Norfolk

Aircraft manufacturer can use former RAF Coltishall runway

RAF Coltishall Image copyright Evelyn Simak / Geograph
Image caption The disused runway at RAF Coltishall is now flanked by energy panels for a solar farm

An aircraft builder has been granted permission to bring a former RAF base runway back into use for tests.

Swift Aircraft now plans to build 96 two-seater aircraft a year, employing 100 people on production and design, "bringing aviation back to Norfolk".

The firm moved to the former RAF Coltishall site at Scottow Enterprise Park two years ago.

"It's a fantastic step that we have been striving for since we relocated," said managing director Dave Stanbridge.

"It's the last piece in the jigsaw."

North Norfolk District Council gave the green light to use the runway on Thursday, the decision still has to be rubber-stamped by neighbouring Broadland District Council, because the enterprise park stretches into both districts.

The based was used by military aircraft for 60 years up to its closure in 2006.

"The runway is in fantastic condition and was built to military specification so will be durable and no extra work will be needed," Mr Stanbridge said.

"Our aerobatic composite propeller plane will be the first fully-certified aircraft to be built in Britain for the past 25 years.

"We are aiming for the first flight of an amateur-build aircraft in March and a fully-certified version by September next year.

"It's going to be a big operation. We have two large hangars and a building.

"We are bringing aviation back to Norfolk and have plans to introduce innovative technology."

North Norfolk has laid down conditions of no more than eight flights per day between 08:00 and 18:00 on weekdays and no more than four on Saturdays up to 13:00.

There are also restrictions to keep aircraft movements to six minutes and within a set boundary around the enterprise park.

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