RAF Wittering Defence Aerodrome Manual (DAM)
The Military Aviation Authority (MAA) is the single independent regulatory body for all Defence aviation activity. As the ‘Regulator’, Director MAA (D MAA) is accountable to SofS, through the Defence Safety Authority (DSA) for providing a regulatory framework, given effect by a certification, approvals and inspection process for the acquisition, operation and airworthiness of air systems within the Defence aviation environment. Through Director General (DG) DSA, D MAA is responsible for providing assurance to SofS that the appropriate standards of military Air Safety are maintained. DG DSA is the Convening Authority for Service Inquiries into aircraft occurrences.
Flying Information for RAF Wittering
In December 2010 the skies above RAF Wittering fell silent when the Harrier aircraft, which had been so much a part of the Station’s history, were retired. The airfield was too useful an asset to remain dormant for long, having once had the longest runway in the RAF (and still 3rd longest today) and extensive flying infrastructure besides. In 2013 it was announced that flying operations would resume at RAF Wittering.
The airfield was opened again in April 2014 when Squadron Leader Chris Kane, Officer Commanding Cambridge University Air Squadron (CUAS), landed a Grob 115E Tutor aircraft from RAF Wyton. The redevelopment of RAF Wyton and sale of the airfield for housing development meant that new homes had to be found for CUAS and the University of London Air Squadron (ULAS).
Eventually the final makeup of the Squadrons at RAF Wittering was decided upon and, in addition to CUAS and ULAS, the Station would become the home of 16 (R) Squadron,115 (R) Squadron CFS and No. 5 Air Experience Flight (AEF). The Cambridgeshire Station would once more adopt its historical role as a flying school. Around 26,000 aircraft movements (take-offs and landings) happen at RAF Wittering annually and in training future aircrew the Station has quickly become vital to the RAF’s future air capability.
Royal Air Force Wittering understands that flying training can be disturbing to those on the ground. The Station always seeks ways to reduce disturbance wherever it is safe and practicable but there will be times when, despite our best efforts, some intrusion from flying training is unavoidable.
Most of the flying activity at RAF Wittering is concerned with training pilots in the basics of aircraft handling; this is called Elementary Flying Training (EFT). During EFT take-offs, landings and some aerobatic manoeuvres are taught and practiced until they become second nature. Trainee pilots cannot move on to the next phase of their training until they have become proficient at these skills.
RAF Wittering’s controlled airspace extends in a radius of five nautical miles from the centre of the runway and reaches a height of 3000 feet from ground level. This is called the Military Aerodrome Traffic Zone; MATZ for short. The MATZ completely covers Stamford and extends just past Ryhall in the north and Woodnewton in the south. As trainee pilots and students do not fly very far from the airfield, people living inside the MATZ will experience regular aircraft activity.
Not all of this activity will be from Wittering’s own aircraft; the Air Traffic Controllers at RAF Wittering are responsible for controlling and de-conflicting all aircraft within the MATZ. Many aircraft route through the airspace in order to take advantage of our traffic service for training purposes, flypasts and military exercises.
Tight weather limitations set the conditions in which trainee pilots are permitted to fly. Cloud, rain, surface temperature and wind speed affect how and where our new pilots can train safely. Low cloud in the south-west of the MATZ could mean that training is moved to the north-east of the airfield. Sometimes, when it seems there is more aircraft activity in your vicinity, it is simply that we have been unable to use other areas of the MATZ.
These apparent concentrations of activity are always temporary and will change with the weather. RAF Wittering has only four to five months in which to prepare trainee Royal Air Force pilots for the next phase of their training; time in the air is a valuable commodity and the squadrons at RAF Wittering must follow good weather if they are to safely and successfully teach elementary flying training in the time allowed.
As a general rule, RAF Wittering will always try to spread aircraft activity as widely as possible in order to minimise disturbance.
Operations Wing and Air Traffic Control
The new Operations Wing (Ops Wg) and Air Traffic Control (ATC) Squadron were formed in April 2014 when Royal Air Force Wittering returned to flying operations. Their mission is to provide a safe environment suitable for the teaching of Elementary Flying Training (EFT) to RAF trainee pilots, students from the University Air Squadrons and Air Cadets having their first experience of RAF flying.
Ops Wg maintains the aerodrome at RAF Wittering to a high standard, in line with Military Aviation Authority (MAA) regulations and maintains the conservation areas which border the Burghley Estate. Details of MAA requirements and how RAF Wittering manages its estate can be found in the Defence Aerodrome Manual for the Station
Uniquely, Royal Air force Wittering’s ATC Squadron now comprises both RAF and Babcock International controllers. The immediate airfield, everything within visual range of the tower, is overseen by Babcock International. The surrounding airspace, which extends well beyond the MATZ, is controlled by RAF personnel in conjunction with nearby units such as RAF College Cranwell, RAF Marham, RAF Coningsby and RAF Waddington.