This week sees the glorious return of Farnborough International Air show, a biennial event which showcases a blend of trade stands and air displays. After an unplanned four-year hiatus when Covid cancelled the 2020 event, this year’s show is extra special. Farnborough air show attracts both civil and military aircraft and helicopters from all over the world. This year the new Boeing B777-900 and the Boeing B737- Max 10 will even be making an appearance

Planning for the air show starts around 12 months before the actual event itself, with various airport agencies and Farnborough International (the organising company) holding high level planning meetings – agreeing the date, the format of the show etc. As the months go on, these meetings become more focused on the specific aspects like timings and logistics of the air show.

Air traffic control procedures and paperwork start to be submitted three to four months before the air show and then finally ATC briefings are completed just before the validation week. Validation occurs in the week preceding the airshow and requires  display pilots to prove that they can safely perform their approved display.  The validation display is monitored by members of the Flight Control Committee, who will determine if the display is safe to operate in the show.

The planning for the show really is a team effort and calls upon current unit management and also experienced individuals to pull together and update previous years procedures, ensuring they are fit to use in the current air traffic environment and airport operation.

As the air show involves so many different agencies and variables, there is always something that undoubtedly needs last minute attention. This basically means that until the air show is completely over, the preparation doesn’t end!

2022 has also, so far, been a record year for Farnborough Airport, and, as such, during the times when the display is not active, there is still a great demand to operate to and from Farnborough. This means that we are consistently busy in the control tower during the show, even when the aircraft aren’t displaying.

To ensure we have enough controllers throughout the length of the show, NATS loans members of other units into Farnborough to bolster the resource – a big thank you to Glasgow and Manchester, Area and Terminal Control for loaning us some of their team!

The airspace above the airport remains in use during the show; however, the CAA allow us the extra protection of a Restricted Area around Farnborough. We work closely with our neighbouring airports to ensure their operations can continue to run as far as practicable during display periods.

I’m really excited about the air show this year. It is the culmination of a lot of hard work across the airport and NATS team. Seeing large commercial traffic operating from an airport, where we mainly see small business jets, will be interesting, however, the South Korean display team ‘The Black Eagles’ will steal the show, I’m sure!

The Farnborough International Air show will be running from Monday 18 July – Friday 22 July.


Please respect our commenting policy and guidelines when posting on this website.

Leave a Reply


Please start typing and we will search our website for you.

Search Results