|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2013)|
|IATA: none – ICAO: EGNO|
|Elevation AMSL||55 ft / 17 m|
|Sources: UK AIP at NATS|
Today the airfield is a major assembly and testing facility of BAE Systems Military Air & Information.
Warton Aerodrome has a CAA Ordinary Licence (Number P748) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee (BAE Systems (Operations) Limited).
The airfield was first operated as an air depot of the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, as thousands of aircraft were processed on their way to active service in Britain, North Africa, the Mediterranean and mainland Europe. On 23 August 1944, the accidental crash of an American United States Army Air Forces B-24 Liberator heavy bomber caused the Freckleton Air Disaster.
It then became a Royal Air Force station.
BAC, BAe and BAE Systems
With the merger of English Electric Aviation and the other aircraft divisions of the major British manufacturers in 1960, it became a British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) site. BAC was then nationalised and merged with Hawker Siddeley and Scottish Aviation to form British Aerospace (BAe) in 1977, which was later privatised in 1981, until its final transformation into BAE Systems in 1999. As such the airfield has been the testing ground for several front line aircraft including the Canberra, the Lightning, the TSR-2, the Sepecat Jaguar, the Panavia Tornado and BAE Hawk (formerly the Hawker Siddeley Hawk) and most recently the Eurofighter Typhoon.
In June 2010 The Sun reported that poisonous red back spiders had been discovered in a consignment of parts from Australia. The article expressed fears that these spiders would colonise the surrounding countryside. As a routine response, BAE Systems employed a specialist contractor who quickly managed to eliminate the spiders. The contractors were assisted by the fact that the Australian red back spider has very visible nests, a relatively short two-week gestation period, a reluctance to wander from its nest, and an intolerance to the British climate except at the height of summer. BAE Systems also implemented a number of measures to prevent further incursions of foreign species in subsequent consignments from Australia.
Warton was used as the base for all British development aircraft (DA) and Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) in the Eurofighter programme. Warton has been home to the initial Typhoon squadrons of the Royal Air Force, No. 17 Squadron and No. 29 Squadron. This was under the so-called "Case White" programme where BAE assumes more responsibility for training and support of the new aircraft than previous RAF types which were introduced under a more "in house" system. BAE insist that this allows inevitable problems with any new aircraft to be quickly ironed out by BAE personnel on site. BAE plans to offer this on site service to any export customers.
Warton was also used for development flying of the Nimrod MRA4 Maritime Reconnaissance and Attack aircraft until the aircraft was cut in the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010.
The final new build Tornado left Warton in 1998, a GR.1 for Saudi Arabia. Following this the main assembly hall was re-fitted as the final assembly site of the Eurofighter Typhoon. BAE estimate that modern manufacturing techniques will allow the 30 week assembly time for a Tornado to be reduced to 16 weeks for the Typhoon.
Warton is the base for BAE Systems' Corporate Air Travel department which operates scheduled services for employees (and those of partner organisations) to Farnborough, Munich, Filton, Cambridge, RAF Coningsby, and RAF Marham. The Farnborough and Munich services are provided by Corporate Air Travel's BAe 146 aircraft, with the others contracted out to other operators. Many ad hoc passenger flights also take place operated by various VIP operators including the Queen's Flight.
The site is not open to the public, although limited areas are made accessible during Open Days (currently on a four yearly cycle) which the company holds for the families and friends of employees and local residents. These Open Days, which are free of charge, typically include demonstrations of activities, tours of simulation facilities and impressive flying displays.
Since 21 November 1994, Lancashire Constabulary has operated an Air Support Unit from the site with their G-LASU Eurocopter AS.355N Twin Squirrel Oscar November 21. This aircraft is fitted with special equipment as follows: AGEMA/Leo 400 nose FLIR/Video turret, searchlight, Nitesun, comms systems.