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Low-flying aircraft

Following recent concerns raised by residents about low-flying aircraft above the village the Parish Council wrote to RAF Odiham, questioning why it is necessary to overfly the village at relatively low altitude.

The following response was received:

Thank you for your letter dated 22 February 2021 and I have provided some information below which I hope will alleviate any current or future concerns from the residents of North Waltham.

North Waltham sits within the RAF Odiham Military Air Traffic Zone, which is a section of controlled airspace that ATC at RAF Odiham control. This provides protection to aircraft that are routing towards Odiham. Aircraft approaching Odiham from the west can do so on the Precision Approach Radar (PAR) which guides aircraft on a suitable approach to the runway threshold. The PAR is only available from the west.

The majority of aircraft that depart RAF Odiham do so to the West, this is because an overwhelming amount of our training takes place to the west on Salisbury Plain with other key training areas including Dartmoor and Exmoor. North Waltham lies on a direct track between Odiham and Salisbury Plain and our proximity to the plain is part of the reason Chinook are based at Odiham.

Also a frequently used field landing ground that RAF Odiham use is slightly to the west of Popham airfield. We use this field with the permission of the landowner, and due to its nature acting as a confined landing ground it provides excellent training for crews. That combined with its proximity to Odiham means that it is one of our most popular fields. A quick google will show this field as being 6km to the west of North Waltham. As you can appreciate the requirement to provide areas for crews to land in complex areas is key to their ongoing preparedness to support operations.

With regards to the Low flying, it is a perishable skill that can only be perfected through rigorous training and continuous practice in a realistic environment.  Maximum use is made of simulators, particularly in areas such as cockpit procedures, general handling, instrument flying training and practice for emergencies and wartime procedures that cannot reasonably be carried out in the air.  There is currently no acceptable substitute for actual low flying and at present simulators do not provide the scope to safely further reduce the volume of low flying.  To ensure UK Forces are capable of meeting the operational task, low flying training must be conducted in the UK before deployment to operational theatres. All our crews are particularly aware of the disturbance helicopters cause and it is with great regret that our activities have to impact on anyone, especially the local villages and communities where we live and work.

We work consistently to keep a good relationship with all our neighbours and would never deliberately do anything to jeopardise the bond we have built up with the local communities over the years. We will continue to take all reasonable precautions whenever possible to minimise the disturbance, but I appreciate that this may not always be to your satisfaction.

Kind regards

Sandy

Sandy Austin

Engagements & MCO Support Clerk

BSW HQ ~ Royal Air Force Odiham ~ Hook ~ RG29 1QT 


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