Mildenhall: RAF base admits to neighbours that ‘noisy’ Ospreys will be tested overnight throughout the summer months
15:20 15 April 2014
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People living close to a west Suffolk airbase face a miserable summer with hybrid aircraft due to carry out testing during the dead of night.
The new CV-22 Ospreys are relatively new additions to RAF Mildenhall having arrived last year, but have already prompted complaints from residents about their noisy take-off and landing.
The craft are part-plane, part-helicopter, but take off vertically like helicopters
Squadron leader Rick Fryer told a meeting of Beck Row Parish Council that night-time training exercises would be getting progressively later at the base, with craft taking off at 11pm and coming back at 2am between May and September.
“However, each aircraft is limited to a single take-off to get away, and a single landing after it comes back,” said Sqn Ldr Fryer.
“I know that isn’t good news for those of us that hear it. I’m the first to admit it’s loud when it’s the helicopter. However, we are trying – and it sounds like the wrong answer – to spread the pain.
“It has to take off and land. I admit it is noisy when it does take off and land, but we are trying to get those take-off and landings to be fewer here, and allow it to operate in other places.”
Those at the meeting who questioned why they could not take off from quieter parts of the base were told the Ospreys have to take off from special concrete pads, because the force they generate when taking off melts tarmac and sets fire to grass.
Sqn Ldr Fryer said: “For the pilots to be able to evade modern threats, and old-fashioned threats, they have to train in a regime that is as realistic as possible.
“The only way to practise for night flying is to fly at night.
“Our aim at the Ministry of Defence is to try and minimise the amount of take off and landing to that which facilitates the rest of the training.”
Sqn Ldr Fryer also said they had to perform a ‘hover check’ before they actually took off, to ensure its systems were working.
While Sqn Ldr Fryer said this typically lasted 20 seconds, parish councillor Philip Haylock said it felt like helicopters were hovering for half an hour at times, and “certainly a lot more than 20 seconds”.