CAA revises procedure to review airspace

The CAA has published a new procedure to review the classification of airspace in a move to become more transparent following criticism from, among others, FLYER, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation and the British Gliding Association.

The classification determines the flight rules that apply in a particular volume of airspace and the procedures that must be followed. The full procedure is CAP 1991 and there’s also a summary, CAP 1991a.

It follows a public consultation which closed on 17 September. The CAA says that the changes made as a result are explained in a consultation response document CAP 1990.

The three stages of the new procedure:

  1. Consider, in which the CAA commits to carrying out a review of airspace classifications every two years, with the possibility to defer the review by up to one year.
  2. Review, in which the CAA uses appropriate intelligence, including continuous monitoring of airspace safety, access or utilisation issues, to draw up a plan that lists airspace volumes where a case could be made for a proposed amendment to the classification, and a proposed schedule for when the CAA will address them. The CAA will consult organisations in the Airspace Modernisation Strategy governance structure that represent airspace users in order to draw up a refined plan.
  3. Amend, in which, for each airspace volume identified, the CAA further develops a formal proposal for amending the classification, with essential input from the designated controlling authority for the airspace concerned, and then consults those impacted by the final proposals.

Later this month (December 2020) the CAA expects to announce the first volumes of airspace where it will be considering potential amendments to the classification, chosen from those highlighted in a review launched in December 2019.

Whether this will include the highly contentious airspace around Farnborough Airport remains to be seen. Farnborough’s controlled airspace, imposed in February 2020, is over-large and complicated in many pilots’ eyes and has generated large numbers of infringements.

A new CAA team dedicated to the review of airspace classification will run the new procedure and start work on those volumes in January 2021. Queries can be sent to: airspace.classification@caa.co.uk

CAA how airspace works

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