Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.
With reviews of books that cover these topics
Just as there is no such thing as a victimless crime, so the Olympics were not a “win/win” for the UK. There will be quite a few businesses in the South East that have lost money as a result of the sportfest.
The CEO of the Civil Aviation Authority is very content with the way in which the GA community behaved through the Olympic period. If they are not embarrassed by errant pilot behaviour, then neither is the government. Establishment happiness, then But at what cost? We shall never know the true extent of the Olympics’ security bill. But the cost of relocating the Typhoons to Northolt, and keeping them on near 24 hour standby, relocating Pumas all over the place, placing SAM systems on apartment blocks around London, and bringing more than 100 RAF controllers to Atlas Control at Swanwick – it has to be measured in hundreds of millions.
The RAF, as one would expect, played their part very professionally. The officers in charge – Dawn Lindsay, Mike Tetlow, and Sian Ryan – gave expert presentations, judging by the early one I attended. The effort put into briefing GA pilots was immense. Controllers, once at their stations, were as professional as ever – though they did not understand the wrinkles of the airspace they were controlling at first. The Government should find some way of rewarding them for denying them any leave through the summer.
One aspect of RAF operations verged on the comical: Pumas flying round Greater London with RAF Regiment snipers at their open rear doors, ready to shoot if a pilot did not obey their “Follow Me” signs. Keystone Cops stuff – can a sniper really shoot accurately from the back of an egg beater? (Note - I do not want to volunteer as target practice to test this concept).
Everything revolved around flight plans of course, and that meant the AFPeX system. Which has to be one of the worst examples of consumer-facing software launched onto the UK market in recent years. I much, much prefer my French girlfriend’s version – Olivia. The powers that be chose to force all pilots to submit plans through AFPeX, yet it seems that at Atlas the plans were reviewed, disseminated and used in paper form. There was not enough time or money to create an IT interface….
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