One visitor posted, “Gutted about the lack of Red Arrows display. And I use the word display lightly as a flypast certainly doesn’t cover it for me. And they were one of the main reasons we went. Highly unlikely we’ll be going again.”
Another claimed, “I’ve lived around Farnborough many years and the Red Arrows were always the highlight of the show, that flypast was a joke.”
“That flypast was a joke.”
So why no aerobatics?
The RAF outfit ordinarily takes its guidance from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on where they can perform stunts. However the CAA claim that the decision not to include high speed aerobatic manoeuvres in their Farnborough display is taken independently.
An RAF spokesman claimed that the performances are “no longer suitable” at Farnborough due to large amounts of “local housing, business areas and major transport links underneath the planned display area.”
They continued, “The Red Arrows will continue to complete flypasts in different formations, these together with more exciting opportunities for the public to engage with the Red Arrows team on the ground, and other RAF air and ground displays will ensure the Airshow remains a truly exciting, inspirational and entertaining family event.”
It’s suspected that the decision was directly linked to the Shoreham Airshow crash of 2015 when an ex-military jet crashed during a show killing 11 people and injuring 16. The aircraft, a Hawker Hunter T7, failed to complete a loop manoeuvre and subsequently plummeted onto the A27 road below. Despite the official investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch concluding that the crash resulted from pilot error, restrictions on high-energy aerobatic manoeuvres during airshows were introduced, limiting them to simple flypasts. Flypasts do not constitute as ‘display flying’ and so do not normally require the intervention of a public display authority.
Further disappointment for visitors
Back at the 2018 Farnborough show, visitors were furthermore unimpressed by the price of tickets, food and drink and the organisation of the event. One visitor said “I have attended the airshow most years since I was a child. 2018 will be my last year. What an absolutely atrocious event. I have never been so disappointed. This year I encouraged many other family members to come with us and needless to say I was super embarrassed. The show was an absolute joke. I will definitely not be coming again.”
Another visitor claimed, “Parking was abysmal – paid for priority park, but rude attendants wouldn’t tell us how to get to it, and told us general parking was ‘as good as we’d get’. Our free programme never eventuated, no one seemed to know where we collected it.”
A spokesperson for Farnborough said, “Whilst we have also had positive feedback and comments, it is disappointing to hear that this year’s show fell short of some people’s expectations.There are aspects of the show that are beyond our control but we understand that expectations of Farnborough are high, so we will be listening to customers’ feedback and ensuring we shape the 2020 Airshow to try and address them.”