Biggin Hill tells flying schools to quit

All the flying schools on Biggin Hill Airport have been given six months’ notice to stop flight training at the airport.

The shock news came on the same day that the Airport received planning permission for a 56-bedroom hotel on a site adjacent to the location of EFG Flying School and The Lookout Cafe.

Anoop Singh Bamrah and Shonu Bamrah, who operate EFG Flying School which has been at Biggin Hill since 1959, said, “It has come as a shock to us, and all other flying schools at Biggin Hill, that we have all been given six months’ notice to cease flight training at this airport.

“Our Head of Training, Wing Commander Ray Watson, has kept the props turning and students learning at Biggin for nearly six decades. [On] January 3rd 1959, Rex Nicholls flew the first EFG aircraft into Biggin Hill.

“Since then we have trained thousands of pilots and witnessed careers blossom for both our students, pilots and our own instructors.

“Our pilots have gone on to fly for legacy airlines, short and long haul airlines, corporate jets, purchase their own planes, and of course many still fly with us.

“We take great pride in each and every one of our students and members and will continue to do so.”

EFG is discussing relocation with other airfield operators in the south-east, and assures any student training with them that there will be continuity.

Biggin Hill Airport management says the decision is a matter of safety, citing the difficulty of keeping light aircraft separated from modern high performance business jets. It beleives the airport has become suitable for experienced pilots only.

Will Curtis, managing director of the airport, said: “After a great deal of careful consideration, we have reluctantly decided that reducing the volume of light aviation at London Biggin Hill is the only way to address the safety concerns that have arisen as a result of the growth of business aviation at the airport.

“Although we are committed to providing dedicated facilities for light aviation at the airport in the long term, we must always put the safety of our customers and those living and working around the airport before all other considerations.

“We will continue to support the flying clubs affected by this decision, and will assist in their relocation should they choose to move to an alternative site, such as nearby aerodromes Redhill and Damyns Hall Farm.”

In February, Biggin Hill Airport raised landing fees to deter circuit training. The other flying schools at Biggin Hill are Surrey & Kent Flying Club and the Alouette Flying Club.

Biggin Hill Airport hotel planning permission

Bromley Council approved Biggin Hill Airport’s plan for a 56-bedroom hotel, with restaurant, gymnasium, road access, car park and sub-station on Tuesday, 13 March 2018. It was submitted on 17 November 2017.

Biggin Hill Hotel plan
Site plan of where Biggin Hill Airport plans to build a hotel. EFG’s flying school is just north of the site.



  1. I’m one of EFG’s graduates from the 60s, taught by the late great Rex Nicholls and Peter Elliott. Like many other EFG members, I went on to a career in the airlines, and still value the quality of their initial training. I also still manage, against the odds, to keep flying in a Permit 2-seater occasionally.
    It’s very sad to see the power of money finally dealing the deathblow to flying training at Biggin, but everything’s run by accountants and crooks nowadays who say one thing, but then do whatever puts more money in their pockets. Just ‘going somewhere else’ is not an option, as the number of airfields in the south-east is now a fraction of what was available in the past, and they’re all designated as ‘brown-field’ and thus have a serious threat of destruction in favour of housing.
    It’s short-sighted and wrong, but inevitable in a capitalist society when there’s no national plan. Airfields are merely part of property developers’ Monopoly game, when they should be nurtured as an important part of national infrastructure, and their training activities recognised as legitimate professional development, free of VAT, and not just ‘the wealthy playing with their toys’.
    We should emulate the French in the thirties – nationalise airfields, and subsidise flying and engineering training for the benefit of the nation. It won’t happen of course – I fear the bottom end of GA will be priced out of the south-east, Class A airspace will cover the country for the convenience of the rich and our leaders won’t notice or care.
    Fortunately I’ll have my own personal wings before our rich aviation heritage is completely thrown away, but I feel sorry for future generations for whom the dream of flight will remain just that.

    1. It’s actually worse than you reallise. Quite recently, the government announced two linked, but individually innoccuous pieces of information.

      First: Under new planning rules to be introduced this year, airfields that form part of the national network of aviation facilities will have their status noted and protected under planning guidance.

      Sounds like good news, right?

      Secondly: MP Byron Davis has been assigned the task of identifying which aviation facilities should be part of the national network.

      Put another way: If the airfield is not considered to be part of the strategic network, it will earmarked as brownfield and ripe for development.

      We will see many more airports disappear in the next decade, mark my words.

    1. I have little faith in anything positive coming from this. Byron Davies has been assigned the task of deciding which airports deserve planning protection and which can be earmarked for development.

      I quote: ” I am delighted to announce that Byron will be coming into the Department for Transport as the General Aviation Champion, to lead our work on defining a strategic network of airfields and what protective measures would best secure this network.”

      Note the “defining a strategic network” … it is a filtering excercise … either your field is marked as in the network or it is not.

      Add to this the new planning guidance: The revised text includes new Paragraph 105(f) which says that planning policies should “recognise the importance of maintaining a national network of general aviation facilities – taking into account their economic value in serving business, leisure, training and emergency service needs, and the Government’s General Aviation Strategy”.

      Put simply: if your airfield is not selected by Byron Davies to be part of the strategic national network, it will effectively be green lighted for development.

      “and now we come to item 2 on our planning agenda, conversion of xxxx airfield to housing, and it has been pointed out to the committee that the restrictions on planning regarding protection of airfields do not apply to this site as it is not considered to be important in terms of the national network … ”

      Two things you can do:

      1) respond to the consultation: ask them to change the wording to include ALL currently active airfields, not just the ones on Byron’s list.

      2) contact Byron Davies and invite him to visit YOUR airfield. Talk to your user group, fly down and pick him up!



  2. Shame I got my wings at Biggin on the bump with Cabair flying training, it is a great shame that they are forcing flying training out of such a historic airfield! I could have learnt elsewhere but chose Biggin as it was a busy and controlled airfield in busy airspace and I thought if I learnt to fly out of there going anywhere else would be easy after I got my wings, it proved to be a good decision.

  3. I thought the latest NPPF (National Planning ….) specified that airfields were to be retained. What is Biggin’s reason for throwing out training? Where will the country train pilots if flying schools are closed? As others have commented, this would appear to be short term gain rather than long term policy.

    1. Well, the latest NPPF draft says :
      “105. Planning policies should:
      a) . . . e)
      f) recognise the importance of maintaining a national network of general aviation
      facilities –
      taking into account their economic value in serving business, leisure, training and emergency service needs, and the Government’s General Aviation Strategy.”
      So only warm words and no compulsion there, and the brownfield anomaly still exists. A small step in the right direction, but no more.

      As to why kick out training, I suppose Biggin can make loads more money out of bizjets rather than PPL training, and don’t want the plutocrats in their Gulfstreams delayed by a peasant in a C152, so no contest really, as they see it! Just like Farnborough do, and Shoreham etc would love to do . .

      1. >>> I suppose Biggin can make loads more money out of bizjets rather than PPL training, and don’t want the plutocrats in their Gulfstreams delayed by a peasant in a C152, so no contest really, <<<
        ….and soon there will be no British pilots to fly them ! It’s becoming a problem already; not the job that the young kids want these days. Costs too much money, too much time….and too much effort for our new “entitled” generation. Easier to go into the City and make your millions !

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