Sleaford MP visits pilot training firm at RAF College

Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Dr Caroline Johnson paid a visit today (Friday) to the firm tasked with supplying the equipment for teaching the RAF pilots of the future to fly.

From left - Mark Damme, Affinity Driver/Handler; Dr Caroline Johnson MP; Affinity Managing Director Iain Chalmers and Sam Craft, Affinity Aircraft Technician. Photo: Affinity Flying Training Services May 2021 EMN-210528-172348001

Dr Johnson visited Affinity Flying Training Services based at RAF College Cranwell, which is responsible for delivering the fixed-wing training aircraft for the MOD’s Military Flying Training System programme (MFTS).

Affinity is a joint venture between Elbit Systems UK and KBR Inc and has three UK sites: RAF College Cranwell and RAF Barkston Heath in Lincolnshire and RAF Valley, North Wales.

Dr Johnson met with Iain Chalmers, Managing Director and Accountable Manager for Affinity. After a tour of the modern facilities and a look at the Grob Prefect 120TP and Embraer Phenom 100 aircraft which are based at Cranwell, Iain gave an insight into how Affinity supports the MFTS programme.

Affinity Managing Director Iain Chalmers shows Dr Caroline Johnson MP a Grob 120 TP Prefect. Photo: Affinity Flying Training Services May 2021. EMN-210528-172359001

He also shared with Dr Johnson, that as a relatively new Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise, engagement with the community, supporting local employment and developing its staff were key elements to the business’s growth.

There was also the opportunity to hear from some of the valued members of staff, including driver/handler Mark Damme, who has recently passed a two-year BTEC level 3 Extended Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering, with distinction, as well as Sam Craft, one of the Aircraft Technicians, who recently embarked upon his Licensed Engineering training course to become a B1 Licensed Aircraft Engineer.

They both shared their career aspirations with the MP and how Affinity is keen to support their professional development.

Affinity was established in 2016 and since then has grown rapidly. With a 150-strong, UK-wide workforce, the business places a strong emphasis on encouraging and developing employee skills and supporting its team with various training opportunities; from apprenticeships to qualified engineers, ‘Zero to Hero’ and professional courses.

From left - Alex Davison, Affinity Business Operations Director; Affinity Managing Director Iain Chalmers and Dr Caroline Johnson MP. Photo: Affinity Flying Training Services May 2021. EMN-210528-172410001

Affinity also has close ties with the Jon Egging Trust (the charity founded after the death of Red Arrow pilot Jon Egging) and is passionate in supporting youngsters on their career journeys. The business is also part of The Education Business Partnership Lincoln Imp Trail and is taking part this summer by supporting the William Alvey Primary School in Sleaford, whose pupils are designing an aircraft themed Imp.

Dr Johnson commented: “To see what Affinity is bringing to my local constituency was fantastic. Their passion for supporting the local community is great to see and their support of the MFTS Programme is paving the way for future aircrews to progress successfully through their training and careers. I’d like to thank Iain and the team for taking the time to show me how they operate.”

Mr Chalmers commented: “To allow our local MP an insight into what we do here in Lincolnshire is crucial as it not only demonstrates how we are passionate about supporting employment and engaging with our community, but also how we carry out our operations on a daily basis and how we are dedicated to our values – people, partnership, performance and safety – in everything that we do. I’d like to thank Dr Johnson for taking the time to visit our operations today.”