Barrow/Walney Island Airport
|Barrow/Walney Island Airport|
|Operator||BAE Systems Marine Ltd - Submarine Solutions|
|Location||Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England, United Kingdom|
|Elevation AMSL||44 ft / 13 m|
Barrow/Walney Island Airport (IATA: BWF, ICAO: EGNL) (formerly RAF Walney Island) is located on Walney Island, 1.5 NM (2.8 km; 1.7 mi) northwest of the centre of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England. The airport is owned by BAE Systems, who operate private communication flights to locations across the United Kingdom. The Lakes Gliding Club also operates out of the airport.
In 2016 proposals to redevelop and expand the airport were put before Barrow Borough Council, although not for commercial purposes.
Barrow/Walney Island Airport was opened during World War II, though the site had been used as an airship station since World War I. Three runways were constructed, laid out in a triangular arrangement, for use by the based Royal Air Force flying units. The airfield was disused after World War II, and was sold on in 1959 to Vickers, the company that owned Barrow shipyard. Commercial flights operated from the airport in the late 20th century but ceased in 1992.
During the early 20th century a site 1 mile south west of Barrow/Walney Island Airport was used for one of the UK's most important airship production facilities. For a brief period, the industry was equally as vital for the local economy as Barrow's booming ship building industry. Between 1910 and 1920, such airships as No. 9r, R80, and the SS class blimp were constructed by Vickers, Sons and Maxim for the British Royal Navy at Walney - having relocated from alongside Cavendish Dock in Barrow.
Commercial flights used the airport during the 1980s and 1990s. Air Ecosse flew to Edinburgh, Carlisle and Liverpool from 1982 until 1983 using Twin Otter aircraft. Air Furness commenced scheduled passenger flights from the airport in 1984, flying predominantly to Manchester. The flights were designed to connect with international services from Manchester and were operated up to four times daily using Islander aircraft. Air Furness ceased operations in 1988. Despite a final attempt to run scheduled services from the airport in 1991-1992 by Telair, the airport is currently used only for private flights.
In 2004 a study into the airport revealed that a £1 million upgrade would attract thousands of business passengers a year flying to London and Europe. The study found that the business demand from South Cumbria would be equal to 4,500 journeys in a year, reaching 7,900 by 2020. These are still only plans to convert Barrow/Walney Island Airport into an international airport, but already the number of aircraft using the airfield has increased with the completion of an upgrade programme. The work includes Instrument Landing System (ILS) installation for runway 35, resurfacing of runway 17/35, re-lighting of runway 17/35, security fencing around the entire airfield and other improvements such as signage.
In 2005, an airshow was held at the site. Following its success a second was planned for 2007 but was later cancelled.
In 2016 BAE Systems submitted plans to Barrow Borough Council to redevelop and expand parts of the airport by constructing a new terminal and air traffic control tower, hangar, garage for support vehicles including a fire engine, a new car park and upgraded roadway and an aircraft apron. In the same year DONG Energy proposed the construction of a heliport, additional hangar and associated office buildings.
BAE Systems operates flights to UK destinations during the week, using five Beechcraft King Air B200 aircraft. This includes a twice-a-day shuttle to Farnborough, a three-times-a-day shuttle to Bristol and a twice daily shuttle to East Midlands. However other non-scheduled aircraft have used the airport. The Lakes Gliding Club operate at weekends when the weather conditions are favourable and light aircraft fly throughout the week.
Airlines and destinations
Below are the destinations flown to by the BAE corporate shuttle.
|BAE||Bristol, Farnborough, Glasgow International, RAF Northolt, Southampton, Wick, East Midlands|
Accidents and incidents
- On 26 November 1976, a Piper PA-31 Navajo from Edinburgh Airport was making its final approach to Runway 30 of Barrow/Walney Island Airport. Due to adverse weather conditions and a poorly lit runway the plane slammed into an embankment alongside the Walney Channel killing the pilot and seriously injuring two passengers.