City Airport & Heliport

For other City Airports, see City Airport.
City Airport & Heliport
Salford/Barton Aerodrome
Airport type Public
Owner Manchester Ship Canal Developments
Operator City Airport Ltd
Serves Manchester/Salford
Location Barton-upon-Irwell, Eccles
Elevation AMSL 73 ft / 22 m
Coordinates 53°28′18″N 002°23′23″W / 53.47167°N 2.38972°W / 53.47167; -2.38972Coordinates: 53°28′18″N 002°23′23″W / 53.47167°N 2.38972°W / 53.47167; -2.38972

Location in Greater Manchester

Direction Length Surface
m ft
08R/26L 625 2,051 Grass
08L/26R 522 1,713 Grass
02/20 533 1,749 Grass
14/32 398 1,306 Grass
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]

City Airport (ICAO: EGCB) is a general aviation airport in the Barton-upon-Irwell area of Eccles, in the City of Salford, Greater Manchester, England. Formerly known as Barton Aerodrome and City Airport Manchester, it is known by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as Manchester/Barton.

It is situated 5 nautical miles (9.3 km; 5.8 mi) west of Manchester and was the United Kingdom's first purpose-built municipal airport. Featuring four grass runways, it is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the UK. The airfield operates seven days a week, from 9 am (8.15am winter) until 8pm or sunset (whichever earlier) for fixed-wing aircraft. Commercial, private, military, police and air ambulance helicopters can operate during the hours of darkness by arrangement, as the airfield can be equipped with portable runway lighting.

The airport is also used as a refuelling stop for light aircraft and helicopters. However, it lies on the edge of Chat Moss and the aircraft movements area suffers from occasional periods of waterlogging, restricting fixed wing operations at those times. Recent works to improve drainage on the airfield have seen some success in reducing the number of closures.

Manchester Barton Aerodrome has a CAA Ordinary Licence (Number P886) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee (City Airport Limited). The aerodrome is not licensed for night use.[2]


A 2015 view of the main hangar which was completed during January 1930
City of Manchester coat of arms on the southern gable of the 1930-built hangar
1951 view of Barton Aerodrome's 1930s buildings including the Airport Hotel and farm buildings converted for passenger use. Also wartime temporary structures, now demolished
A light aircraft prepares to depart from Barton with the 1932-built control tower at right and a postwar hangar at left
An aircraft parking area at City Airport in front of the control tower

City Airport has changed little since its opening, and is considered a good example of the airfields of the 1930s. There are several historical items of note at Barton. The control tower is protected by its grade II listed building status, along with the original terminal building and hangar.[13]

The airfield is regularly used as a setting for films and TV programmes, amongst them "Brass" (where Barton masqueraded as Croydon Airport), Mersey Beat, GBH and Island at War. The distinctive control tower often features prominently in the making of such programmes and films.[14]

Use of City Airport by heavier aircraft is hampered by the soft peaty nature of the area, being at the edge of Chat Moss, and by the low-lying land and areas of nearby standing water encouraging fog. It would have needed much heavy work consolidating the ground (compare the struggle building the Liverpool and Manchester Railway across Chat Moss in 1826). During 2010–11, additional drainage was added to improve surface water draining, due to the original clay pipes deteriorating and no longer functioning.

Emergency services air support

Both the Greater Manchester Police Air Support Unit and the North West Air Ambulance base a helicopter at the airfield. The Police Air Support Unit is active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

North West Air Ambulance is a registered charity providing a regional medical air emergency service covering Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside and Cumbria. The NWAA has one EC135 helicopter based primarily to serve Greater Manchester, South Lancashire, Cheshire and Merseyside, a second helicopter will also be based from late 2013.

City Heliport

In 2011, the airport opened its new 'City Heliport' facility, aimed at the commercial helicopter charter market, expanding and complementing the existing services provided at the Airport. The heliport features a dedicated jet A1 fuel facility, conference room, small office units and a dedicated passenger lounge. City Heliport (which is not licensed) can accept helicopters during the hours of darkness by arrangement. This facility is used particularly during football matches at nearby Old Trafford, (Manchester United) and City of Manchester Stadium (Manchester City). The airport is also an operating base for the North West Air Ambulance, and the Greater Manchester Police Helicopter also uses the Airport 24 hrs, using portable lighting which is placed on the runway during hours of darkness.

Rescue and fire fighting

City Airport operates a Category 1 Rescue and Fire Fighting service with a Landrover Defender 130 fire tender (purchased 2011, supplied by Sidhean Teo) equipped to CAA Category 2 standard, and a Toyota Hilux Double Cab as a fire tender equipped with 80 imp gal (360 L; 96 US gal) of foam/water mix.


In recent years, City Airport has re-commenced an annual 'Aviation Family Fun Day and Aircraft Fly-In' Event, raising money for charity and with an increasing growth in attendance. The event is featured on its own website City Airport also began to host an annual Fireworks Spectacular event starting in 2013.

Following on from the success of the annual Family Fun Day, the Airport has brought back The Manchester Airshow, the only full Airshow in the Greater Manchester area.



  1. Manchester/Barton – EGCB
  2. Civil Aviation Authority Aerodrome Ordinary Licences Archived 28 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. Scholefield (2004), pp. 222–223
  4. Scholefield (2004), pp. 220–224
  5. Scholefield (2004), p. 224
  6. Stroud (1987), p. 38
  7. Scholefield (2004), p. 226
  8. 1 2 Scholefield (2004), p. 227
  9. Maher (1992), p. 41
  10. "Air show fears after plane crash horror". Leigh Journal. 22 July 1996. Retrieved 30 December 2009.
  11. 1 2 []
  12. Scholefield (2004), p. 229
  13. Neal Keeling (23 May 2003). "Barton Airport gets makes the grade". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved on 28 August 2008.


  • Scholefield, R. A. (2004), "Manchester's early airfields: establishment, development and operations", an extensive article in "Moving Manchester", Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society, ISSN 0950-4699 
  • Stroud, John (1987), Railway Air Services, Ian Allan, ISBN 0-7110-1743-3 
  • Maher, Peter (1992), The Lancashire Aero Club: Three Score Years and Ten, Lancashire Aero Club, ISBN 0-9524099-0-9 
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