What is Handling Squadron?

Handling Squadron is a tri-Service unit that is responsible for providing, through the medium of Aircrew Manuals (AMs) and Flight Reference Cards (FRCs), the normal and emergency aircrew procedures for the majority of aircraft in all 3 services and for their associated performance data via Operating Data Manuals (ODM) or equivalent. It is also responsible for advising all 3 Services, through ACOS (CSAv), A Avn Stds and ACAS respectively, on the policy for aircrew publications. The Squadron is located at Boscombe Down and is administered and funded by HQ Air Command. Although located at Boscombe Down, the Squadron is separate from QinetiQ and is a totally vote-funded MOD unit.

Who works at Handling Squadron?

The Squadron is manned by a mixture of serving and retired officers from all 3 Services, who bring together a wide variety of experience across many aircraft types and roles. Civilians provide additional Subject Matter Expert (SME) advice for performance information. For each aircraft type the Squadron staff liaise closely with the type User Authenticator (UA), usually the CFS Agent or Standards and Evaluation Officer, who acts as the Squadron's front line representative and adviser.

What are Handling Squadron's main tasks?

Day-to-day, the Squadron works by supporting the aircraft Project Teams (PTs), providing an independent expert contribution to the tendering, contracting and review process for new aircraft programmes and coordinating the editorial, printing and publication process for the ongoing maintenance and updating of the AMs, FRCs and ODMs for in-Service types.

The relationship between Handling Squadron and each of the 20+ air platform PTs is governed by a series of bespoke Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that detail exactly what services the Squadron provides to the PT and, equally, what information the IPT must provide to the Squadron to enable it to discharge its responsibilities.

What else does Handling Squadron do?

Apart from the AMs and FRCs, the Squadron is also responsible for the maintenance of Flight Test Schedules (FTS) and, if appropriate to the aircraft type, Aircrew Landaway Flight Servicing Schedules (ALFSS), Mission Operating Procedure cards (MOPs), Minimum Equipment Lists (MELs) and Pilot's Notes (PNs). The Squadron also publishes an Aircrew Publications Amendment Status, updated each month, that provides a definitive reference for the amendment state of all extant aircrew publications, from Swordfish and Lancaster to Typhoon and Apache.

How does Handling Squadron write the publications?

The Squadron receives the information that enables it to produce and amend the aircrew publications from a variety of sources, including the Design Organisations (DOs), PTs, trials organizations such as QinetiQ or Operational Evaluation Units (OEUs) and front line users. It also receives draft copies of all modification leaflets, whether for DO or Service Modifications, for comment and action if necessary. A fundamental principle for all material published by the Squadron is that all information is subject to a process of formal engineering validation by the DO and then practical verification by the UA, in addition all performance information is subject to independent scrutiny. The Squadron is also charged with ensuring that all aircrew publications reflect the current 'as flown' configurations as cleared in the Release to Service (RTS) and are fit for purpose, ie are clear and unambiguous for the average front line aircrew.