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Flying Club/tuition shuts down in Aberdeen

Unfortunately, the Flying Club at Aberdeen, such as it was, has been shut down. Bit of a no brainer after Signature put the parking fees up 840%.

Email came out on Friday night - the last few sentances sum it up:

"The fact is that large airports and large commercial operators/handling agents simply do not want Flying Clubs on their airports. This massive and unreasonable rent increase reinforces this fact but sadly there is nothing we can do."

At 16+ per touch & go, it's hardly been a hive of training activity anyway with most people going to Inverness/Dundee - but it's a shame, and for everyone still parking there, it's one less voice. Aberdeen must be one of the most isolated places to be a non-group/owning PPL now, with Dundee the nearest bet.

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Old 20th Jul 2008, 07:03
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That's life!

The answer is simple, vote with your feet and go somewhere where you will be welcomed as a valuable customer. Aberdeen is a commercial airport and not really suited to the needs of pleasure flying.

There are a few airfields around that are much better suited.

And before someone bangs on about why should they have to travel long distances to fly etc, it's like owning a yacht and living in the middle of the country.....you WILL have to travel.

The other choice of course is to move closer to a nice airfield

Oh and lastly I do not live in Aberdeen or work for the airport or Signature.

Fly for fun (somewhere nice)

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Old 20th Jul 2008, 08:56
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It's not 'life' it's stupid airport management.

None of these airports are so busy they cannot accomodate GA.

The only one which would qualify for that would be Heathrow, and Gatwick. However Gatwick could easily accomodate GA during its quiet periods (of which it has plenty).

It's the same thing as the yellow jacket attitude. Or ISO9000
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Old 20th Jul 2008, 09:39
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Sad to hear the last flying club is closing. It is horrid flying somewhere that you are not welcome and it sounds like we were no longer welcome at Aberdeen. Like the Model club, gliding Club and University air Squadron who moved on years ago (all used to be at Dyce) private flying will survive in another form. I hope some of the displaced aviators will try Deeside Gliding Club and enjoy the challenging and fuel efficient flying that the club and its excellent fleet offer at amazingly low prices in a friendly environment.
b b
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Old 20th Jul 2008, 22:33
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Whats happening to the rest of the syndicate and group aircraft parked at the flying club, are they being ousted too?
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Old 20th Jul 2008, 23:26
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As far as I know as long as you keep paying the fee's then you can stay.

Very sad, I remember a thriving club with around 200 active member's in the early to mid 90's.

They are betting on the new Donald Trump golf complex, and and they smell the money that they assume will come pouring in with squadrons of Gulfstreams and BBJ's from the States; therefore they really don't want flying club people hanging around. Aberdeen may be pretty busy at the moment with the orgy of oil related flights, but as before, it wont last and will soon return to a barron airfield with the occasional Jetstream from Eastern! Sadly GA will be pretty much gone.
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Old 20th Jul 2008, 23:30
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Yeah I remember the last Signature price hike.....strangely enough it was announced the day after Mr Trump proposed his golf course development! There was obviously no option but to oust the local cessna and piper contingent to make way for some heavy metal biz jets and corporate aircraft
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Old 20th Jul 2008, 23:32
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That's life!

The answer is simple, vote with your feet and go somewhere where you will be welcomed as a valuable customer. Aberdeen is a commercial airport and not really suited to the needs of pleasure flying.

There are a few airfields around that are much better suited.

And before someone bangs on about why should they have to travel long distances to fly etc, it's like owning a yacht and living in the middle of the country.....you WILL have to travel.

The other choice of course is to move closer to a nice airfield

Oh and lastly I do not live in Aberdeen or work for the airport or Signature.

Fly for fun
So where do you suggest in that area that has a licenced field available for flight training? Or Instrument procedures for IMC ratings etc?

Where else should the members and students go? We aren't talking about the South East of England here.

Greedy airport management and a total lack of understanding of what GA can do for an airport. ABZ isn't exactly the busiest place, so why force off needed revenue?

Oh well, I suppose people will just have to move off to grass strips that while beautiful, tend to be not so great in the middle of a wet Scottish winter.
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Old 21st Jul 2008, 01:28
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ABZ

I have done some instructing at ABZ and am an FO based there.

It is a sad fact that as commercial aviation becomes busier that large airfields do not want GA there.

I instructed at grampian for a a few months when I got based in ABZ. It did not have any staff or real facilities to operate as a full time school and the student base was my colleagues girlfriend. This, couple with what I understand to be unreasonable price rises proved to be an inevitable outcome.

The problem is that there are no close alternatives. I could only look for part time FI work at dundee ot perth. The drive would be not worth the hassle on my day off. Most FI's know about hanging around a school for 10 hours in the day waiting for the weather to pick up and eventually doing 0-30 minutes of instructing. So, for people wanting to do a PPL on a week-end after working all week the drive on the off chance of a lesson might seem a little too restricting.

Bear in mind that ABZ is very north the landscape cannot accommodate the multitude of airfields that dotted around more temperate regions. Even though this part of the world is stunning to fly around.

I hope that eventually someone will get an airfield near the city of aberdeen , develop it (licensed) and open a club. Although, in reality I do not think that will happen in the near future. If it does happen, I would be the first to throw my FI rating into the in tray.
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Old 21st Jul 2008, 08:22
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Signatures price increase has been a major contributor but I also have to say other factors have contributed equally if not more so. I learned at Aberdeen Flying club pre Flight Academy and it was a buzzing organisation with a full time receptionist at the desk, half a dozen instructors with at least two on duty nearly all the time. Weekends were wall to wall bookings for 2 C152's and a C172 both for tuition and gift vouchers.

The Flight Academy fiasco is well documented but even they tried to run it as a club with dedicated instructors and a receptionist.

Grampian basically delayed the inevitable taking over from Flight Academy butr never really established the organisation as a flying club. Although initially there was someone to take bookings etc this seemed to be on a casual basis and gradually it became more and more difficult to get an instructor. The web based booking system they had was excellent for PPL's who hire and I used them quite a bit during the last year for rental of the Warrior. However given the reduction of any structure as a club to zero it has become difficult if not impossible to get any training and Gift Vouchers often having to wait some time for an instructor to get their flight. In addition quite a few of the regular renters have joined groups removing that income stream. Throw the recent weather into the mix and suddenly the Signature cost becomes a major factor with little income.

Their email mentions that they have managed to operate in profit until the last quarter but flying out of ABZ in another synidicate I can see how infrequently the Warrior is flown these days and it seems that with little income stream closure was inevitable.

I just hope this does not spell the beginning of the end for GA in Aberdeen - as well as being a terrific place to fly around, the training and experience that you get flying in this environment is excellent.
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Old 21st Jul 2008, 08:31
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Sad news indeed. As mentioned by others, where else can one go within a reasonable travelling time? Deeside, Dundee, Longside and Insch (?) are all one hour plus in the car.
When I trained at Aberdeen, Montrose and Fordoun were available and were ideal for circuit training.
Considering the changeable weather in that part of the Country, GA needs dependable access to approach aids.
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Old 21st Jul 2008, 10:43
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Since about 1990 Aberdeen has seen about seven different owners of the flying school/club, some good, some bad and one in particular very well documented on here in recent years! But the same problems beset them all, busy airport with long times spent holding at busy periods, high fuel prices, lost flying days because of poor weather or wind direction and runway orientation, lack of local maintenance etc etc.

My friends at Grampian new that something had to change for any sort of club to survive, they tried to reduce costs by not employing full time office staff and instructors. The hourly rate did go up by quite a lot more than in previous years and indeed compared to other schools, so they tried to offset that by at least providing members with what they had been asking for, two fairly nice PA28's. They had been growing bored with old C150's and 152's. It was never going to be as busy a school as it had been in it's hey day in the early 90's, but the aim was to try and hang on in there, keep GA alive in ABZ, at least until they were thrown out by the Airport for good. They were managing this, only just, and I'm sure would have continued to do so for as long as people wanted to rent the aircraft or have the occasional lesson. Sadly as mentioned above, the fuel prices, parking and landing charges became too much for anybody to cope with.

If only somebody could turn the old RAF Edzell site back into a nice little GA airfield. I reckon it would do well. Well away from controlled airspace, close to Aberdeen and Dundee, lovely tarmac runways, no BAA, no commercial ATC and you could even attract smaller biz jet aircraft in.

We can but dream

P.S I should add, that in fairness to Signature, the previous owners of the school shafted them for over 8k in unpaid fuel charges then buggered off leaving a trail of destruction behind them all the way to the central belt! I suspect that a fair bit of damage was caused by that incident and probably tarnished the reputation of light aviation in these parts.

Last edited by youngskywalker; 21st Jul 2008 at 11:20.
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Old 21st Jul 2008, 11:01
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Very sad news. Yet another flying club needlessly shafted by small-minded airport management and "handling" parasites.

Signature of course at their very best.

Just a wee thought to ponder: with airport charges ever-increasing, what can we do to fight this? I fear that as a minority we (i.e. GA) would seem to be devoid of a voice and certainly too small to be taken notice of by business. However surely we can collectively stand up and put up a fight instead of sitting moaning here on PPRuNe? Many commercial operators are sick of high charges so why doesn't aviation collectively take a stand against it?

Smithy
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Old 21st Jul 2008, 12:07
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One would think if the fuel was supplied through the FBO it would be in their interest for the club to keep going.
After all 2% of something is better than 100% of bugger all.
DO.
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Old 21st Jul 2008, 20:17
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I agree Signature appear to be looking to concentrate on the bizjets, assuming Trumpie gets his golfing utopia & assuming they will come if permission to build is given. With Nicklaus & Lawrie also building courses, Signature maybe think it'll be bizjet heaven at ABZ!

Perhaps Signature are expecting a bizzie boom from when BA pull out of ABZ as is the rumour!
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Old 21st Jul 2008, 20:36
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Heh heh! Perhaps.

One thing I have never understood is why is GA (the light end, not BizJets) regarded as such a nuisance at bigger airfields? I understand concerns about approach traffic etc. - it's no mean feat mixing SEPs with 757s and Dash-8s - but surely this is not the sole reason? The ATC controllers at EDI do a wonderful job of mixing light aircraft with the heavies and it all works well.

What was Signature's reason for the 840% hike in price? Did they give a reason?
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Old 22nd Jul 2008, 10:10
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It's more about image!
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Old 22nd Jul 2008, 10:15
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Has AOPA been approached about this?

Rod1
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Old 23rd Jul 2008, 09:25
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Hi All

Was in ABZ (handled by Signature) the other day. Crap weather was clearing late afternoon enough for a PA28-161 to go off with a PPL checkout, so I guess they are still renting out there.

There are 2 small offices in the Signature 'FBO' - AKA portakabin - for the GA operation to use I belive. It's a shame that the GA guys and girls are being ousted here as there really are no other local options.

As a bizjet pilot (and GA instructor) Signature - if you are charging all of this money to GA why not cut the grass in front of your extensively refurbished 'FBO'... It would help the GA guys and look better to your bizjet passengers and crews upon arrival.

Good luck to all of you GA people in ABZ.
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Old 24th Jul 2008, 13:39
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If the numbers I was told are true then the increase in cost for the Flying Club per month (840%) equated to approx one hours flying revenue. If that is true - is that alone really enough to put the club out of business?

Little infrastructue in place for training, no one manning the desk to take bookings / calls, no full time instructors, ad hoc instructors who have other flying jobs so difficult to get a hold of, cost of fuel and cost of lessons / renting club aircraft, decreasing client base ....... Hmmm
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