St Helena Airport’s historic Calibration Flights are scheduled for mid-September.  Prior to this, Basil Read will need to obtain approval from Air Safety Support International (ASSI) for temporary use of the runway.

ASSI’s Senior Aerodrome Inspector, Justin Rothwell, is expected to arrive on-Island on 29 August to carry out his assessment. This involves verifying the Airport infrastructure, observing a table-top exercise for the emergency services, and checking that all safety procedures are in place and adhered to.

If the temporary use of the runway is approved by ASSI and there is a suitable weather window, the calibration flight will be given the go-ahead to take-off from Africa.  The aircraft must land at St Helena Airport in ‘visual conditions’: the navigation aids cannot be used because they will not have been calibrated or approved by ASSI.  As such, a definitive date for the arrival of the flight cannot be given at present, but it is likely to be between Sunday 13 and Thursday 17 September. The calibration tests will be undertaken by Flight Calibration Services Limited (FCSL) who will travel to St Helena on the aircraft which has been leased from TAB who are based in South Africa.

Airport Project Manager Janet Lawrence explains:

“The calibration aircraft will possibly arrive in early afternoon but the actual arrival time will be dependent on the weather – we will probably have around six or seven hours’ notice before the flight arrives. The aircraft will fly from Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg, to Namibia, then Angola and on to St Helena – taking approximately four to five hours for the final leg.”

The exact number of flights that the aircraft will undertake on St Helena has yet to be confirmed, but 15 to 20 hours of flying time is anticipated to calibrate the various navigation aids and check instrument flight procedures.  The duration and frequency of flights will, to a large extent, be influenced by local weather conditions.

The Beechcraft Super King Air 200 aircraft (photo attached) used for the calibration flights will carry five occupants – three from South Africa and two from the UK.

Arriving on the RMS on 17 September will be ASSI Communication, Navigation & Surveillance Inspector, Mark Denny, to ascertain whether all navigation and communications equipment at the Airport is working correctly. DFID Project Manager, Nigel Kirby, will also arrive on this ship.

It is expected that the calibration flights will generate a great deal of public interest, especially to see the first landing.

Airport Manager Nigel Spackman commented:

“We know there will be a huge amount of public interest in the calibration flights – this is of course a very historic occasion for the Island. But I must stress that for security reasons I would urge the public not to make their way to the Airport site, where there will be no public access.

“Instead, we are working closely with the Police Service to manage the anticipated interest and traffic – and to identify a number of different public vantage points where people will get a good view of the aircraft.”

Further information on the calibration flights, vantage points and timing will be issued in due course.


24 August 2015


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