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RAF and air traffic controllers get a chance to practise in quiet skies

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PASSENGER jets may be largely absent from our skies at the moment, but they have been replaced by a far more impressive sight – huge military aircraft.

RAF Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (28367528)

The Royal Air Force has been carrying out a number of training exercises to practise various approaches – the procedure used to guide aircraft into the correct path and altitude before landing.

Jersey’s air traffic controllers have also been using the visits to keep their skills in check, with significantly fewer flights operating across the Channel Islands.

Alan Moss, Jersey Air Traffic Control Centre training manager, said: ‘Essentially, we can offer the RAF lots of training for the transport aircraft of RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire – the Airbus A400, Boeing C17 Globemaster III and Lockheed Hercules C-130J.

‘As we have a large volume of UK and French airspace that is under control of the Jersey Air Traffic Control Centre, the crews can practise their tactical approaches from a high level with virtually no delay.

‘In addition to that, the crews have been training in low-level maritime reconnaissance at the northern edge of our airspace in the English Channel.’

RAF Airbus A400M Atlas. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (28414552)

Mr Moss added that part of the attraction for the RAF was the various different types of approach that were available to practise in Jersey.

This includes the use of a special GPS-based system, which is only found in a handful of airports within the British Isles.

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He added that the RAF’s visits had also given air traffic controllers an opportunity to hone their skills.

‘We contacted the crews to ask them to do certain training here to keep our air-traffic-control team maintaining their currency,’ he said. ‘Skill fade is an issue for many industries and that certainly applies to aircrew and air traffic controllers.

‘In lieu of our normal commercial airliners and lots of light aircraft visiting, this means that we can use the RAF for our own training – supplementing our own air-traffic-control simulators.’

Mr Moss added that he would be posting the details of any future RAF visits online at facebook.com/jerseyATCC.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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