Lack of AEF for NI and NW England


For the same reason that the gliders at Topcliffe were sent to South wales?? Politics?


I don’t have an answer to that one I’m afraid.

NI CCF cadets currently go to Glasgow and have done for some time.

I’m not sure if NI ATC go but I can check


Can I just say thank you for taking the time to communicate about the situation - I think 10 AEF are lucky to have you as an unofficial spokesman.

To be honest, if there was an end date, or even a proposed solution, I would grumble a bit, but probably wouldn’t argue with you. But it’s starting to have parallels with the Gliding pause, and we’ve seen how long that is taking to sort out.

In terms of cost, regardless of how cheap it is to operate, paying for an organisation to provide a service that it then can’t provide isn’t value for money.

In terms of repositioning, it was more of a temporary measure, rather than permanent. My thought was that if Cosford and Linton each had an extra 2 aircraft, plus pilots, then at least a reduced AEF could be offered for the cadets, rather than none.

You might think that this is pointless sniping, but my frustration stems from the fact that this has come at rather an unfortunate time for our wing, and my squadron. We’ve had 3 years of no gliding, .22 shooting has been stopped until we get the new weapon (and even then, it will take years to reach parity with .22 numbers), and there is now no flying. When trying to recruit cadets, I either have to lie, or admit to potential recruits that the three biggest draws to the ATC are, in fact, not available for them. My cadets are a good lot, and fairly loyal, but they are all on twitter and facebook, and all of them are getting fed up of seeing other people being given opportunities that they haven’t.


I sympathise with you, I really do.

My son has recently joined the ATC and can’t even fly at his Dad’s AEF. One because he’s too small for the LSJ and 2 because we don’t have a runway.

The gliding pause is a different issue. Engineering and airframe serviceability plus the re-org of units has had a detrimental affect on whats happening right now (my own opinion). Speaking to some of the gliding fraternity, they too are just as frustrated with their situation.

As a previous Sqn Commander, I can understand the problems you face and how difficult it is and in my almost 30 years within the Corps, I’ve never seen anything like it.

We don’t give up our time for pay or medals. We do it for the young individuals who want to do more in life and that’s what keeps us going. Unfortunately we are going through a rocky patch and I think we just need to batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to pass.

Hopefully, in Woodvale’s case anyway, we will be up and running as quickly as we can. The RAF and MOD as a whole is strapped and asking for a wheelbarrow full of cash is a big ask.

However, the more cages you rattle and the higher you rattle them you may just wake someone up!!


I’ve always wondered why woodvale hasn’t been sold off in the DIO jumble sale. There’s nonnuclear material contaminating the land, and if the military need landing spots, EGCC will work (but cost), and lets face it what would they need to land?
Apart from the standing up of the reserves unit, there’s nothing going on.


[quote=“Moist_Van_Lipwig, post:37, topic:3129, full:true”]As a tax payer, I’m struggling with the concept of keeping an AEF operating, but not providing cadet flights.
What’s the point of paying for a service provider, if that service isn’t provided?[/quote]
I to have struggled with the whole concept of flying (inc glding) in the ATC as being from a unit serviced by 5 AEF (although for different reasons), there is little or no return for a large chunk of England for the babcock contract. Have the babcock workers been on reduced salaries since certain AEFs have or effectively been non-operational?
This is question that if asked in ‘the house’ would be directed away referring to those AEF still operational and ignoring those that aren’t and timeframe and money spent. I’d shudder at how much of our money 2FTS has squandered in the last 3 and quarter years and still nowhere near providing nation wide service.

I cannot imagine that at Woodvale someone woke up one day and the runway was u/s, which begs the question why was it allowed to get into that state and not repaired in an ongoing way, rather than allow it to get to the state it seems to be in. If it is because Woodvale has no direct operational requirement, then sell it and up sticks to somewhere else, may be a small commercial airport.

The cogs in the MoD/RAF machine move really slowly and ‘we’ need something done quickly. As has been said many times if the MoD had to operate as business it wouldn’t be around for very long. Just the way it treats its customers (like us) would see its demise.

The whole of the public sector is strapped for cash and sometimes you have to cut your losses and either stop or look for an alternative. The problem within the MoD is empires and I imagine losing something like AEF would create a sizeable hole in someone’s empire and they may not be needed anymore. I was made redundant as the powers that be in the business wanted an alternative and it’s not without a rye smile that me and my former colleagues like to see the alternative didn’t work, despite all of us saying it won’t work, as while lending our expertise to those taking over it was plain to see they weren’t up to delivering the service we did.


Scrounger - Many thanks for taking the reply to my points - It must be very difficult when there is no OC in place and you are taking the flack, but at least someone is listening, for which I’m grateful.

I think everyone on this thread agrees that the situation needs resolving. As you have mentioned, Woodvale remains an active airfield and the UAS are operting quite happily off the cross runway - but the lack of EFATO options means that RAFAC does not want to expose cadets to that risk - which everyone understands.
Air Cadets however need to engage in aviation based activities, and to have an undefined period of down time at Woodvale just adds to the previous issues caused by props being thrown, the VGS ‘pause’ (there has been some light in that respect, in that Topcliffe are now up and running again on the Vigilant), and that Woodvale now opens Sun - Thu, meaning Saturday flying is no more.

Just to iron out some specifics :

Google Maps suggests that the jorney time from the Lancaster area is actually less to Barton than to Woodvale.

Catering - I don’t believe the Woodvale mess ever fed cadets - packed lunches seemed to be the order of the day, but yes Barton does cater for hundreds of people on a busy weekend, and could certainly cope with 10AEF aircrew and staff.

The runways at Barton have been regraded at a cost of £££ with additional drianage etc installed - The number of down days per year are minimal, and mostly when the weather would preclude VFR flights in any case

Issues such as Crash Crew training are easily overcome

With regards to the costs involved (hangarage, landing fees etc), has anyone visited or picked up the phone and had a conversation to establish what, if anything, these costs may be at any of the local airfields?

If 10AEF would like to have a chat about the possibilty, and would like me to aid introductions etc then PM me. For ‘all possibilities to be considered’, IMHO that has to be a deep dive in to alternative solutions given the downtime incurred to ops so far, and the lack of any definitive date for a runway fix at Woodvale. The current situation is demoralising for CFAV volunteers who just want to get their cadets airborne, and more importantly demoralising for the cadets themselves.


i can’t comment on whether Barton has been contacted as I wouldn’t know.

All I’ve been told is that all viable options have been looked at.

It may also have something to do with the current engineering contract which doesn’t allow for engineering deployments away fro Woodvale. I think the only AEF that has this is Colerne as they detach to St Mawgan for camps during the summer.

The reason the flying week was changed fro Sunday to Thursday was to allow the EFT students to use Warton radar during the week. The AEF had priority on the Sunday for AC so a radar service was not required per se. EFT get priority I’m afraid they have a time frame to achieve their task and only being able to operate 3 days a week was not viable. We weren’t happy about it and it was discussed with your WGLO but it seems the information was not passed on.

I had to fight to keep the Sunday as the original plan was to go to Monday to Friday!!!


You need to bare in mind that there are 2 other Sqn’s that operate from Woodvale. LUAS and MASUAS. Even though we do, or did, 80% of the flying at Woodvale they are still permanently manned and training EFT and UAS students.

I’m more than certain that The Station Commander has looked at all options but it’s way way above my pay grade.

Please do feel free to drop him a letter with your thoughts and ideas though.


Liverpool UAS can travel easy enough. Manchester students live on the landing path of Barton looking at the map.


Looking at their website they have a decent range of office space available to rent (that ticks the operation support facility box), they have fuel, they don’t have AC hangerage at the moment, but there is space. The RAF are quite good at putting up temporary facilities aren’t they? Isn’t this what they do worldwide?

I think some people who have “looked at all available options” haven’t really thought outside the box or challenged opposing views.


Cheers - Confused slightly though - I thought that it had been said that some aircraft had been sent to other units whilst 10AEF were not fully operating - in which case these aircraft could presumably be deployed to another local airfield to continue the AEF task (the other factors we have discussed notwithstanding), and therefore not impact on the UAS operations (The Squippers must have less tasks to peform at Woodvale with less aircraft present, and the pilots and staff cadets are independent of UAS ops as I understand things).

Perhaps I am over simplfying ?


In some respects you are correct but the major obstacle here is engineering support.

It is not in the LAFT contract for Woodvale engineers to be deployed, as far as I’m aware.

We can discuss this until we are blue in the face and they have all been spoken about at higher levels but the outcome is the same for now. 10 AEF will not be operating from another location as far as I’m aware.

Aircraft from Woodvale have been deployed elsewhere such as Glasgow and Cosford as they were already struggling for airframes. Remember a lot of the Tutor fleet was recently sold off leaving us with mainly classics so airframes are precious.

I have spoken to the station and there has been lots of ‘what if we’ and ‘why can’t we’ questions and not a lot of positive answers. It’s all about money. They don’t have any.

If HQAC would dip in I don’t think it would be so bad but I can’t say whether the question has been asked to CAC.


Didn’t somebody say that the ACO sorry RAFAC would be getting much more flying because of the new flying training contract would be freeing up a lot of Tutor aircraft or am I being a bit naïve?


They did. A statement was made to the House by a Minister of the Crown to that effect.


We knew the Minister was lying because his lips were moving… .


Yes, although a “Sqn’s worth” (ie, 16 Sqn) are continuing legacy EFT alongside the Prefect until that system is fully in place - sensible after the faff 4 Sqn had a Valley. That, over the whole Tutor fleet, will have a negligible effect.

As for the sell off, it was, IIRC 27 out of ~115 airframes, so not a huge number.

As for linking Cadet flying to UAS flying, as mentioned in other posts, there is little point other than the UAS provide supervision to the AEF and they share aeroplanes, infrastructure and support. Other than that the rules are completely different. An attested UAS student is a completely different kettle of fish to a Cadet with a 3822 and a wodge of various forms from HQAC.


It would appear, prima facie, that the uplift announced by the Minister hasn’t taken place. ~23% of the available aircraft were sold, rather than used (as promised) for AEF. There has been no appreciable expansion of AEF even on paper, and in practice large areas of the country are not served at all.

Could he have been said to have mislead the House?


When was said statement made to the house? The sale to Finland was agreed quite some ago.


13 April 2016