Cranfield Airport

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Cranfield Airport
Airport typePrivate, former RAF Station
OperatorCranfield University
ServesBedford, Milton Keynes
Elevation AMSL358 ft / 109 m
Coordinates52°04′20″N 000°37′00″W / 52.07222°N 0.61667°W / 52.07222; -0.61667Coordinates: 52°04′20″N 000°37′00″W / 52.07222°N 0.61667°W / 52.07222; -0.61667
EGTC is located in Bedfordshire
Location in Bedfordshire
Direction Length Surface
m ft
03/21 1,799 5,902 Asphalt
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]

Cranfield Airport (ICAO: EGTC) is an airfield just outside the village of Cranfield, in Bedfordshire, England. It is 7 NM (13 km; 8.1 mi) south-west of Bedford and 5.5 NM (10.2 km; 6.3 mi) east of Milton Keynes.[2] It was originally a World War II aerodrome, RAF Cranfield. It is now used for business aviation, private flights, and for research and development activities.


RAF Cranfield was built by John Laing & Son on 100 acres (0.40 km2) of farmland acquired by the Air Ministry in 1935 as Britain re-armed to face the growing threats on the continent.[3] It was formally opened on 1 June 1937 and initially became the base for No. 62 Squadron RAF and No. 82 Squadron RAF of No. 1 (Bomber) Group, flying the already obsolete Hawker Hind biplanes.

Both squadrons converted to Blenheim 1s in 1938. 62 Squadron was moved to Singapore in August 1939 where it was destroyed by the invading Japanese Imperial forces. RAF Cranfield's grass airstrip was replaced with three hardened runways in the winter of 1939 and spring of 1940 and became a target for enemy action in the late summer of that year, with mines, bombs and incendiaries dropped on it and the nearby village of Cranfield.[citation needed]

Aircraftsman Vivian Hollowday, serving at the airfield, won the George Cross for the attempted rescue of two crews which crashed there in July and August 1940.[4]

August 1941 saw the fast developing station become a night fighter training centre with the arrival of No. 51 Night fighter Operational Training Unit. This was disbanded after the end of the war in Europe in May 1945 and the airfield became the site for a new College of Aeronautics (now Cranfield University); this college helped develop the highly successful Harrier Jump Jet and has serviced the Hurricanes and Spitfires of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The UK's sole remaining airworthy Avro Lancaster was based at Cranfield until 1964.[5][6]


Cranfield Aerodrome has a CAA Ordinary Licence (number P803) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee (Cranfield University)[7] situated next to the site.

The airfield is used for a small amount of university-related flights in addition to flying schools and private owners. One of the Met Office research aircraft (a BAE 146), operated under the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements, is usually based on the airfield.

Cranfield is also home to the privately owned English Electric Lightning T.5 XS458[8] which conducts regular demonstration fast taxi and ground runs at selected weekends during the summer months.

Situated 3 mi (4.8 km) to the northeast of the M1 motorway and Milton Keynes, the airfield has a large catchment area.

Although the length of the runway means that Cranfield can handle commercial aircraft (up to the size of a Boeing 757), the remaining infrastructure is not suitable for scheduled passenger flights or for the handling of such aircraft.

Navigation aids include:[9]

  • NDB 'CIT' which is located 3.5 NM (6.5 km; 4.0 mi) to the north-east of the aerodrome
  • ILS/DME equipment for runway 21
  • VDF
  • GNSS approaches to both runways

Current operations and planned developments[edit]

In September 2016, the press reported that until the end of March 2017, the airport would be closed at weekends while a new air traffic control officer (ATCO) was trained; during this period, there would be days when only a single ATCO was available, and on those days, reduced opening hours would operate. Planned and permanent redistribution of aircraft traffic (PPR) was introduced. During this period, runway rejuvenation work was also carried out.[10]

In early 2018, the press reported plans to expand the airport's business aviation activities with a new terminal, a hotel and other improvements and to rename the airport 'London' Cranfield Airport.[11] In April 2018, it was reported that Central Bedfordshire Council had granted planning permission for a new 'Air Park', expected to be completed in 2024.[12]


  1. ^ "Cranfield - EGTC" (AIP). NATS Aeronautical Information Service.
  2. ^ "Milton Keynes to Cranfield Airport". Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  3. ^ Ritchie, Berry (1997). The Good Builder: The John Laing Story. James & James. p. 91.
  4. ^ "Cranfield College of Aeronautics history" (PDF). Cranfield University. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 December 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  5. ^ "Cranfield College of Aeronautics history" (PDF). Cranfield University. pp. 3–4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 December 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
  6. ^ "Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - Lancaster history". RAF. Retrieved 5 August 2009.
  7. ^ "Civil Aviation Authority Aerodrome Ordinary Licences" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 June 2007.
  8. ^ "Lightning T.5".
  9. ^ "Cranfield Airport – pilot information".
  10. ^ "Cranfield airport in crisis following ATCO shortage". FLYER. 14 September 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Bizjets encouraged at 'London' Cranfield Airport". FLYER. 13 February 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  12. ^ Pickering, Kirstie (9 April 2018). "Planning permission granted for Cranfield Airport air park". Business Airport International.

External links[edit]