Glasgow Airport Movements 2018
December was very mild and the temperature didn`t drop far until the middle of the month. Although many parts of the UK experienced weather related travel problems for a couple of days the Glasgow area saw very little ice or snow and it quickly turned gloomy and wet again. In these shots, two of the airport`s snow clearing vehicles get some training in on the northside of the airfield should the wintry weather arrive in earnest in the New Year.
Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer touched-down at Glasgow Airport early this year when the ad on the billboard in St Andrew`s Drive was replaced with this seasonal effort on the run-up to Christmas. Somehow, `Rudolph the Tunnock`s Teacake-nosed Reindeer` doesn`t have the same ring to it, but he still looks cool in the snow (no pun intended)!
An early Christmas present for the airport management, staff, and local aviation enthusiasts came on 17 December when Emirates finally confirmed its intention to operate the A380 into Glasgow next year. This will be the type`s first regular scheduled service into a Scottish airport although Airbus A380-861 A6-EET (below) made a one-off appearance on 10 April 2014 when it flew in to mark the 10th anniversary of Emirates flights between Dubai and Glasgow.
The world's largest passenger airliner will initially be used between Tuesday 16 April and Friday 31 May 2019 with a single A380 replacing the carrier`s twice-daily Boeing Triple-Seven service. The change to a single aircraft is to reduce movements at Dubai International while its southern runway is closed for an extensive upgrade which includes a complete resurfacing plus replacement of the airfield ground lighting and support infrastructure.
The Glasgow International flight will depart Dubai at 14:50 hrs and arrive here at 19:45, with the return leg leaving at 21:30 hrs and landing back at Dubai just before 08:00 hrs the following morning. Then, during the peak summer period between June 1 and September 30, the carrier’s twice-daily service will be reinstated, with the A380 operating on the first flight of the day, and the B777 on the second. Between 1 June and 30th September 2019, EK027 will depart Dubai at 07:50 hrs and land in Glasgow at 12:45, with EK028 departing from Glasgow at 14:35 hrs. The route will revert to a twice-daily B777 service from October for the winter season.
There is still no sign of any development taking place on the east side of the airport following recently completed survey work. Abbotsinch Road is due to be realigned before work begins on a new business park which will occupy much of the area pictured above. I don`t know whether the football fields in the foreground will be included in the development area. Meanwhile, the terminal`s West Pier extension (below) continues to take shape. This new facility is essential for A380 passenger transfers and Emirates are making a substantial financial contribution towards its construction.
On Wednesday 19 December large scale travel disruption ensued when operators of London Gatwick, the UK`s second busiest airport, took the decision to suspend all aircraft movements due to unauthorised drone activity. The shutdown started just after 21:00 hrs when two drones were spotted flying over the perimeter fence and coming within range of the airport`s only operational runway. The airport reopened for business at 03:00 hrs on Thursday but closed down again less than an hour later following a further drone sighting.
More than 140,000 passengers were affected during a 36 hour period with almost 1,000 cancellations and delays. Incoming planes were forced to divert to other airports including London Heathrow, Luton, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Paris and Amsterdam with Glasgow hosting WestJet Boeing 767-338(ER)(WL) C-FOGT (below) which had been flying to Gatwick from Toronto on the 20th. The passengers were put up overnight and set off again the following afternoon but the airliner was forced to abort its approach and return to Glasgow when a further drone sighting led to another short closure. The jet finally landed at its intended destination late in the evening - third time lucky!
During the unprecedented closure, thousands of travellers spent the morning waiting inside Gatwick's terminal for updates, while others reported being stuck on grounded planes, in some cases for many hours with no information. Honeymooners, people heading home to be with their families for Christmas and excited children heading to Lapland to see Santa Clause were among those left distraught. Another blow for those passengers affected was that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) considered that this event was an "extraordinary circumstance", and therefore airlines were not obligated to pay any financial compensation to passengers. Many people did qualify for free meals, refreshments, and in many cases hotel accommodation or transfers, with some covered by travel insurance but Christmas plans for vast numbers of travellers and their families were ruined.
Despite flooding the area with officers the Police were unable to trace the cuplprit(s). Drones continued to be spotted intermittently throughout the day and firearms officers were deployed around the airport perimeter, presumably with orders to shoot any devices down with minimal damage so that they could be forensically examined for evidence. Latterly military personnel were brought in to assist the police operation.
The number of aircraft incidents involving drones in the UK has grown dramatically in the past few years, as the popularity of the devices has soared. In 2013 there were no incidents, but almost 100 last year. It`s believed that the Israeli-developed Drone Dome system, which can jam communications between the drone and its operator, was brought in by the Army who remained on-site until early January, during which time the airport put its own anti-drone measures in place.
Sussex Police subsequently arrested a local couple and held them as suspects but they were eventually released without charge and an apology on 23 December. A suggestion by a senior Sussex police officer that there may have been no drones was later dismissed as a "miscommunication". The force said it was investigating "relevant sightings" from 115 witnesses - 93 of whom it described as "credible" - including airport staff, police officers and a pilot. A £50,000 reward for information leading to conviction has been offered by Crimestoppers.
In a dramatic newsflash just before the month ended, the police announced that they were now following a definite line of enquiry following a check of new CCTV footage, however, the suspect has reportedly fled the country and is lying low, at least until the latter part of next year.
Cartoon © Matthew Pritchett
With the world`s largest passenger jet now confirmed for 2019, a new fuselage simulator on the fire training area beside Barnsford Road is now in place. It`s much larger and no doubt far more advanced than its predecessor, enabling various scenarios from small self-contained fires to major conflagrations to be recreated. There is a six-wheeled undercarriage leg on one side and the fuselage interior, which I presume is at least a double-decker, can be filled partially or completely with smoke so that Fire personnel can practice aircraft search and rescue techniques wearing breathing apparatus. The following section features shots of the component parts arriving and the unit`s installation.
The weather was atrocious on Thursday 6 December with gusty winds and driving rain when engineers began positioning the base supports.
Temporary traffic lights had been put in place alongside the training area but rather than being connected with the installation of the advanced simulator, this was to facilitate the laying of a length of sewage pipe under the road. Another similar tunnel has been dug just west of Crash Gate 11 for the same purpose, enabling the pipeline to pass under the road and enter the airfield grounds.
Below: An empty transporter about to leave on 6 December while another lorry, with the fourth support plinth, awaits escort to the site. Just behind the escort vehicle on another inbound articulated lorry is the first fuselage piece which represents an aircraft engine, plus the undercarriage bogie.
Around 10:00 hrs the following morning four additional trucks arrived, all with major components...
The geese and Whooper Swans in the adjacent fields didn`t seem too phased by all the activity.
After taking the above shots on 7 December, I headed home and by chance saw HMS Tracker (P274) and HMS Raider (P275) passing Newshot Island at Erskine on their way back to HMNB Clyde. Both vessels are Archer-class (P2000) Patrol and Training Vessels commonly referred to as a Fast Training Boats. Most are assigned to University Royal Naval Units around the UK, although this pair are usually armed as they provide maritime security to high value shipping in the Firth of Clyde especially as escorts for submarines transiting to and from Faslane. Had I been further downriver I would have been able to catch them in the same frame along with the first of the day`s Emirates` Triple-sevens from Dubai which was just descending above the Titan Crane at Clydebank on finals.
The Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron have recently been hosting groups of veterans from the Erskine Charity, taking them on a waterborne tour, setting off from Rhu Marina and sailing up the River Clyde from the naval base to Yorkhill Marina.
During the trips the veterans pass the old Erskine Hospital building, now operating as the Mar Hall Hotel. On October`s cruise, one of those on board was 92-year-old Bernard Roberts who had last stood on the deck one of Her Majesty’s Ships on the Clyde in 1945 when he was part of a convoy of 70 ships bound for North Africa. More information on the history of Erskine Hospital can be found on my Erskine Wildlife page.
I take it that HMS Archer and HMS Raider were heading back to base after treating another batch of veterans to a sightseeing cruise up the Clyde.
Above: This was the scene at the Fire Training Area the following morning - one lower section is now in place with the others lined-up in order of assembly.
By Wednesday 12 December the wing and engine were in place.
Waiting for the front end!
I only managed a record shot of Airbus A320-232 P4-AAF `Edecio` (f/v) when it stopped off at Glasgow International on December 1st on its delivery flight from Montpellier to Aruba Airlines. It remained on Stand 82 for around 6 hours before setting off on the next stage of its journey to Bangor, Maine. The airline, the flag carrier and the sole airline of Aruba, a small island in the southern Caribbean, has another A320-200 P4-AAD `Andries J. de Swart` which was delivered in August 2015. A single A319-100 and Canadian-reg Bombardier CRJ-200 currently make up the fleet, all aircraft being leased.
As usual, the run up to Christmas Day saw a number of `Santa flights`, most of which were served by Enter Air Boeing 737s, taking excited kids (of all ages) to Lapland to see the `Big Man with the white beard in the red suit.` SP-ESC (above) arrived on Thursday 6 December and is shown lifting-off for Lapland the following day. Boeing 737-8CX(WL) SP-ENM (below) is heading to line up at `Alpha One` on Monday 17th.
The UK’s Aviation watchdog is taking legal action against Ryanair over the airline’s refusal to compensate thousands of UK customers affected by flight disruption over the summer. The Irish carrier experienced its worst-ever industrial action this year as walkouts by pilots and cabin crew over pay and conditions forced the airline to cancel flights, affecting tens of thousands of passengers, many of whom were holidaymakers.
All claims for compensation to the airline have been rejected by Ryanair on the grounds that the disruption arose from `exceptional circumstances`. Extreme weather, for example, can fall into this category and in the event of such disruption passengers experiencing delays or cancellations may not be entitled to reimbursement. However, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are of the view that passengers losing out due to strike action in this case are entitled to compensation under EU law and court proceedings may be required to resolve the dispute. It could be argued that the strike action was announced by those staff taking part in advance therefore the airline had sufficient notice to take steps to minimise upset.
Above: British Airways A321-231 G-MEDN descends on finals for Runway 23 on Tuesday 4 December. A Prestwick-based HM Coastguard AW189 can be seen in the background. The rescue helicopter is practising landings on the helipad of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This shot was taken from Inchinnan.
On Thursday 6 December, Eurowings A320-214(WL) D-AIZR in Borussia Dortmund team colours made a welcome change from the standard liveried jets, but unfortunately the weather was dire when it touched down. The adjacent image, taken on another grey December day, features Smartwings Boeing 737-8Z9(WL) OK-TVX which had flown in from Egilsstadir Airport on 30 November with Icelanders on a shopping spree. The Czech-registered airliner parked up, remaining at Glasgow until setting off on the return trip on the evening of 3 December.
As previously mentioned, one of December`s stand-out visitors landed on the first day: Airbus A320-232 P4-AAF Aruba Airlines (f/v) which was on a delivery flight. Airbus A320-233 G-POWK Titan Airways also called in (1st); Boeing 737-8AS EI-GXM Ryanair, Boeing 737-8AS(WL) SP-RSB Ryanair Sun and Airbus A320-232 SX-DGD Aegean Airlines (2nd); Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPP Emirates (Year of Zayed livery), Boeing 737-8AS SP-ESC (f/v) Enter Air (flew in for the first Santa flight of the Festive Season which took-off on the 7th), Airbus A320-214(WL) OE-ICR (f/v) easyJet Europe, A320-251N G-UZHN (f/v) easyJet and Avro RJ85 G-JOTR Jota Aviation (3rd); Airbus A321-131 D-AIRP Lufthansa and Boeing 737-8AS(WL) EI-GXL Ryanair (4th); Boeing 737-8AS SP-RSO Ryanair Sun and Airbus A320-212 EC-MVF (f/v) Thomas Cook Airlines Balearics (5th)...
Visiting airliners continued with Boeing 737-8AS(WL) SP-RSO Ryanair Sun (plus other dates), Airbus A321-251NX G-NEOR (f/v) British Airways and A320-214(WL) D-AIZR Eurowings (Borussia Dortmund Livery) (6th): Boeing 737-8AS(WL) SP-RSH Ryanair Sun (7th); Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner G-TUIJ TUI, Airbus A320-214(WL) OE-ICM (f/v) easyJet Europe and A320-212 EC-MVF Thomas Cook Balearics (8th); Boeing 737-8AS(WL) SP-ESC Enter Air, Boeing 737-8AS(WL) SP-RSB Ryanair Sun, Airbus A320-232 SX-DGD Aegean Airlines and Bombardier CRJ-900LR D-ACKL Lufthansa Cityline (9th); Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPI Emirates (Expo 2020 green livery) and Boeing 737-8AS SP-RSH Ryanair Sun (10th)...
Boeing 757-256(WL) TF-FIR Icelandair (80 years of Aviation Livery) and Airbus A321-231 D-AISV Lufthansa (11th); Emirates Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPP Emirates (Year of Zayed 2018 livery), Boeing 757-28A(WL) G-OOBA TUI on a Santa flight, Boeing 737-8AS SP-ENP Enter Air from Salzburg, Airbus A320-214(WL) D-AEWK Eurowings (Kvarner - Croatia livery), A321-211 G-POWN Titan Airways (Jet2 colours), A320-214 EC-MTJ (f/v) and Airbus A320-212 EC-NAD (f/v), both Thomas Cook Balearics operating football charters from Vienna and Embraer ERJ-195LR G-FBEJ Flybe (Welcome to Yorkshire livery) (12th); Boeing 737-86N YR-BMG Blue Air (King Ferdinand I Livery), Boeing 737-8K5 D-AHFV (f/v) TUI fly and Airbus A319-132 D-AGWJ Eurowings (Germanwings livery) (13th)...
Boeing 737-8AS SP-RSI Ryanair Sun, Airbus A321-211 G-POWN Jet2, plus A320-214 EC-MTJ and A320-212 EC-NAD both Thomas Cook Balearics, and Fokker 100 9A-BTD Trade Air (14th); Airbus A318-112 G-EUNA British Airways (15th); Boeing 737-8CX(WL) SP-ENM Enter Air, Boeing 737-8AS(WL) SP-RSK Ryanair Sun and Airbus A320-232 SX-DGC Aegean Airlines (16th); Boeing 737-8AS(WL) SP-RSL Ryanair Sun, Airbus A321-211 D-ATCB (f/v) Condor and A320-271N D-AINB Lufthansa (17th); Airbus A320-271N D-AINJ Lufthansa (18th); Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-ECE Emirates (Year of Zayed 2018 livery), Boeing 737-8AS(WL) SP-RSB Ryanair, Airbus A320-271N D-AINL Lufthansa (new livery) and A320-214(WL) D-AIZR Eurowings (Borussia Dortmund Livery) (19th)...
Boeing 767-338(ER)(WL) C-FOGT (f/v) WestJet Toronto - London Gatwick diversion, Boeing 737-8CX(WL) SP-ENM Enter Air, Airbus A320-271N D-AINM Lufthansa (new colours) and A320-214 OE-ICF (f/v) easyJet Europe (20th); WestJet Boeing 767 C-FOGT departed for Gatwick but was forced to return following another closure, Boeing 757-256(WL) TF-FIR Icelandair (80 Years of Aviation livery), Boeing 737-8AS(WL) SP-RSM Ryanair Sun, Boeing 737-8CX(WL) SP-ENM Enter Air departed and returned, Boeing 737-8MG(WL) G-JZBP (f/v) Jet2 Holidays, plus Airbus A320-271N D-AINK Lufthansa (new colours) (21st); Airbus A320-271N D-AINL Lufthansa (new colours), Airbus A320-251N G-UZHO easyJet (f/v) and Boeing 737s SP-ESB (f/v) Enter Air (22nd); Enter Air Boeing 737s SP-ESB again and SP-RSD (23rd)...
Boeing 737-8AS(WL) EI-GXN Ryanair (24th); Airbus A321-231(WL) HA-LXV Wizz Air (25th); Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner G-TUIK TUI Airways (26th); Airbus A320-271N D-AINI Lufthansa (28th); Emirates Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPF (Expo 2020 green livery), plus A6-ENR (Expo 2020 orange livery) (29th); Boeing 737-86N(WL) YR-BMG Blue Air (King Ferdinand I Livery), Airbus A320-271N D-AINN Lufthansa (new colours) and Boeing 737-8AS SP-RSC Ryanair Sun (30th); Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPP Emirates (Year of Zayed 2018 livery) and A321-211 G-POWN Jet2 (31st).
Above: Flying in from Dusseldorf on a gloomy 12 December was Eurowings Airbus A320-214(WL) D-AEWK in the airline`s `Kvarner - Croatia` livery but the detail is mostly hidden in this view. The Kvarner Gulf, sometimes referred to as Kvarner Bay, is an increasingly popular holiday destination. It`s located in the northern Adriatic Sea, between the Istrian peninsula and the northern Croatian Littoral mainland. The bay forms part of Croatia's internal waters and hosts a number of islands, the largest being Cres, Krk, Pag, Rab and Lošinj.
Another month with only a couple of visitors in this category worth mentioning with Flybe purple-liveried ATR 72-500 G-ISLI on 1 December, Aerotranscargo Saab 340AF ES-LSA (f/v) and Britten-Norman BN-2B-20 Islander G-CZNE on the 15th, followed by ATR 72-500(F) EI-SOO (f/v) of ASL Airlines Ireland on the 19th. Widerøe DHC-8-402Q LN-WDL made a welcome appearance on the 23rd. The latter aircraft was routing from Sandefjord Airport, Torp, in Norway to Maastricht in the Netherlands.
Please bear in mind that all my images are subject to copyright. They are not free to use and have been embedded with a digital watermark.
The most noteworthy visitor in this category actually arrived last month, on Friday 30 November, but stayed on until Sunday 2 December. Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet N50AG parked on the Gama apron and luckily for the local enthusiasts it was left in a clutter-free position, suitable for photos. The Cirrus Vision is a single-engine, low-wing, carbon fibre jet designed and produced by Cirrus Aircraft. Based in Duluth, Minnesota, Cirrus Aircraft was founded as Cirrus Design in the mid-1980s and is better known for its single-engined light prop-driven planes.
At USD $2 million, this aircraft is the most affordable private jet in the world and costs roughly fifty-percent less than its closest similarly-powered rivals. It has a range of 1,150 miles (1,850 km) while cruising at 345mph and an altitude of 28,000 feet. Although the futuristic-looking plane is marketed as a seven-seater, it can seat five adults in comfort, plus two children, or two seats can be removed for additional luggage stowage.
The first prototype made its inaugural flight on 3 July 2008 and the first production aircraft was rolled out in May 2016. Seventy-three Vision Jets have been produced as of September 2018 with many more on order. A remarkable feature is the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) which deploys from the nose of the aircraft making the SF50 the first jet of any kind to come with a complete-aircraft ballistic parachute. Although it looks more like a spaceplane from a Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds or Fireball XL5 TV show than a traditional biz-jet, the Cirrus Vision Jet has attracted a great deal of attention from air taxi companies.
Another rarity for Glasgow this December was Chilean-registered Citation 680A Latitude CC-AXZ which arrived for a night stop on Tuesday 18 December and left about 20:30 hrs the following evening. It was routing from St. John's, Newfoundland to Barcelona.
Next, December`s corporate visitors: Gulfstream Vs C-GGPM and N175NH, plus Swedish Learjet 45 SE-RMO were stopovers from November. Kicking-off the arrivals this month were Hawker Beechcraft 400XP G-FXDM (f/v) and Learjet 60 N202N (1st); Dassault Falcon 2000EX N49HT, Falcon 2000LX OY-GFS, Cessna 680A Citation Latitude CS-LTF (f/v), CitationJet CJ1 F-HKRA (f/v) and Embraer Phenom 100 OK-VAN (f/v) (2nd); Falcon 2000LX OY-GFS returned (4th); Gulfstream V-SP N175NH and Citation Excel G-SIRS (6th): Embraer Phenom 300 D-CSCE (f/v) and Learjet 45 G-XJET (7th); Hawker Beechcraft 900XP G-KTIA (8th); Citation XLS+ D-CAHO Air Hamburg (10th)...
Bombardier Global 6000 EC-LTF, plus Citation XLS+ D-CAHO of Air Hamburg returned (11th); Bombardier Challenger 604s C-GPGD and D-AFAA, plus Embraer Legacy 500s G-SUEJ and G-TULI (f/v) (13th); Dassault Falcon 50 N156AW, Falcon 7X SE-DJL, Gulfstream G150 D-CGEP and Embraer Phenom 300 G-CKAZ (f/v) (14th); Cessna Citation Sovereign D-CAWB (15th); Embraer Phenom 100 9H-FAM (16th); Embraer EMB-135BJ Legacy 650 G-SUGR, Gulfstream G650 M-JCBB, Gulfstream IV N478GS, Citation 680A Latitude CC-AXZ (f/v) and Cessna 525 Citation CJ1+ N628AM (f/v) (18th)...
Falcon 2000EX CS-DLD, Citation Bravo G-IPLY and Learjet 75 G-ZNTH (19th); Global 6000 9H-VJR (f/v) VistaJet, plus both Citation Bravo G-IPLY and Learjet 75 G-XJET returned (20th); Cessna Citation XLS D-CNOC, and Citation Bravo G-IPLY again (21st); Challenger 350 9H-VCB VistaJet (22nd); Global Express XRS N980CC (f/v), Global 5000 OE-INL and Citation-Bravo G-IPLY (28th); Cessna Citation Encore+ D-CAWR (29th); Global 5000 OE-INL returned, Challenger 300 OE-HLL, Learjet 45 G-XJET and Embraer Phenom 300 G-JMBO (30th); Phenom 300 CS-PHM (31st).
Mostly it was just the UAS and Scottish Ambulance Service aircraft that made up the GA movements. On Saturday 1 December, Piaggio P-180 M-ONTE, a stopover from last month, departed. Visiting today was AgustaWestland AW109SP Grand New G-SKBH (1st); SOCATA TBM-930 N725MA (f/v) and Beech King Air 200 G-CWCD (3rd); Piper PA-32R-301 Saratoga II G-JAFS (6th): Cessna 421C Golden Eagle G-ISAR and King Air 200 G-FLYK (12th); King Air 200 G-FLYW (13th); King Air 200 G-GMAE (15th); Pilatus PC-12 M-YBLS (16th); Piper PA-34-220T Seneca F-HSYS (17th); King Air 350 N350KF (f/v) and King Air 200 M-WATJ (18th); Diamond DA62 2-SALE, plus King Air 350 M-LLMW and King Air 200 G-OLIV (21st); Piper PA-46 Malibu N50SA (f/v) and King Air 200 G-XVIP (22nd); Pilatus PC-12 M-YBLS (28th).
HM Coastguard AgustaWestland AW189 G-MCGT called in at the Golden Jubilee Hospital Clydebank on the evening of Tuesday 11 December, presumably to drop off a patient. Above are additional views of the Rescue chopper, possibly the same AW189, practising landings on the rooftop helipad of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital on Tuesday 4 December.
Texan II N2872B (f/v), on its delivery flight to RAF Valley in Wales arrived on Saturday 1 December and stayed until the 3rd. USAF Cessna UC-35D Citation Encore 166766 (f/v), call-sign `Magic 16` made a fuel stop on the 2nd. On Monday 10 December Hungarian Air Force/NATO Boeing C-17A Globemaster III, serial number 080001(f/v), Call-sign `Bartok 98`, arrived at 11:15 hrs and went straight to Stand 39, where it parked facing north. This presented a challenge for photographers due to the size of the aircraft, its proximity to the fence and a couple of metal poles encroaching on the scene. A full length uncluttered side-on shot was difficult to achieve unless you had a wideangle lens small enough to fit through the wire mesh.
The aircraft was en route to Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina. Now a joint civil-US military complex, Charleston shares its runways with Charleston International Airport which hosts commercial airline operations on the south side of the airfield and general aviation aircraft on the east side. The 437th Airlift Wing (437 AW) of the Air Mobility Command (AMC) and the 315th Airlift Wing (315 AW) of the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) operate the C-17A Globemaster III from the base.
This long range cargo aircraft is one of three Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs assigned to the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC),
SAC, established in 2008, is an independent, multinational program based at the Hungarian Defence Forces` Pápa Air Base in Western Hungary.
The concept was first envisaged in 2006 when NATO officials and national representatives realised that a partnered solution would satisfy a need for strategic airlift for member states without the economic resources to field a permanent capability.
Originally this idea was called the NATO Strategic Airlift Capability (NSAC) but when the first non-NATO nation joined the initiative In October 2006, the concept changed its name to the SAC and moved outside the Alliance. The operational element of SAC, the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW), is a multinational force, commanded by a colonel of a member nation.
Each of the 12 participating countries owns a share of the available flight hours of the SAC C-17's that can be used for missions to serve the needs of NATO, their own defence forces, or any EU or UN commitments, in addition to humanitarian relief efforts. The SAC Nations are the NATO members Hungary, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States, plus NATO Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden.
As Hungary is the host nation, the SAC C-17's all bear Hungarian military serials and national insignia. This is the first of the trio, `SAC 01`, full serial number 08000, which was delivered to the unit on 14 July 2009. The remaining two aircraft, SAC 02 and 03, were delivered within the next few months and operations with the Heavy Airlift Wing started immediately thereafter.
SAC C-17As have supported large multinational military exercises in Europe, including Cold Response, Saber Junction and Saber Strike, and participated in operations such as the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Below: The only other military visitor was RAF BAe 146-200QC CC.2 ZE708 which called in on Thursday 13 December 2018.
I don`t visit Edinburgh Airport very often, mainly because of the frequent congestion on the M8 Motorway, however, with a fine day forecast for Sunday 9 December, I took a run through arriving just before first light. Runway 24 was in use and after spending most of the morning on the Mound, I drove round to the Turnhouse side of the airfield and checked out the Lennybridge vantage point for the first time. Shots taken during the trip can viewed here.
Dargavel Village, Bishopton
Just to the northwest of the airport, on the far side of the M8, the Dargavel Village development on the old BAE Systems` Bishopton site continues to expand with additional housing and a new retail hub including a Sainsbury`s store in the pipeline. The massive regeneration project began in 2012 and significant progress has already been made in what is one of the largest programmes of its type in the UK.
There is an excellent vantage point to the east of the development, guarded by what looks like a naval cannon from the days of sail.
The open ground here is currently being landscaped with walkways and numerous tree plantings over the hillside and moor which will eventually grow to form a woodland, encouraging birds and animals to take up residence. As can be seen above, the gun, plaque and paved area on which they stand were presented by BAE Systems in recognition of the historical significance of the Bishopton and Georgetown factories which produced military ordnance between 1915-2002.
The land was previously occupied by the Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF), one of sixteen similar explosives ordnance factories built by the Ministry of Supply during the Second World War. The chosen location incorporated the site of the Georgetown Filling Factory at Fulwood near Bishopton, which had been constructed in 1915 at the height of the Great War and specialised in the manufacture of ammunition.
By 1917, over 10,000 workers were employed there, placing explosive into shell cases which would then be transported by rail. Unlike the later ROF at Bishopton, the Georgetown complex was purely an assembly line and did not manufacture the chemicals or explosive contents.
During the Great War, on the Western Front alone it`s estimated that around 1.5 billion shells were fired. The Battle of the Somme in 1916 started with a week-long artillery bombardment of the German lines during which Allied Forces fired 1,738,000 shells. No doubt tens of thousands of these were produced at Georgetown.
This image from the Imperial War Museum archives shows Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill being escorted through the yard of Georgetown's filling works by female workers during a visit on 9 October 1918. The factory closed in 1919, and was quickly decommissioned.
Construction of ROF Bishopton began in 1937 and a number of farms were swallowed up with the occupants forced to relocate. The complex eventually covered an area of some 2,000 acres (8 km²). ROF Bishopton was built to manufacture propellant, mainly cordite, for the British Army and the Royal Air Force but it wasn`t until 1965 that the factory started making cordite for the Royal Navy as until then they had a dedicated source.
ROF Bishopton was fully functional by April 1941 and around 20,000 workers were employed there. In addition to the factory buildings there was also on-site housing and facilities for the personnel. There were three explosive factories, Factories I, II, and III, with Factory 0 being the administration and support facility.
On-site, the explosive and chemical wagons were hauled by a dedicated fleet of diesel locomotives. A spur line close to Bishopton Station connected the ROF site with the national rail network with around 11 miles of standard gauge railway line laid within the complex. In addition there was a further 55 miles of 30 inch (760 mm) narrow-gauge railway line for transporting explosives. The track-lines are still visible in many of these aerial views which I took shortly before the site was cleared for development.
The platform and footbridge of Bishopton Railway Station feature in the above shot.
The processes to create the various chemicals used in the manufacture of explosives and propellant was complex and required numerous purpose-built structures, many of which were protected by earth berms or iron-clad blast walls.
Similar precautionary measures were taken with storage areas. For example, each factory had it's own nitroglycerine section. Nitric and sulphuric acids were added to glycerine at the top of a small hill and as the explosive is highly volatile, gravity, rather than a pump, would cause the mixture to flow downhill, passing through several washing and acid recovery stages on the way.
Water-filled ponds were conveniently situated for emergencies. Large quantities of nitric and sulphuric acids were required and these were made on-site. White phosphorus, cordite, Picrite (nitroguanidine) and a host of other chemicals were also manufactured and waste would either be recycled or dumped within the site.
There were various landfills and pits within the grounds but accurate records regarding disposal were not kept, especially in wartime. Developers, however, are adamant that the ground has been completely sanitised and rendered totally safe.
Especially in its later life, ROF Bishopton was a major processing centre for dismantling and disposing of old ammunition. Two large boiling-out houses, the "Big Steamie" and "Little Steamie", were used to steam the explosive out of artillery shells, and the volatile contents were then burnt on one of the large designated areas within the grounds.
Nowadays the modern solar roof panels on the new houses contrast with stark Cold War era bunkers.
ROF Bishopton was also tasked with the decommissioning of the nuclear capable, US manufactured Lance missile system although all warheads were removed prior to the missiles being forwarded to the Renfrewshire site.
Developed during the 1960s, the mobile short-range Lance was fielded by the U.S. Army from 1972 to 1992, mainly in western Europe. Several member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) also purchased the system, as did Israel.
The ROF complex, which was privatised in 1984, finally ceased explosives production in 2002. This website has some interesting photos taken in and around the complex prior to it being passed to developers, including many interior shots of the factory buildings: www.catchingphotons.co.uk.
When complete, Dargavel will see in the region of 4,000 homes and a new primary school. A new motorway junction, 29A, is currently being constructed at the M8 just east of Bishopton village and this will connect with the new retail hub, which is set to include five other units in addition to Sainsbury`s.
The new junction is being constructed where the A8 crossed the motorway, clearly visible towards the left hand side in the above shot from 2011. Work has recently recommenced on the partially completed slip roads here after the construction site lay dormant for many months to allow the ground to settle.
The shot below, taken from the site of the new junction, looks along the M8 Motorway towards Paisley and Glasgow Airport which is only 3 miles away.
These views show the A8 approaching the eastern edge of Bishopton and the M8 to Greenock looking north towards the Clyde.