Northolt court ruling could force safety review


A court ruling in the UK is forcing a safety review at RAF Northolt Airport.

RAF Northolt, located west of London, is a joint-use airfield that can currently accept up to 12,000 business aviation movements per year.

The case, instigated by Biggin Hill Airport and London Oxford Airport, follows an admission by the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that the airport does not comply with Civil Aviation safety standards.

As a result of the ruling, the CAA is now responsible for all civilian aircraft using government owned military airfields. Responsibility for military flights remains with the Military Aviation Authority.

“Despite a serious crash in 1996 in which an aircraft overran the runway and collided with a vehicle on the A40 trunk road, RAF Northolt evidently believed it was entitled to bypass many internationally accepted aviation safety measures – measures that civil airports such as ours are required to maintain,” said Will Curtis, managing director of Biggin Hill Airport. “Lower safety standards at military aerodromes are unacceptable, not only for those in the aviation industry, but also for passengers and those in the surrounding community on the ground.”

Biggin Hill and Oxford Airport’s argued that the MOD has been unfairly competing with the private sector, and forms part of an ongoing E.U competition investigation concerning State Aid.

“Today 85 per cent of flights at RAF Northolt are civilian. They can continue to operate as a military airport accepting military flights, but if they want to continue accepting civilian flights, they may need to put in costly new safety measures”, said Andi Pargeter, managing director of London Oxford Airport. “The question for the MOD now is will they use even more taxpayers money in order to distort the market and compete with small private businesses that support hundreds of highly-skilled engineering jobs?”