Every year one of the main highlights of the Weymouth Carnival is the air displays of the Red Arrows, and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, however following the tragic Shoreham air disaster last year the future of air displays in the UK has been the subject of a lot of discussion. For the Weymouth Carnival organisers the safety of spectators is considered to be absolutely paramount and Cancellation of the displays at Carnival has been a very real possibility.
Carnival Chairman Ryan Hope stated “As far as Weymouth Carnival is concerned, with just two displays, both involving military aircraft, the impact is fortunately not as severe as with the larger shows with civilian aircraft. We obviously do not wish to compromise safety and if there was any increased concern then we would not hesitate to cancel the displays.
However, we have been carefully studying the new regulations and although the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has yet to finalise their conclusions, at this stage we have made the decision to go ahead, subject to CAA approval”
The Carnival Committee have given considerable thought to the application of the new regulations and to the cost, which will see the CAA fee doubled. There will also be a requirement for a CAA qualified “Flight Display Director” (FDD) on the ground at Carnival HQ on Carnival day. This is a qualified pilot who will be in constant radio contact with both the display pilots and local air traffic control and will closely regulate the displays.
Every year a detailed map highlighting the display area and indicating where crowds congregate are submitted for approval to the RAF and CAA by the Carnival organisers, along with a detailed risk assessment. These inform the plans for the displays themselves, allowing them to avoid high risk areas. This year a much more detailed map and risk assessment are required and are currently being prepared in consultation with the local emergency services. Mr Hope added; “The Red Arrows and the BBMF already perform over the sea anyway, not over the land, and despite the breath-taking display of the fast jets, the pilots and their aircraft are some of the best in the world. We are looking forward to being thrilled once again at this year’s Carnival”
“ We are currently looking into a 3rd military display as the CAA licence we have to obtain allows 3 displays before you enter the next level, this will be cost dependant and will rely on sponsors coming forward”
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