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Aircraft Frequently Asked Questions

Royal International Air Tattoo
Royal International Air Tattoo
Royal International Air Tattoo
Royal International Air Tattoo



What aircraft will be at the Air Tattoo?

Aircraft are only added to our participation list when we have written confirmation of their attendance. We start updating this in February each year. You can view aircraft confirmed on the aircraft participation page. This is updated regularly once we have started to receive confirmations. Due to reasons outside our control, a number of aircraft displays may appear on different days for reasons such as display team commitments. 


Why do some aircraft only display on one day?

We would like nothing better than to stage every flying spectacle, especially the set pieces, on every day but sadly that is not always possible. We are conscious of not wanting to disappoint people who have bought for specific days so, where we do have a chance to influence this, we do try and balance things out if we can. However, this is not always possible. When it comes to participating aircraft, we are often led by the requirements of the operator - and even factors like poor weather on the day can affect what we can put on due to different display heights etc.

We are sensitive to the fact that some people might feel disappointed that they are missing out on a particular day's entertainment but the reality is that these days, unless a person attends throughout, they are inevitably going to miss a specific display or flypast.  We are grateful of all those that send aircraft to participate in the flying and static displays at the Air Tattoo and hope that they will continue to support the show and therefore the work of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, our parent charity.   

Are drones permitted near RAF Fairford?
Absolutely not. It is illegal to operate drones in the vicinity of an airfield. Flying a drone around RAF Fairford constitutes a criminal offence. On-site, 24 hours a day, at the Air Tattoo are Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Constabularies, the Ministry of Defence Police and the Royal Air Force Police. All of these agencies can be called upon to respond to reports of drone activity. 

The Civil Aviation Authority will established a Restriction of Flying Regulations under Article 239 of the Air Navigation Order at and in the vicinity of RAF Fairford. A Restricted Airspace (Temporary) will be established during the event.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority's Drone Safe helps you understand how to safely operate them. Find out more details on the Drone Code here:
What's the difference in the show days?

Friday is our preview day and will feature a flying display of at least 4 hours and part of the showground (Green) will not be open as there will still be some aircraft arriving for the static display and these will be sited in this area.

Saturday & Sunday - each year it is our ambition that wherever possible, the flying display for both Saturday and Sunday has the same participants however, situations do arise when set pieces or display acts can only perform on one or two out of the three days. This is due to a number of reasons such as the availability of airframes, a crew's flying hours, cost or other commitments elsewhere. 

We would like nothing better than to stage every flying spectacle, especially the set pieces, on every day but sadly that is not always possible. We are conscious of not wanting to disappoint people who have bought for specific days so, where we do have a chance to influence timings, we do try and balance things out if we can. 

We recognise that some visitors may be disappointed, however, our view is that a one day display is better than no days. The Air Tattoo is grateful to all participants for taking part in the Air Tattoo and, on the occasions they cannot perform on all three days, we believe our visitors would prefer one display/flypast rather than none.
What is the policy for inviting countries and their air arms?

We work with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to agree on the list of countries we wish to invite - and it's a long one! We write to the Chief of each air arm, inviting him/her and their aircraft to the Air Tattoo. We also send a copy of the invitation to their attachés at their Embassies in London and have a programme of visiting these in the Autumn prior to the following years' show. Finally, we follow up with letters to individual squadrons and tasking offices in each country.

How often is the aircraft participation list updated?

Once we start receiving aircraft confirmations, usually a few months prior to the event,  the aircraft participation list will be updated weekly, on a Thursday at midday. There is more about the release of aircraft information in the FAQ above.

How is it decided if an aircraft will be in the flying display or the static park?

We request specific aircraft types for both the flying and static displays and if we get a favourable response, the operator generally decides whether they will fly or be part of the static display. As you would expect we work pretty hard, to entice the 'very special' aircraft to fly, but cannot always guarantee success.

How do air arms determine if they will attend the Air Tattoo?
The general rule is that Operations and Training come first - if there are flying hours and a budget available, then they may choose to use them for airshows. Most air forces will have a tasking office that collates all requests and then allocate aircraft to the shows that offer most value/benefit to them. These decisions are usually made between January and April, which is why some aircraft are confirmed later than others. And although it may be tempting, it is counterproductive for any individual to try and circumvent this system and contact them directly - these offices do not take kindly to it, so please be patient. 

Due to reasons outside our control, a number of aircraft displays will appear on different days for reasons such as display team commitments. 

When is the running order for the flying display put together?

The flying display running order planning starts in May but will change weekly due to the additions, cancellations and the changing requirements of participants. It is not properly finalised until the week of the show and even then it can change, for technical, weather and/or pilot health reasons.

What is the policy on rescheduling flying acts in the event of disruption to the planned flying schedule?

Our policy is not to reschedule. If the weather or an incident affects any part of the flying display programme, then unfortunately, those scheduled to fly during the period in question will lose their slots. We believe this is the fairest policy to all the crews who have generously travelled from all around the world to take part in the Air Tattoo.

Why do aircraft not use their flares in their display at the Air Tattoo?

Sadly, given the configuration of RAF Fairford during RIAT, we have not been able to identify any location for parking armed aircraft that will satisfy the stringent MOD regulations covering explosive materials. This is not for the lack of trying!

Why do aircraft on the participation list sometimes cancel?

There are numerous reasons why aircraft cancel, but operational commitments, higher priority tasking, technical issues and budget restrictions are the most frequent. When we receive notification of a cancellation we always go back to the operator to see if there is anything we can do to reverse the decision. Please be assured that we don't just take no for an answer!

If an aircraft cancels, does this free up money for another aircraft to be brought in?

Generally no, as the majority of military participants attend at their own expense, knowing the charitable purpose of our parent charity - the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust. However, in exceptional circumstances where we are contributing financially, then we do look to source a replacement. Of course, the closer to the show it is, the more difficult this becomes, but we never stop trying and in the past, deals have been struck with only two days to go - for both military and civilian aircraft!

Can I fly into the Air Tattoo?

As you are no doubt aware, the airfield will be incredibly busy over the period of the event with arrival and departure slots, and indeed dispersal space, at an absolute premium. For this reason, we will need to limit aircraft visiting on a daily basis to only those operated by:

  • Display Sponsors
  • VIP's - military or civilian


Tell me more about your approach to safety?

All flying during the Air Tattoo is undertaken in accordance with UK MOD flying regulations and all display flying is overseen by a highly experienced Flying Display Director, supported by a Flying Control Committee all with extensive flying display experience from the Air Tattoo and elsewhere. The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises is an active member of the British Air Display Association and European Airshow Council and is compliant with all UK regulatory requirements in respect of the organisation and management of public airshows. Safety is very much our number one priority and many of the safety measures we have in place are held up as the standard among other UK airshow operators. We collect very detailed data on where the aircraft fly and at what height and so we know that the flying activities at the airshow are in accordance with the existing flying regulations.

Can I bring an airband radio/scanner?
Yes - you are allowed to bring a receiving only airband radio into the event to listen to air traffic control communications. We do not, however, publish a list of frequencies. 
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