According to figures released by the Ministry of Defence, the total amount of compensation paid for all low flying claims since June 2021 is £423,084.52.
According to Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence:
“The total amount of compensation paid for all low flying claims since June 2021 is £423,084.52. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is unable to verify whether claimants are landowners or hold other occupations.
The MOD takes the issue of safe low flying extremely seriously and understands that military low flying can be noisy and unpopular but it is an essential part of operational training. The MOD is constantly striving to ensure that such disturbance is kept to an absolute minimum and that the burden of noise pollution is as evenly distributed as possible throughout the UK Low Flying System as a whole. In order to ensure that military low flying is as accountable to the public as possible the MOD provides the Low Flying Complaints Enquiry Unit, located at RAF Wittering, which allows the public to report low flying incidents which have raised concern.”
Why do aircraft conduct low flying?
Although military low flying in the UK has reduced since 1988, it remains an essential skill for military aircrew. It allows them to undertake various roles like:
- search and rescue
- transporting troops or humanitarian aid
It also provides military aircrews with one of the best chances of survival. Whatever missions we ask our armed forces to undertake, the aircrew must be able to fulfil the task as effectively as possible, often without time for ‘work up’ training. They are only able to do this through specialist training gained through the use of the UK low flying system.
According to the Government website, the UK military low flying system covers the open airspace of the whole of the UK and surrounding overseas areas from the surface to 2,000 feet above ground level (AGL) or mean sea level (MSL).
“Major towns and cities are generally avoided by low flying aircraft; unless there are local landing sites situated in your vincinity. In some areas of the country, a combination of airspace restrictions and topographical features make it difficult for aircrew to greatly vary their routes. So some areas will experience a higher number of military aircraft then others. There are no set flight paths. Aircrew plan each sortie individually, taking into account environmental and industrial hazards. Routes will be varied as much as possible to spread the disturbance to those on the ground, although this is not always practical.
Aircrew do not use specific properties as navigation markers, as this would severely restrict their tactical freedom. It is not inconceivable that aircrew might, on occasion; select an isolated/prominent building or static vehicle for this purpose, but it is most unlikely that the same marker would be chosen on a regular basis. It is very unlikely that a low flying military aircraft will set off a burglar or car alarm however, if this does occur this is not an indication of a breach of military flying regulations.”
Flight simulators are also used as part of our training programmes; however there is currently no acceptable substitute for actual low flying. At present, say the RAF, simulators do not provide the scope to safely further reduce the volume of low flying.
Additionally, they add, “Some training is carried out over the sea, but the sea is flat and featureless and does not provide realistic training that is necessary to prepare aircrew for operations.”