Contractors working on aerial



The presence of civilian engineering personnel at RAF Shawbury is not a new phenomenon, as the majority of the No 27 Maintenance unit workforce, which arrived in 1938, was civilian. The civilian presence on the base was then enhanced in 1961 with the arrival of Marshall of Cambridge (Outstations) Ltd, which won the contract to service and fly the Varsity, Piston Provost and Vampire aircraft, to man engineering-related sections and to service and maintain the air traffic control simulators.

In 1979 Marshalls won the contract to run the Bulldog and Chipmunk second-line servicing for the majority of the university air squadrons and air experience flights, until 1990. Also, in 1986, Marshalls took over from the RAF the responsibility for helicopter maintenance, fixed-wing aircraft storage, supply and a range of supporting functions.

FRA SERCo Arrives

The engineering and supply support contract renewal in 1991 saw a new contractor on the scene, FRA SERCo – a consortium of Flight Refuelling Aviation ltd and SERCo Defence.

The DHFS Contract

In October 1996 the existing contract was replaced with another contract with FBS, a company formed between Flight Refuelling Aviation, Bristows Helicopters Ltd and SERCo. This 15-year contract not only covered the engineering and supply aspects already in place, but also included the provision of the 35 Squirrel and Griffin helicopters for the Defence Helicopter Flying School at Shawbury. In practice, FBS now sub-contracts the support of the DHFS and RAF Shawbury to FB Heli Services (formerly FR Aviation Services) thus maintaining the partnership between the company and RAF Shawbury forged over the previous 5 years. Also included in the contract is the provision of 40% of the helicopter instructors, Operations Support staff and Flight Systems Operators in the Central Air Traffic Control School.

Aircraft Storage

A number of front-line and training aircraft, not required for day-to-day use, are held in reserve at RAF Shawbury. These spares are stored in four specially de-humidified hangars at varying states of readiness and can be brought back into active service as required by the RAF's overall airframe management policy which aims to equalise fatigue life across the fleet. Aircraft brought in for storage, either by road or air, are inspected and prepared in the Aircraft Storage Unit's two preparation hangars, according to the depth of storage required; whilst the aircraft are in storage the FB Heli Services maintenance engineers perform routine checks including periodic engine running before aircraft are brought back into use they are given a thorough servicing and, unless being transported to their destination by road, are air-tested before departure from RAF Shawbury to their operating unit. Some aircraft and helicopter types no longer required for Service use are also stored at Shawbury pending their disposal.