Southend Airport

From Academic Kids

Missing image
A Flightline BAe 146 aircraft lands at London (Heathrow) Airport in July 2004. Flightline is a charter airline based at Southend Airport

Southend Airport is a small airport in south east England, in the county of Essex. Now known as London Southend Airport because of its closeness to London, the airport is actually closer to Rochford than it is to Southend. The airport web site is at London Southend Airport ( A frequent rail service runs from Rochford to London (Liverpool Street) and buses and taxis are readily available.

The airport has planning consent to build a new terminal and railway station on the eastern boundary of the airport, which will provide an integrated transport interchange with a minimal transfer time between train and terminal. It is hoped that this will be built and operational in 2006.

At present, the only regular air service is a scheduled flight to Jersey on summer Saturdays. Aircraft can be chartered from based airlines Flightline and Fly Now Air Charter.

There is much activity at the airport from business aircraft, pilot training in both aircraft and helicopters, recreational flying, etc. The airport employs over 1000 people in companies based on the airport, mostly concerened with the maintenance and re-spraying of airliners,and associated companies. An annual seafront airshow results in many aircraft being temporarily based at the airport for the duration of the displays.

Maintenance work at Southend Airport ranges from re-painting through the renewal of seating, upgrades to avionics and installation of hush-kits on engines, to the conversion of passenger aircraft into cargo carriers.

The airport's ambition to restart offering pasenger flights of use to the local population dovetails with Government aims outlined in the White Paper on airport development and the Thames Gateway development. A minority of the local population have objections to this. In 2002/3 a debate centered on the idea of relocating a church further away from the side of the main runway. This would enable passenger aircraft, of a size already regularly seen at the airport, to offer passenger flights to points further into Europe. Aircraft arriving empty for maintenance are not required to have the same CAA/ICAO standards as passenger carrying flights, so at present these can operate without the required CAA/ICAO requirements. However, a compromise scheme that sees the church remain where it is, has been worked out.

ATC (Lasham) are the major engineering company at the airport, having taken over Heavylift Engineering company. Other companies include: Air Livery, Inflite Engineering, Flightline Aircraft Engineering, JRB Aviation, Pathfinder Engineering, Avionicare, IAVNA and BAC Engineering.

London Southend Airport is renowned industry wide for its excellent weather record, which means that many airlines use it as an alternate when adverse weather or other incidents cause aircraft to divert in quantity from either Stansted or London City Airport.

The airport is also popular with film-makers who use the terminal to film aviation-related series, which can at present be accommodated because the terminal is not greatly used. Generally it functions as a cafe/lounge for spectators and private pilots, there is an information terminal, a photo booth and a cash machine. Some busy pubs and retail warehouses front the road between the air terminal and the traditional town centre. A preserved Avro Vulcan may be seen from that road. There is no longer a museum at this airport which once reverberated to flying car ferries such as the piston-engined Bristol Freighter.

Military History

The airfield was originally established by the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. In World War II it became an important fighter base for the RAF. Many of the 50 pillboxes, that were design to protect the airport from paratroop landings, still survive, as does the underground defence control room. A further 20 or so pillboxes also remain in the surrounding countryside.

Of related interest, Canewdon, a couple of miles to the north east of the airport, was the location of one of the World War II Chain Home radar stations. One of the 360 foot high transmitter towers can now be found near Great Baddow (2003).

See also



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