RAF Shawbury, commanded by a Group Captain, is located in North Shropshire, approximately 55 miles northwest of Birmingham.
2.0 Air Traffic Management Standards and Evaluation
Air Traffic Management Standards and Evaluation (ATM Staneval) was established to implement the Air Traffic Management Assurance Scheme (ATMAS). ATM Staneval is commanded by a Squadron Leader and comprises 5 RAF officers of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Branch, one Warrant Officer ATC Trade and two Trade Group 9 specialists, all supported by one civilian Administration Officer.
The primary task of the ATM Staneval is to assure periodically all RAF Air Traffic Controllers and Trade Group 9 personnel during a formal operational assurance visit to each RAF ATC unit. These visits ensure that controlling techniques are standardised across the Service and that controllers maintain the high professional standards demanded by the RAF. The ATM Staneval staff also examines and appoints Local Examining Officers (LEO) at each RAF ATC unit to administer the day-to-day implementation of the ATMAS.
3.0 Central Flying School (Helicopters)
The Central Flying School (Helicopters) (CFS(H)) Examining Squadron, commanded by a Squadron Leader, forms part of the CFS Examining Wing but is a lodger unit within RAF Shawbury.
The CFS Examining Wing, although based within the CFS HQ at RAFC Cranwell, is a diverse unit responsible for examining all aspects of flying and flying instruction. The Commandant CFS is responsible, through their staff, for maintaining the aim of the CFS; which is to develop and maintain the highest possible standards of pure flying and flying instruction on both fixed and rotary wing aircraft throughout the RAF.
The Officer Commanding (OC) of CFS(H) is always a RAF Squadron Leader, with the remainder of the staff taken from the 3 Services. There are currently (April 2014) 3 RN, 3 Army and 8 RAF QHIs (Qualified Helicopter Instructor), and one RAF QHCI (Qualified Helicopter Crewman Instructor) on strength. All instructors have completed at least one instructional tour, hold at least an A2 instructional category and have been selected by the Commandant CFS for their ability to give best guidance on the art of helicopter flying instruction.
The primary aim of CFS(H) is to ensure that all helicopter aircrew across the Services, and in many cases across the waters, are taught in the most professional and thorough manner possible.
The CFS(H) provides two courses for Pilots and Crewmen and selection to attend these courses is made by the students’ parent unit. Students should normally be graded as having high average ability in their specialisation. CFS(H) also runs a special course for Foreign and Commonwealth students which familiarises them with the Squirrel helicopter and UK operations before the instructors course begins. Besides courses for students, CFS(H) also runs courses to bring new members of staff up to the required standard to teach on the courses.
Student courses commence with a combined 5-week ground school phase, which consists of 2-weeks of instructional techniques followed by 3-weeks of lessons on a variety of subjects including meteorology, navigation and airmanship, aircraft tech and principles of flight. The timescales for the flying phases for the various courses are as follows:
- Pilot (CFS(H) Instructor Courses, Pilot):
- Conversion: 2 weeks.
- Instructional: 12 weeks.
- Crewman (CFS(H) Instructor Courses, Crewman):
- Conversion: 2 weeks.
- Instructional: 8 weeks.
CFS(H) delivers five courses a year with approximately 12 pilots and 2 crewmen on each course. The pilots consist mostly of an even mixture of RAF, Royal Navy, Army and Foreign Service pilots. Newly graduated instructors are awarded a B2 category, a probationary grade which should be upgraded to B1 after some 6-9 months of practical instruction on their respective units. Unlike CFS fixed wing squadrons, where instructors are taught on the aircraft on which they will eventually instruct, CFS(H) graduates are as likely to find themselves teaching basic students as they are teaching advanced exercises on a front line operational squadron. CFS(H) is therefore unique in teaching a student ‘how to teach’ rather than ‘what to teach’.
4.0 Defence Helicopter Flying School
The Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) is based at RAF Shawbury, but is an independent unit within the Station. DHFS was formed on 01 April 1997.
The role of DHFS is to provide basic single-engine helicopter training for the Royal Navy, Army, RAF and some Foreign and Commonwealth countries. Additional conversion and refresher courses are also provided for qualified aircrew. On completion of the single-engine phase, DHFS also provides advanced twin-engine helicopter training for RAF and some RN aircrew, plus other special courses for the three Services.
DHFS provides this training using contractor-owned aircraft and a proportion of civilian (ex-military) flying instructors (approximately 40%). DHFS trains approximately 450 students a year, including ab-initio pilots and crewmen as well as postgraduate students. DHFS utilises the Squirrel HT1 (Euro copter AS350BB) and the Griffin HT1 (Bell 412 EP) helicopters which are maintained by the contractor, FB Heliservices Ltd.
DHFS comprises a HQ and five training squadrons. Students carry out their academic training at the Ground Training School before starting basic flying training with one of two Single Engine Rotary Wing Squadrons; designated 705 Naval Air Squadron and 660 Squadron AAC, commanded by a RN Lieutenant Commander and an Army Major respectively.
RAF students and some RN students progress to the Multi-Engine Advanced Rotary Wing Squadron designated Sixty (Reserve) Squadron RAF and commanded by a RAF Squadron Leader. Students are detached from their RAF Shawbury based squadrons for periods to the DHFS Search and Rescue Training Unit (SARTU), which is located at RAF Valley in North Wales, to carry out training in advanced techniques in this more challenging environment. In addition, SARTU provides training courses for personnel of the Search and Rescue force.
Command of the DHFS is rotational, as are the posts of Chief Instructor and Deputy Chief Instructor. In addition, instructional staff in the training squadrons’ come from all three Services. This arrangement ensures that the DHFS provides instruction, compatible to all three Services, to achieve its aim of producing high quality helicopter pilots and crewmen for the Armed Services of the United Kingdom.
5.0 Central Air Traffic Control School
The Central Air Traffic Control School (CATCS) plays an important role in maintaining the operational effectiveness of the RAF and RN by providing Air Traffic Control Officers, Flight Operations Officers and assistants.
The task of CATCS is to train ab-initio personnel for employment in Air Traffic Control and Flight Operations duties, providing post-graduate training to experienced personnel to further their professional development.