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Biggin Hill Airport To Cut Light Aircraft Activity- Cuts ALL training

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Biggin Hill Airport To Cut Light Aircraft Activity- Cuts ALL training

Old 15th Mar 2018, 10:19
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by alex90 View Post
Just a month or so ago, they issued a statement saying they were committed to GA.... I don't understand why they are not honest and say why they want us out!
Because last month they thought putting up the costs would deter light GA. Didn't work so now they are being honest as this effectively says they don't want us.

Watch others follow suit as I bet that AOPA and all the other organisations in which we place our faith will be totally powerless to stop this.

AOPA, APPG for GA, GAIN, GAAC - all hot air with no substance.
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Old 15th Mar 2018, 17:47
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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I think there's a slight bit of confusion concerning just which tenants have been given notice. It's the three flying training operators.

I'm not up to date with how many light a/c are still based at Biggin but from what I read none of those have been served notice.

So, whilst sad for those who will lose out, I don't see this as an attempt to remove all lighter GA residents.
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Old 15th Mar 2018, 19:07
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by CloudHound View Post
I think there's a slight bit of confusion concerning just which tenants have been given notice. It's the three flying training operators.

I'm not up to date with how many light a/c are still based at Biggin but from what I read none of those have been served notice.

So, whilst sad for those who will lose out, I don't see this as an attempt to remove all lighter GA residents.
They just don't want those nasty circuit bashing types getting in the way of their more lucrative bizjet clients.
Must do some research to see what wartime RLGs there were near Biggin; obviously none operated by Biggin as it wasn't an FTS.
Gravesend would be ideal as an RLG; bit further north maybe Hornchurch or even Fairlop, but these were all fighter stations too.
Biggin traffic sometimes operated over the Isle of Sheppey when I did Farnborough East; used to annoy Manston Radar (moaned at me about it once; screaming NW wind and their excuse was it got in the way of their IAPs on runway 11!) but there are a couple of strips there that might be suitable (Eastchurch and a.n. other)
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Old 15th Mar 2018, 19:33
  #24 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by flyingman-of-kent View Post

The Airport also said that this was a difficult decision for them to take given the longstanding nature of some of the training schools, but that they are no longer able to mix a high volume of light aviation with growing business aviation whilst maintaining high levels of customer service and all importantly, flight safety.
Staverton seems to manage very well with a good mix along with a lot of RAF movements and approach training and they handle about 90,000 movements a year I believe...
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Old 15th Mar 2018, 21:19
  #25 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by BirdmanBerry View Post
Staverton seems to manage very well with a good mix along with a lot of RAF movements and approach training and they handle about 90,000 movements a year I believe...
With all due respect, Gloucester Airport (which I think should be called Gloster in honour of the local planemakers) is not hemmed in by Class D airspace north and south and Class A airspace less than 2000ft above the aerodrome, neither is it at one end of a 'Mig Alley' between the CTR/CTAs of two major airports.
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Old 15th Mar 2018, 22:08
  #26 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by CloudHound View Post
I think there's a slight bit of confusion concerning just which tenants have been given notice. It's the three flying training operators.

I'm not up to date with how many light a/c are still based at Biggin but from what I read none of those have been served notice.

So, whilst sad for those who will lose out, I don't see this as an attempt to remove all lighter GA residents.
About a month ago, they increased landing fees further for all (very) light aircraft, I heard they also increased outdoor monthly parking prices. It is literally just a matter of time... Falcon Aviation who owns both Surrey & Kent and EFG, also owns both planes operated by Alouette so I would have thought that it would be silly for them to remain at Biggin and keep their training ventures at a different airport. It makes it feel as though it really only is a matter of time...

I heard rumours of complaints of the level of proficiency from some light GA pilots (both private and schools) causing unnecessary stress to controllers at Biggin, now I don't know, but I would have thought that removing the local training facilities will only make it harder for based light GA to get the training / currency checks that they need.

White Waltham offers an instructor or someone who knows the circuits well to sit with you over a cup of tea, help you understand what is expected, and offers to sit in with you whilst you fly the different circuits to ensure that you are proficient (completely free of charge - unless you require serious remedial training).

is not hemmed in by Class D airspace north and south and Class A airspace less than 2000ft above the aerodrome, neither is it at one end of a 'Mig Alley' between the CTR/CTAs of two major airports.
I am sorry - but how is that relevant? How does the proximity of airspace affect their ability to cope with a very low volume of private jets mixing with a few planes doing circuits? I can understand that because they don't have ATC controllers that are allowed to clear planes for the approach, their constant need to coordinate with Thames for approaches and London Control for outbound IFR clearances is an additional workload - but surely you could hire someone whose job is coordinating for clearances as they do at most international airport (ground or clearance frequency). As mentioned above Gloster seems to be handling this relatively well, they however are able to vector planes for the approach without talking to another controlling unit. (Biggin could do this too, but they'd need to either train their staff or hire staff with the appropriate ratings as well as chat with Thames to go through their outskirt).

Sorry - I'll stop moaning now - I've had my fix!
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Old 16th Mar 2018, 01:11
  #27 (permalink)  
 
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Biggin Hill is not a charitable trust dedicated to promoting GA, it is a business that seeks to maximise its assets and also appease disgruntled locals. At the same time its landlord does not get any brownie points by 'helping' GA and wants a quiet life from the local 'electorate'. Result; GA/training will always loose out because they have no corporate clout, and no business clout to fight the situation. It is so sad that this proud bastion of fighting for freedom and protecting its country when in peril, has descended into the realms of being a 'profit centre' rather than its traditional home of aviation. Biggin has had a huge input over the years and seen its engineers and pilots making a real contribution to all levels of aviation all over the world. We are hopeless in this country at protecting such places that have nurtured the skills that 'oil the wheels', and the Oaks from Acorns scenario cuts no dice when 'Money' prevails.
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Old 16th Mar 2018, 02:23
  #28 (permalink)  
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As nice as it may be to have a convenient airport from which to fly, and possibly train, it is a costly luxury. If an airport can operate and sustain itself, while keeping user fees low, how nice! But the reality is that airplanes use a lot of costly space for their operations, and GA pilots are generally not eager to pay the costs in proportion to the use of space and services they need.

I fly over golf courses embedded in the city, on really expensive property, and again, lots of space for low density usage. But, from what my golfing buddies tell me, enough people will pay immense sums to use that special purpose property. I hardly see most GA pilot/owners happy to pay tens of thousands annually to be a member, and use the airport facilities, but there seem to be enough golfers to sustain this, and then a hundred a round on top of that!

A local to Toronto flying club is nationally known for being the only Canadian flying club to own it's airport, and it's a beauty. There are fees, and they are reasonable. Most other Toronto area airports have either closed, are forecast to close, or have welcomed in more commercial operations, which squeezes GA into less free and economical operations.

Unless you own the property, you're at the mercy of the person who does - you have to hope that they like aviation more than making money!
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Old 16th Mar 2018, 09:59
  #29 (permalink)  
 
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Well said Pilot DAR.

The same applies to village shops and pubs in the UK. Very low support for what is an expensive business to run. Nice for a few drinks at weekends but unsupported most of the time because supermarkets sell at a much lower price.

However when the facility closes down everyone complains.

GA is not a charity and if you own land the size of an airfield in the UK it is worth several millions as a housing site.

The other problem is circuit bashing annoys the neighbours.

In the case of Biggin I am sure corporate aviation income far exceeds that of flying training.
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Old 16th Mar 2018, 10:19
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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Pilot DAR has hit upon a point that many in the GA community are unaware of, that is the costs and burdens of running an airfield. I was ignorant of it myself as a pilot until I actually started working at airports and seen for myself first-hand the challenges facing especially smaller airfields where income is minimal and costs are spiralling out of control due to aging infrastructure and increasing regulatory pressures from Europe.


Firstly, unlike other countries, we do not enjoy state subsidy of airfields, due to the traditionally anti-aviation attitude of the UK Govt. So airfields have to make their own income through charges.


Secondly, airfields have many things they are obliged to provide due to regulatory pressure - RFFS & ATC/FISO, with the associated staff & Firefighting/Tels equipment and maintenance obligations, Navaids, AGL etc. - note of which comes cheap. This all has to be paid for through customers.


Thirdly, most airfields date from WW2, with buildings still in use from that era - ATC Towers, Hangars, ancillary buildings etc. - all of which due to age are requiring increasing levels of maintenance and repair, with an associated increasing cost. Replacements are far too costly to consider. I have first-hand experience of this on a day-to-day basis. Cabling on airfields also dates from WW2 in many cases, causing issues with equipment. Runways, Taxiways and Aprons also require maintenance due to wear and tear, generally an expensive business.


As all these costs have to be met through customer charges, that means landing & parking fees, approach charges, hangarage etc. None of which are popular with us. But without that the airfield simply doesn't run. Smaller airports are stuck in the rut where costs are high but they cannot increase charges for the GA community too much as it will drive away people. It's a difficult business.


Bizjets are something of a cash cow as they tend to be operated by businesses and used by weatlthy individuals who will generally speaking willingly pay the fees asked by airfields. In contrast us SEP-drivers, many of us on an average income with kids to feed and a mortgage to pay, already are under pressure at 130+/hr for a hobby so additional charges on top of that make us baulk as we can't justify it, so we won't pay.


That said, I can't see the logic in Biggin's decision, which is saddening and maddening at the same time. Unless they feel that the light GA is constraining Bizjet capacity, its not justified IMO.
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Old 16th Mar 2018, 19:01
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Pilot DAR View Post
As nice as it may be to have a convenient airport from which to fly, and possibly train, it is a costly luxury. If an airport can operate and sustain itself, while keeping user fees low, how nice! But the reality is that airplanes use a lot of costly space for their operations, and GA pilots are generally not eager to pay the costs in proportion to the use of space and services they need.

I fly over golf courses embedded in the city, on really expensive property, and again, lots of space for low density usage. But, from what my golfing buddies tell me, enough people will pay immense sums to use that special purpose property. I hardly see most GA pilot/owners happy to pay tens of thousands annually to be a member, and use the airport facilities, but there seem to be enough golfers to sustain this, and then a hundred a round on top of that!
I completely agree and understand what you are saying, but I think that I have spent an average of around 2,000 per year on landing and approach fees at Biggin Hill, this is actually only marginally more than most golf memberships that I know of within the London region (obviously excluding the thousands of pounds worth of kit). I understand that perhaps I fly more than some pilots only doing their 3 monthly circuits (which is still 700ish in landing fees a year). If the issue was that there are lots of people flying very little, perhaps they need to rethink their business model and charge fees to all based pilots rather than charge per landing / approach - similarly to White Waltham where all pilots need to be members of the aerodrome club. So yes, okay we struggle with the 130+ (more like 175+) per hour of flight, but we still pay similar sums to the golfers... Perhaps it is also an economy of scale? Are there more people golfing than flying?

Food for thought!
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Old 16th Mar 2018, 19:18
  #32 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by POBJOY View Post
Biggin Hill is not a charitable trust dedicated to promoting GA, it is a business that seeks to maximise its assets and also appease disgruntled locals. At the same time its landlord does not get any brownie points by 'helping' GA and wants a quiet life from the local 'electorate'. Result; GA/training will always loose out because they have no corporate clout, and no business clout to fight the situation. It is so sad that this proud bastion of fighting for freedom and protecting its country when in peril, has descended into the realms of being a 'profit centre' rather than its traditional home of aviation. Biggin has had a huge input over the years and seen its engineers and pilots making a real contribution to all levels of aviation all over the world. We are hopeless in this country at protecting such places that have nurtured the skills that 'oil the wheels', and the Oaks from Acorns scenario cuts no dice when 'Money' prevails.
But that's exactly as Gloucestershire Airport. It's owned by the local councils and has the same issues with noise (Churchdown mainly but all parts of the county moan) and manages to attract both corporate and leisure and previously scheduled services and doesn't do too badly. It's actually expanding with the businesses on site.
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Old 17th Mar 2018, 08:38
  #33 (permalink)  
 
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I'm sure many prospective airline pilots will be extremely happy with Will's revelation regarding training:

Managing director Will Curtis said: "We are really sad about having to do this. Flight schools are part of the airfield's long tradition, but we have to put safety first."
He added: "Very few commercial pilots come from flight schools at Biggin Hill; they are generally trained in specialist courses funded by airlines."
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Old 17th Mar 2018, 09:20
  #34 (permalink)  
 
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If Will is incapable of managing his airfield such that fairly minimal light GA traffic can fit in with fairly minimal bizjets, perhaps he should consider a career he is more suited for as he's clearly inept at aviation.
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Old 17th Mar 2018, 09:22
  #35 (permalink)  
 
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I don't know the exact charging structure at Biggin, but it is usual for home based aircraft to not be charged for circuits. So if the circuit is full of 3 or 4 GA types all doing Touch and Goes, then that makes about 40 movements per hour (almost as many as Heathrow.), and the airfield will not be making one penny. Remember that for each circuit there will be at least two 'interactions' with ATC, so they will be extremely busy, and hardly have time to draw breath.
.
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Old 17th Mar 2018, 09:50
  #36 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by scifi View Post
I don't know the exact charging structure at Biggin, but it is usual for home based aircraft to not be charged for circuits. So if the circuit is full of 3 or 4 GA types all doing Touch and Goes, then that makes about 40 movements per hour (almost as many as Heathrow.), and the airfield will not be making one penny. Remember that for each circuit there will be at least two 'interactions' with ATC, so they will be extremely busy, and hardly have time to draw breath.
.
I pay for all my touch and goes and landing fees, get charged approach fees when VMC and not under an IFR flight plan. I have been a member of 2 of the 3 clubs at Biggin, and part of several shares / owners that have lent me their planes. Not once have I not paid a landing at Biggin... so i am a bit confused by your statement!

Those 40 movements in the hour would likely generate around 700! Which although not much in the grand scheme of things, it isn't nothing...

ps: Heathrow handles up to 90 movements an hour - maybe you meant Gatwick which handles around 55 at its peak?

Last edited by alex90; 17th Mar 2018 at 10:29. Reason: Added charges & now spelling...
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Old 17th Mar 2018, 09:54
  #37 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by WilliumMate View Post
I'm sure many prospective airline pilots will be extremely happy with Will's revelation regarding training:



Hahaha!! Wouldnt that be great?!?? I think he most likely meant "integrated courses" some of which where airlines offer to lend part of the training (generally type rating) but you pay them back once you start earning so its not really funded by them....!
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Old 17th Mar 2018, 10:34
  #38 (permalink)  
 
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Hi Alex, I once lived in London, until we moved into the country, so am sorry to hear of the charging system being used by Biggin. Most of the GA airfields north of Birmingham, don't charge fees for resident aircraft T+Gs. Some even allow visiting aircraft up to 7 T+Gs at a reduced rate if they land or take on fuel.
.
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Old 17th Mar 2018, 10:49
  #39 (permalink)  
 
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Hi Scifi,

I know - it is very sad... But people have to eat! So I respect this.

But when people keep telling me that us light GA don't pay... It does annoy me quite a bit because we do pay, at Biggin its presently around 15 for a touch and go, and 30 for a landing of a PA28 that's definitely not insignificant. Most other airfields that I know of charge 5 per T&G and 10-15 per landing! As I mentioned above, I think my average payments are around 2k per year to the airfield in landing, approach, and TG fees... Although - it is true that they don't charge UKBA Customs fees when coming back from abroad.

Anyway - its just a shame, because now its just Southend that will accept GA and has IAP, hard runway and lights within an acceptable distance from London...
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Old 17th Mar 2018, 11:46
  #40 (permalink)  
 
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Southend certainly do not charge 5 for a T&Go or 15 per landing. You seem to have mixed up your argument somewhat by bringing pricing into it.
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