AOPA UK

    Introduction of an Emergency General Aviation Report (GAR) Telephone Line (0845 723 1110)

From 1 March 2015, we are pleased to announce the launch of an Emergency General Aviation Report (GAR) Telephone Line for General Aviation (GA) pilots, operators and owners. If you need to submit or amend a GAR for Border Force purposes in an emergency situation, you may call the GAR Emergency Telephone Line on +44 (0) 845 723 1110.

The emergency telephone line may only be used for a flight that is:

  • not required to report to the police under the Terrorism Act 2000; and
  • outside the GAR reporting timescales.

An emergency may be described as:

  • medical emergency of a pilot/passenger; or
  • air ambulance with critical passenger; or
  • other emergencies requiring a change to information contained within an already submitted GAR; or
  • last minute changes to a submitted GAR, only when changes to online version are not possible.

You are required to complete a GAR prior to your departure. For information about this process please see the link below.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/general-aviation-operators-and-pilots-notification-of-flights

This telephone line is strictly only for the purposes listed above. For all other GA enquiries please visit our online information:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/general-aviation


Home Office Strategic Communications  

 

SERA - Summary of Changes.

The Standardised European Rules of the Air (commonly referred to as SERA) took effect across Europe on 4 December 2014 and in the UK superseded most (but not all) of the UK Rules of the Air
Regulations 2007.  Full details of the rule and the associated changes are contained in the CAA’s SERA web pages.

SERA is based on the same International standards as the UK Rules of the Air so in most respects they are identical.  However, there are a number of differences to what aviators in the UK are
accustomed to and these are summarised below.

SERA is slightly different to other European Regulations because it applies to all aircraft in European airspace (not just 'EASA aircraft').  Also, SERA does not address all of the areas that UK Rules of the
Air historically have (for example, certain aircraft lighting requirements) and in some cases it requires States to write their own 'enabling' measures  to allow some activities to take place (for
example, VFR at night).   It also allows for the retention of provisions that were already in place before SERA took effect, as long as these comply with and supplement SERA.  The result is that the
UK has retained a small number of domestic Rules of the Air and issued a number of General Permissions and General Exemptions.  These can be found through the CAA’s SERA web pages.

Key changes

1. Visual Meteorological conditions

SERA requires aircraft flying VFR in controlled airspace to remain 1500m horizontally and 1000ft vertically from cloud and in a flight visibility of at least 5km at all times.

The CAA is temporarily allowing aircraft flying VFR within Class C, D and E below 3000ft AMSL by day at 140kts or less to continue to apply the 'clear of cloud and with the surface in sight' minima as they have always done. This temporary arrangement currently lasts until 4 August 2015, and a permanent arrangement has yet to be finalised.  The CAA will keep industry informed of progress with this.

2. Cruising levels

The quadrantal cruising levels system historically used in the UK does not exist in SERA. Instead, the semi-circular cruising level system applied throughout the rest of the world is used.  To aid transition
to the new system, this will now take effect in the UK on 2 April 2015.

3. Minimum Heights By Day

Although SERA changes the minimum height to a blanket 500ft above the surface, the CAA has used the flexibility provided in SERA to allow aircraft in the UK to fly below 500ft provided they are 500ft
away from persons, vessels, vehicles and structures – in other words no change from the UK’s former '500ft Rule' that people flying in the UK are used to applying.  The CAA has also granted
generic permissions to allow for all the long-standing exceptions to the old rule 5 that were contained in rule 6 – i.e. gliders hill-soaring, aircraft picking-up and dropping articles at aerodromes,
practising forced landings and flying displays/air races/contests, to continue unaffected.  Otherwise 1000ft is the minimum height over cities, towns or settlements or over an open-air assembly of
persons above the highest obstacle within a radius of 600 m from the aircraft.

4. VFR at night

Aircraft have been able to fly under VFR at night since June 2012. SERA introduced a small number of additional requirements for aircraft flying at night. These are:

  • If the aircraft leaves the vicinity of an aerodrome a flight plan must be filed.   This can either be a ‘paper’ plan, an AFPEX plan or an abbreviated plan (‘booking out’).
  • The cloud ceiling must be at least 1,500ft AMSL;
  • The flight visibility must be at least 5km, or 3km for helicopters;
  • When flying at 3,000ft AMSL or below, the surface must be in sight at all times; and
  • The night VFR minimum height requirements are more stringent than the day requirements. Aircraft are to be flown at least 1000ft above the highest fixed obstacle within 8km of the aircraft, or 2000 ft when flying over high or mountainous terrain. 

5. Special VFR (SVFR)

SERA introduced a speed limit of 140kts to aircraft flying under an SVFR clearance. The weather minima is now:

  • Remain clear of cloud and with the surface in sight
  • Maintain a flight visibility of 1500m, or 800m for helicopters

6. Rights of way on the ground

Rules on overtaking and giving way are now less specific. Aircraft and vehicles overtaking other aircraft and vehicles can now pass on either the left or the right.

7. The Right Hand Rule

The UK rule which required aircraft to be flown along the right hand side of line features ceases to be a legal requirement.  However, it is still considered to be good practice as a means avoiding
collisions with aircraft coming the other way, and so is strongly recommended.

SERA does not makes any changes to pilot licenses or their conditions and limitations. Some licences include limitations such as visibility minima which may be greater than the minimum specified in the
Visual Flight Rules.  Therefore pilots are recommended to remind themselves of the applicable minima for their licence (you can find this on the personnel licensing pages of the CAA website).


Dave Drake
CAA Project Lead for SERA 

Airfield Planning Issues.

The past three months have seen over thirty requests for assistance from owners, operators and supporters of flying sites. This reflects the continuing trend of airfield pressures, both from economic and housing threats which made up 10 of the queries and from inappropriate developments such as wind turbines in the immediate vicinity of flying sites, 8 enquiries. There has been good news too, Sandown airfield appears to be prospering under the custodianship of the local aero club, who are in the process of community fund raising to buy the airfield, Blackpool, which closed in October, re-opened in December for GA and helicopter operations under new management and the former RAF Church Fenton reopened at the start of 2015 as a civilian airfield.

The GAAC role in these cases has been to provide objective responses to those seeking to keep airfields open, while attempting to advise local planning officers both of the importance of GA airfield as a part of their local business, transport and economic infrastructure, and the recognition of this in the National Planning Policy Framework. In addition the GAAC is also actively driving the importance of leisure aviation as a resource and advocating local airfields’ role in providing accessible and sustainable flying training.

Planning Protection

One of the reasons for this increase in activity has been the recent Government response to the Red Tape Challenge in terms of recognition of the importance of the GA industry and to recent GAAC comments on the need for sustaining a reasonable infrastructure of airfields to support it. While the Government have continuing wish to devolve decision making to Local Planning Authorities, they have asked our advice in supporting the protection of small and medium-sized airfields and in briefing planning authorities.

One of the first results of these initiatives has been the Airfield Safeguarding Advice document, drawn up by Richard Vousden and distributed electronically to around 320 Local Planning Officers. Through monitoring of these e-mails we have been able to ascertain that of these, around 210 were received and read by the recipients.

Airfields

Sadly, it is inevitable that Hucknall airfield is destined for history, as the entire site will be turned over to a local authority housing partnership at the end of February. However we have continued (supported by Grant Shapps MP) to seek means by which Panshanger might be kept alive.

One initiative discussed with Welwyn and Hatfield Council at a meeting on 3rd February is to evaluate a re-alignment of runway which will allow airfield operations to continue while at the same time, allowing some land to be released to meet housing demands. The proposal is being further discussed with site owners Mariposa Developments, but in the meantime we have prepared a comprehensive support document for continued operation of the airfield as a local amenity, for submission as part of the Local Plan Consultation, which is open till 19th March.

It is noteworthy that a similar proposal has been advocated by the owners of Old Sarum airfield who wish to use land at three locations on the perimeter of the airfield for housing, but retain aviation activities and upgrade facilities. The plans are however being resisted by a local "Save Old Sarum" action group who claim the proposed developments will alter the character of location and that noise complaints would ultimately lead to airfield closure.

At Manston, while much of the infrastructure and resources have been sold and the site has been acquired by a 'regeneration company’ for other land uses, it is noted that a further submission has been made by Riveroak Developments to acquire the site and reopen it as a freight hub.

At Wellesbourne, an attempt by the owners of the airfield site to force inclusion of their ‘Scoping Consultation’ in Stratford District Council’s core housing strategy was successfully overturned by lawyers acting for the Wellesbourne Matters, pro-airfield action group. The GAAC has been working with Wellesbourne Matters to create a document highlighting factual errors in the developers’ research, with a view to overturning it again when it is presented as part of their change of use planning submission.

At Wycombe the GAAC is continuing to monitor attempts by Wycombe District Council to ‘claw back’ around 30 acres of land on the south side of the aerodrome, by rejecting the renewal of the existing airfield lease, which was taken over by Heli-Air. The major effect on aviation activities if this were to go ahead would be the loss of the airfield’s N/S runway and the end of gliding operations by  Booker Gliding Club.

Planning approval has been given by Chatham and Rochester Councils for the redevelopment of Rochester Airport with a lit tarmac and parallel grass runway, new hangars and admin buildings, as part of a 25-year plan. There is a further delay however as one small part of land is under the jurisdiction of Tonbridge Council which has yet to give similar approval.

Recent headlines have been grabbed by Liberal Democrats in Gloucestershire who have given support to a proposal by the Commercial Estates Group (CEG) in Cotswold District Council’s draft local plan consultation that could see up to 2000 homes built on the airfield. A robust GAAC response is being prepared for the consultation, but this is being seen as something of a speculative effort. CEG do not own the airfield, and there has been no sign that the airport owners wish to sell it.

Two less usual areas of airfield assistance have been offered. One, in the case of South Moor Farm at Langdale near Scarborough has included letters of support for planning permission for a new flying site. We have however also advised the site owner that as the location is in a sensitive area (the NY Moors National Park); he needs a particularly robust planning and environmental case in order to be successful.

An unusual threat arose to continued operations from the strip at Brimpton in Berkshire, which despite having operated for over 30 years alongside the Atomic Weapons Establishment was suddenly required by the CAA, under new security regulations, to inform AWE security ahead of every aircraft movement. This is both impossible and most emphatically not wanted by AWE Security! After discussion, we have advised that an agreed protocol with AWE should be forwarded to the CAA for their agreement.

Wind Turbines

Following the refusal of initial planning applications for the large wind turbine development at Bullington Cross which threatens operations at Lasham and Popham by three local council planning committees, the applications have moved as expected, to appeal. The GAAC has also offered all three councils’ assistance in preparing supporting submissions on behalf of the GA Community and has ensured our initial grounds for objection have been relayed to the Planning Inspectorate.

In addition, the GAAC has been required to object on safety grounds to a further seven inappropriate wind turbine development proposals in the immediate vicinity of both ‘farm strip’ flying sites and larger more active light aircraft airfields. In three of these cases, planning permission was refused by the local planning authority, but has subsequently been appealed by the developer.

In these cases, while our initial evidence will be used at the resulting enquiry, further requests for information, supporting letters and the rebuttal of inaccurate claims by so-called ‘aviation consultants’ are adding significantly to workload.  It is also noteworthy that in a significant number of cases unscrupulous developers have clearly ignored visible and long-established flying sites, hoping to hoodwink or force through an application without carrying out an appropriate risk analysis or contacting the flying site operator. In each case we have reminded the LPA that the development is in breach of CAA advice and if allowed they place the local authority in a potential position of liability if a resulting incident were to occur.

Industry Co-operation

In addition, the GAAC are continuing to work with the industry to try to both develop mitigation and awareness of the specific needs of and risks to General Aviation. In addition to our work with the Air Space Initiative Wind Farm Working Group (ASIWWG), in November for the first time, we addressed the Renewable UK national conference, presenting the case for General Aviation as a specific category with different requirements to Commercial Air Transport.

In addition we are working with both Renewable UK and the CAA to identify further means of enhancing conspicuity of anemometer masts. While we have no statutory capability, the CAA asked the GAAC to provide advice to planning officers in a joint initiative and in addition to the use of ‘spherical orange markers’ such as used on high-voltage power cables, and reflective bird flight deflectors, we are also looking at areas such as lighting, brightly coloured ground matting, high-visibility sheathes on the lower guide wires or the painting of the top of masts, to achieve reasonable visual recognition at about 1km

Significant Areas for Sport
Work continues on the future classification by Sport England of flying sites as Significant Areas for Sport (SASP), based on sport flying and competition aerobatic activities, giving additional planning protection. Currently around 15 sites have been identified for consideration by Sport England.

However some of these sites have requested a delay while the land owners are consulted as there are clearly implications for future sale of land in the future. An aerodrome owners’ questionnaire has been circulated for each site but due to the high workload on other projects, this has not moved forward as rapidly as hoped.
 
Stephen Slater.
February 2015

NOTE: The General Aviation Awareness Council (GAAC) is the most representative UK body in General Aviation and is recognised as such by Government, the CAA and others to be the organisation that speaks for General Aviation on planning and environmental issues and we intend to widen our ‘awareness’ campaign to other issues where there is consensus. AOPA UK strongly supports the work of the GAAC and gives substantial annual donations to it. Find out more about the GAAC here.

Caution if overflying disused Airfields.

An RAF training plane had to take evasive action when it ventured in to airspace used by a Cambridgeshire model flying club last year.

A UK Airprox Board report labelled the incident "high severity" after the trainer flew within 40ft (12m) of a remote-controlled model aircraft.

The near-miss happened 600ft (180m) above the village of Northborough near Peterborough.

The board said the "safety of the aircraft may have been compromised".

The report said the planes were flying on 4 February 2014 in airspace permitted for use by a local model aircraft flying club.

The model's operator thought his plane was flying at up to 150ft (45m), but the trainer, from RAF Wyton near Huntingdon, confirmed it had been flying above it at one point at 600ft.

The Airprox Board report concluded "safety margins had been much reduced". The board suggested because nearby RAF Wittering had changed to a non-flying base users of the airspace had become less aware of dangers.

It said all operators in the area needed to be alert to each other's activities. RAF Wittering has since returned to flying status.

Cardiff International Airport joins Strasser Scheme

In a Valentine’s day present to General Aviation, Debra Barber, the recently appointed Managing Director of Cardiff Airport, has added Cardiff International Airport to the list of airports in the AOPA “Strasser Scheme”.

This is  great news for General Aviation to celebrate, as all public UK and Channel Islands Airports which were asked to join the AOPA “Strasser Scheme” have now done so with the exceptions of Bournemouth, London Luton, Lydd and Manchester. Only these 4 are refusing to join this potentially life saving CAA recommended scheme.

In 1997 the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) published a review of General Aviation Fatal accidents 1985 to 1994 under the title CAP 667. Of particular interest to GA pilot Charles Strasser when reading this, was paragraph 9.2(c), which stated:

“There were a number of fatal accidents where a timely diversion or precautionary landing could have avoided an accident. In the UK there is a ‘culture’ of pressing on and hoping for the best rather accepting the inconvenience and cost of a diversion. This ‘culture’ needs to be changed, firstly by educating pilots and secondly by persuading Aerodrome owners that there should be no charge for emergency landings or diversions. It is recommended that all Aerodrome owners be persuaded to adopt a policy that there should be no charges for emergency landings or diversions by general aviation aircraft.”

Since neither the CAA nor the GASCO (General Aviation Safety Council) acted to get this important potential life saving recommendation implemented, Charles Strasser, the then Chairman of the AOPA CI Region, decided in 1998 to accept this challenge. It has taken him 16 years to get all present 206 UK Civil and Military airfields, excepting only Bournemouth, London-Luton, Lydd and Manchester, to participate and waive fees for genuine emergency and precautionary weather diversions. (London Heathrow, Gatwick and City were not asked).

The “Strasser Scheme” has undoubtedly prevented GA pilots from “pressing on” and instead make the right decision to land at the nearest airfield.
For full details of the AOPA Strasser Scheme and the current list of Airfields in the scheme see here.

There are some misunderstandings and to preserve the integrity of the scheme, this 16th anniversary is a perfect opportunity to remind GA pilots of the importance not to abuse the concession granted by airport owners in the interests of safety. The CAA recommendation starts off “This ‘culture’ needs to be changed, firstly by educating pilots…...  This means that pre-flight planning, including route, destination and alternate weather information must be undertaken. Landings at predetermined alternates, whether filed or not, are clearly not “precautionary diversion landings”.

Landings to drop off passengers or pick up fuel, similarly do not qualify.

 

 


 

iaopalogocolor

Welcome to the February 2015 Enews of IAOPA Europe, which goes out to 23,000 aircraft owners and pilots in 27 countries across the continent.

Newsletter now available on the IAOPA EU website

Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA)

The UK implementation of significant elements of the European Union’s Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA) has been delayed. As a result, there will be no changes to the UK Rules of the Air stemming from SERA that will impact UK pilots. The changes to be introduced on 4 December 2014 resulting from SERA will only be those that replicate existing UK rules.

SERA will replace most, but not all, of the UK Rules of the Air Regulations and there will be a small number of significant changes to UK rules that pilots, air traffic controllers, aerodrome operators and anyone else involved in the operation of aircraft need to be aware of. These include key changes to:

  • Visual Meteorological Conditions
  • Cruising Levels
  • VFR at night
  • Special VFR
  • Rights of way on the ground

None of the changes to flight rules or weather mimima overrule the limitations and privileges of pilot licences. Therefore it is important for pilots to understand the applicable minima for their licence.

Legislative changes

SERA will apply to every aircraft operating in EU airspace regardless of type or state of registration. But as the rules will not cover all aspects of the Rules of the Air, Member States may keep supplementary rules that complement SERA. They may also permit routine operations such as VFR flight at night, and grant exemptions from SERA’s requirements.

As explained in the our implementation consultation, the UK will keep a small number of supplementary rules taken from the current Rules of the Air Regulations 2007. These will be supported by permissions and general exemptions derived from the current Rules to preserve operational flexibilities to the greatest possible degree. The Permissions and Exemptions can be found here.

The Rules of the Air Regulations 2007 will be replaced by The Rules of the Air Regulations 2015 early in 2015. Pending that change it will be necessary to continue to apply a number of the ‘2007 Rules’; these ‘retained rules’ can be found here.

Note that the final wording of the ‘2015 Rules’ may be subject to refinement, in which case the table will be updated.

Finally, a small number of changes to the Air Navigation Order are being made to ensure it remains aligned with SERA. A summary of the planned ANO changes is available here, while a summary of the planned successor to the Rules of the Air Regulations 2007 plus related Permissions and Exemptions can be found here. These will be updated to reflect changes to legislation as these come into force.

Update to the UK SSR Code Allocation Plan -

The CAA have published Information Notice IN-2001/004 which details updates to the UK SSR Allocation Plan (Chapter 2.6 of the UK AIP EN1..6). These changes have been submitted under AIRAC 04/2015 (distributed 19 February 2015, effective 2 April 2015).

Under the CAA Airspace Charter, CAA Infrastructure Staff (previously Surveillance and Spectrum) are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the UK SSR Code Allocation Plan. Following a recent review, conducted with the assistance of Eurocontrol, the Allocation Plan has been updated to reflect the current Eurocontrol Code Allocation of local codes to the UK, together with corrections to reflect Code Allocations to other states.

In addition, there have been a number of other relatively minor changes as follows:

a) The block of codes held by the CAA for allocation to Special Events has been moved from the code block 4701-4737 to 6001–6037 in order to improve the efficiency of code usage within CCAMS.
b) UK local SSR Codes allocated to NATS as CCAMS redundancy have now been broken out within the Allocation Plan and an explanatory paragraph added.
c) The omission of the Farnborough Frequency monitoring Code from Section 2.2.5 has been rectified.
d) References to CAOC Finderup have been replaced by CAOC Uedem.

Duxford event to launch Government GA Strategy

The next stage of the Government’s plans for General Aviation (GA) will be unveiled on Saturday 28th March 2015 when the Government’s strategy for GA is made public at a joint Government / Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) event at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, Cambridgeshire.

The Duxford event and unveiling of the Government’s strategy is the latest stage of a programme to fulfil the Government’s aim of making the UK the best country in the world for GA and boosting jobs and growth in the sector.

Key players in the GA world will be speaking including Grant Shapps MP, Minister Without Portfolio; Patrick Ky, EASA Executive Director and; Andrew Haines, CAA Chief Executive.

Specialists from NATS will also be in attendance on the day offering advice on a range of GA airspace safety issues and air traffic control in general.

The event is open to anyone involved in GA and will provide an opportunity to hear an update on the Future Airspace Strategy VFR operations deployment plan and the latest work underway through the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and UK GA programmes.

It also follows a year of considerable progress by the CAA to ensure GA enjoys a safety regulation system that imposes the minimum necessary burden and empowers individuals to make responsible decisions to secure acceptable safety outcomes. The CAA’s latest work with GA can be seen at www.caa.co.uk/ga.

The event will take place from 10.30am to 3pm. If you wish to attend then please RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. including the number of people in your party and if you intend to fly in. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Confirmation of successful registration and further information on the event will be provided nearer the date.

Those registered to attend will also have free access to the Imperial War Museum during the day and reduced landing fees are available for those flying in.

Glasgow Airport Frequency Monitoring SSR Code 2620 -

Following successful implementation in other parts of the country, Glasgow Airport has sought permission from the CAA to utilise a Frequency Monitoring SSR Code. The SSR Code 2620 is
already allocated to Glasgow Airport but the airport has confirmed that it can be assigned as the SSR Frequency Monitoring Code.

The UK Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) will be updated under AIRAC 04/2015 (distributed 19 February 2015, effective 2 April 2015).

The official notcie can be found here.

CAA Update 22 January :

Following their successful implementation in other parts of the country, a ‘listening out squawk’ covering Glasgow Airport is to be implemented, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed today. The squawk will become permanent on 2 April 2015 and will become the twelfth such code in operation in the UK.

The Glasgow listening out squawk code is 2620 and the radio frequency to monitor for Glasgow is 119.1MHz. It is recommended that pilots flying within 40NM of Glasgow Airport use the code.

CAA publishes 60 day update on General Aviation work -

The UK CAA reports that significant progress has been made in 2014 to make regulation of the UK’s General Aviation (GA) sector more proportionate and evidence-based the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said today.

In the first of what will be regular updates to confirm its work in the area the CAA said that in the last 60 days it had:

• Launched proposals to simplify the initial testing process for experimental aircraft in the UK that will benefit small-scale aircraft designers and manufacturers, as well as encouraging the growth of aerospace excellence in new design concepts. Details at www.caa.co.uk/consultations

• Used the new proportionate approach to regulation to grant an approval to a UK microlight manufacturer that has made it financially viable to sell its aircraft as finished factory-built types rather than amateur-build kits. More details here.

• Published its finalised policy framework for GA. This will be used by the CAA as a basis for decisions around GA regulation, providing a transparent process for the GA community and others to follow. It explains how decisions will now be made based on evidence and risk. It can be viewed at www.caa.co.uk/ga

• Scrapped the need for UK validation of design changes for Annex II aircraft via supplementary type certificates approved by a state with which the UK holds a bilateral agreement – such as the US or Canada. Meaning the owner/operator of an aircraft can simply arrange for installation of the modification as per the approval and then get their maintenance organisation to certify its installation in the aircraft’s log-book. More details here.

• Withdrawn the overflight restriction from the permit operating limitations of factory-built, type-approved gyroplanes. Meaning they can be flown over congested areas providing pilots can demonstrate they can manoeuvre their gyroplane clear of a built up area should it suffer a failure preventing continued safe flight, such as an engine failure. More details here.

• Allowed owners of light aircraft to choose which fuel they use, including MOGAS, providing it is approved for their aircraft. Details at www.caa.co.uk/ga

• Published clear guidance on restoring vintage aircraft, available at www.caa.co.uk/ga

All of the changes support the CAA’s new top level principles for GA regulation:

• Only regulate directly when necessary and do so proportionately
• Deregulate where we can
• Delegate where appropriate
• Do not gold-plate, and quickly and efficiently remove gold-plating that already exists
• Help create a vibrant and dynamic GA sector in the UK.

Commenting on the work Grant Shapps, Government Minister Without Portfolio, said: "This is yet another good set of measures that will provide a much-needed boost to GA. They will allow for innovation to be unlocked in the sector, creating exciting new business opportunities that could bring jobs and growth to the UK".

Similar 60 day updates will be published throughout 2015 on 2 March; 1 May; 1 July; 1 Sep; and 2 Nov.

NATS VOR Replacement Programme

NATS currently operates 46 Doppler VHF Omni Range (DVOR) navigation beacons across the UK to provide an en-route navigation service as either stand alone beacons or, more commonly, co-located with Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) beacons. Information Notice IN-2014/199 refers.

The age of these facilities means that either replacement or withdrawal has become necessary. In line with the ECAC-wide (European Civil Aviation Conference) Navigation Strategy and following the extension of the mandate for the carriage of Area Navigation (RNAV) equipment to all levels in controlled airspace, the CAA gave approval in principle for the reduction of the VOR infrastructure from 46 to 19 sites.

The facilities at the sites identified for retention will gradually be replaced with new equipment and each replacement will result in a period of approximately three months when the facility is unavailable for use.

NATS have identified the first VORs to be replaced under this programme and the work started in April 2014. The first three sites are Otringham (OTR), Berry Head (BHD) and Lands End (LND). Each replacement will be subject to an Impact Assessment.

The replacement of OTR commenced on 22 April 2014 and the work was completed at the end of July. However, subsequent problems have delayed the return to service of the facility until 16 December 2014.

The replacement of BHD is scheduled to commence on 7 January 2015 and is planned to be complete by 7 April 2015. The following points have been identified in the relevant Impact Assessment and should be noted by all airspace users:

  • There are a number of promulgated Air Traffic Services (ATS) routes detailed in the UK Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) that are based on the BHD VOR. All of these routes are within airspace where the carriage of RNAV 5 equipment is mandatory and therefore the unavailability of the VOR will only reduce levels of redundancy and will have minimal impact on these routes.
  • Exeter Airport – There are several procedures at Exeter Airport that make operational use of the BHD VOR, and the Exeter MATS Part 2 contains procedural separations based on BHD. However, as the airport is equipped with radar +, these procedural separations are only used in times of radar failure. The Senior Air Traffic Control Officer (SATCO) at Exeter Airport has confirmed that there will be no major impact to the airport operation during the replacement of the BHD VOR.  
  • Bristol Airport – The initial part of the Bristol Airport Arrival from BHD to EXMOR is contained within the ATS route N862 which is mandatory RNAV 5 airspace and is controlled by NERL or delegated to Cardiff. Although the Standard Arrival (STAR) is defined conventionally on the chart using BHD VOR and DME, the unavailability of the VOR will not impact the ability of aircraft to execute the STAR. The Bristol EXMOR Standard Instrument Departure (SID) has EXMOR defined by a conventional fix from Brecon (BCN) VOR/DME.
  • Cardiff Airport – The initial part of the Cardiff CDF 3D Arrival from BHD to EXMOR is contained within the ATS route N862 as above and similarly the unavailability of the VOR will not impact the ability of aircraft to execute the STAR. The Cardiff EXMOR SID is defined by the BHD VOR/DME. (Noting that in the Cardiff STAR and Bristol’s SID, EXMOR is defined by a VOR/DME fix from BCN). During the period when BHD is unavailable it will be necessary to temporarily redefine the Cardiff EXMOR SID from the BCN VOR/DME. This mitigation will be published in an AIP Supplement to be released on 18 December 2014 and follow up Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) action.
  • Guernsey Airport – BHD provides a VOR/DME navigation fix for the SKERY and BINGO significant points on SID charts.  The SATCO at Guernsey Airport has confirmed that there is no foreseen operational impact for Guernsey or Alderney as a result of the unavailability of the BHD VOR.
     
  • Jersey Airport – See the above paragraph for Guernsey.
  • The unavailability of the BHD VOR will have minimal impact on Air Transport and General Aviation.

Details of the replacement period for Lands End (LND), including relevant information from its Impact Assessment, will be promulgated nearer to the commencement of the work. The start date for this work has yet to be finalised but should be soon after the completion of the BHD replacement.

Any queries or requests for further guidance as a result of this communication should be addressed to:
 

Airspace Section
Safety and Airspace Regulation Group
CAA House
45-59 Kingsway
London
WC2B 6TE
Telephone:  +44 (0)20 7453 6553
E-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    

 

EASA Public Consultation Results - Aviation Safety and Regulation (EC) 216/2008

EASA have published a summary of the responses to the 2014 Commission questionnaire, about Aviation Safety and possible revision of Regulation (EC) 216/2008. This include input made by AOPA.

The response from EASA should be out early in the New Year and it will then go to the Commission with an opinion from EASA. By the 3rd Quarter of 2015 it will go through the European Parliamentary process before any amendment is made to the basic regulation (EC) 216/2008.

You can download the summary here (PDF 1.70MB).

GAAC - Airfield Planning Issues Report August to November 2014 :

The GAAC is the most representative UK body in General Aviation and is recognised as such by Government, the CAA and others to be the organisation that speaks for General Aviation on planning and environmental issues. AOPA provides significant funding to the GAAC.

This is the latest Airfield report produced by Steve Slater for the GAAC :

Summary

The continuing trend of airfield pressures, both from economic and housing threats and from inappropriate developments such as wind turbines in the immediate vicinity of flying sites, sadly continues. As has been reported in the past, this is led by government policy in prioritising land for housing ahead of other areas of infrastructure including transportation, which has in turn led to developers attempting to ‘cash in’ on the land resources.

The GAAC role in these cases has been to provide objective responses to those seeking to keep airfields open, while attempting to advise local planning officers both of the importance of GA airfield as a part of their local business, transport and economic infrastructure, and the recognition of this in the National Planning Policy Framework. In addition the GAAC is also actively driving the importance of leisure aviation as a resource and advocating local airfields’ role in providing accessible and sustainable flying training.

Planning Protection

Overall, the recent Government response to the Red Tape Challenge brought good news in terms of recognition of the importance of the GA industry and the need for sustaining a reasonable infrastructure to support it.However it was disappointing to note that airfields and planning was the one area in which Grant Shapps and his team had failed to address any of the questions raised within the challenge.

The continuing wish to devolve decision making to Local Planning Authorities and the support of continued CAA inaction in the protection of small and medium-sized airfields is flawed. Unless we lobby for a change of policy, current Government activities, by accident or design, will come too late to prevent the hemorrhaging of airfield sites, currently being lost to other land uses.

One means of creating greater protection for the change of use for sites would to be require that any change of use for an established airfield should be subject to the scrutiny of a Planning Enquiry. This is a procedure already used in some EU countries such as Germany.

This would at least ensure the debate, and any subsequent decision, would be subject to the measured and objective decision of a Planning Inspector, who is in a better position to offer an overview including airfields’ role as a part of the national transport and economic infrastructure. It would also act as a potential test of whether the aviation community in a particular area can offer a strong enough case for an airfield’s viability to convince an Inspector of its retention.

Currently, serious doubts about the objectivity of local councils often lead to a feeling of a ‘fait accompli’ once airfields are threatened. A decade ago, it was noted in the Lober Report that 41% of local planning authorities indicated they would offer no proactive protection to offer planning safeguards for flying sites and only 7% indicated that they would seek to protect flying sites. The involvement of the Planning Inspectorate in any change of use of airfields would significantly enhance the future protection of airfields as a part of the national infrastructure.

A further alternative may be to compel Local Planning Authorities to enter into formal consultation with the CAA as part of the change of use process, and that the CAA should be legally required  to make formal comment on any changes of airfield planning status.

Aerodrome Viability

The recent closure of Blackpool airport on financial grounds by Balfour Beatty has focussed attention on the failure of business model generated in the early 2000s of trying to turn what had been successful GA airfields into ‘regional airports’ aimed at attracting low cost airlines, at the expense of GA operations.

In addition to Blackpool, there are worrying signs that other similar operations are showing signs of distress. Perhaps now is the time for the GA sector to step forward in advocating more holistic use of the remaining airfield infrastructure and finding ways of demonstrating that GA offers airport operators a reasonable revenue stream?

GA Consultation

As part of recent inputs to Government, The GAAC made as submission on the current status of GA airfields to the All-Party Transport Select Committee last month. The GAAC has also attended meetings  with the Aerodrome Operators Association and Richard Kaberry the senior consultant for York Aviation, who is carrying out the Government’s GA research project.

Blackpool, Manston and Panshanger Closures

While all three of these airfields are now officially closed, activities continue to attempt to maintain some scope for their use for GA purposes.

At Blackpool, limited operations continue for based operators such as Westair, but no visiting aircraft are being accepted. Negotiations continue with local council and other interested parties, but concerns are that if no alternative is found by late November, the airfield infrastructure and assets will be dismantled and sold off.

At Manston, much of the infrastructure and resources have been sold and although Thanet District Council have pledged to debate a compulsory purchase order, the site has already been sold to a 'regeneration company’ for other land uses. Political pressure to maintain part of site for GA use is ongoing, potentially converting a taxiway to a GA runway, allowing redevelopment of a large part of the remaining site.

Panshanger was closed at the end of September when land-owner Mariposa Developments refused to extend the lease of their airfield tenants’ contracts, forcing airfield closure and removal of all aircraft. WHDC is however being pressurised to maintain airfield planning status, and as part of demonstrating sustainability, we have prepared documents for Save Panshanger and WHDC outlining GA aircraft parking requirements in SE England and contributed to a letter requesting that WHDC prevent Mariposa carrying out any demolition or disruption of landing areas, on safety grounds, till spring 2015.          .

Wellesbourne

In late July, the owners of the Wellesbourne airfield site presented a ‘Scoping Consultation’ document to Stratford District Council, presenting their plans for mixed housing and commercial development on the airfield site. We have supported Wellesbourne Matters with a GAAC objection to the proposal, filed with Stratford District Council, reminding them of their commitment as part of their core strategy plan that: “the established flying function of the airfield should be retained due to its importance to the local economy”.

Wellesbourne Matters have developed a radical approach to defending the airfield by focussing on fund raising to hire a legal practice, Zyda Law,that normally specialises in representing developers to refute protest group arguements. Among the initiatives they are employing is the development of alternative planning options, combining housing with continued use of the airfield, to demonstrate that the housing developer’s option is not the only one available.

Wycombe

The GAAC is closely monitoring concerns that Wycombe District Council are attempting to ‘claw back’ around 30 acres of land on the south side of the aerodrome, in a similar location to that unsuccessfully proposed for a football stadium in 2011, to develop light industry sites. While Wycombe is already well served by such industrial areas, the council are thought to be using this development provide justification for an additional southerly spur road from the M40 Handy Cross intersection, which would in turn unlock around 1000 acres of land on the SE of the M40 intersection for potential housing that cannot currently be allocated due to a lack of appropriate road access.

The council are attempting to achieve the airfield ‘land grab’ by rejecting the renewal of the existing airfield lease, which was taken over by Heli-Air. While the GAAC does not wish to get involved in the likely legal battle between the two parties, were the area of airfield be lost, it would mean the loss of the airfield’s N/S runway and the end of gliding operations by  Booker Gliding Club.

Good News. Bentwaters and Rochester

Suffolk Coastal District Council have, after a vigorous debate and objections posted by organisations including the National Trust, unanimously approved plans to increase flights at the former US airbase, Bentwaters, near Woodbridge. Flights will be limited to historic, classic or vintage aircraft, or piston-engined general aviation planes, or other aircraft below a maximum take-off weight of 15 tonnes. A maximum of 960 aircraft movements a year will be permitted, no more than 40 a week, with no flying between 9pm and 7am.

Rochester Airport is in the final stages of planning approval for the Council-led plans to redevelop the airfield with a lit tarmac and parallel grass runway, new hangars and admin buildings, as part of a 25-year plan. The planning process is expected to be completed in December and work on redevelopment will begin in 2015.

Wind Turbines / Safeguarding

The initial planning applications for the two large wind turbine developments at Bullington Cross and South Woodmancott, which threaten operations at Lasham and Popham, have been refused by all three local council planning committees and, as both applications will now either move to public enquiry or be ‘called in’ by the Secretary of State for direct decision, we have successfully lobbied for the LPA to give grounds for rejection including "impact on GA (not just military Radar) at Lasham and Popham - and recognition of their ‘value and of national policy thereon’.  This gives case precedence for both airfields'  involvement in likely Public Enquiries or Secretary of State submissions. The GAAC has also offered all three councils’ assistance in preparing supporting submissions on behalf of the GA Community.

The past months have seen the GAAC successfully lead to the removal of two inappropriate wind turbine development proposals in the immediate vicinity of ‘farm strip’ flying sites in Devon, but three new cases have been come to light. In each case the developer has clearly ignored a visible and long-established flying site, hoping to hoodwink or force through an application without carrying out an appropriate risk analysis or contacting the flying site operator. In each case we have reminded the LPA that the development is in breach of CAA advice and if allowed they place the local authority in a potential position of liability if a resulting incident were to occur.

It was noteworthy that none of these flying sites had been unofficially safeguarded by the submission of  plans to the LPA. However the reaction from most ‘Flying Farmers’ is that they “get nothing but hassle from their LPAs and would rather keep a low profile or they don't want to open a bag of worms.” One FFA member stated “Until there is a more professional attitude from LPAs, and with my own experience, I find it difficult to advise our members to go through that performance.”

At the November GAAC council meeting, safeguarding specialist Richard Vousden agreed to work with GAAC to create an information sheet for local planning officers, in a similar form to the advice provided on wind turbines. This fact sheet will be available in early 2015.

Downwind Turbulence Research

Results of the research work on downwind turbulence from wind turbines initiated by GAAC, via the crossindustry Air Space Initiative Wind Farm Working Group, and funded by CAA and Renewable UK, will shortly be published. It is hoped that an initial briefing on the Liverpool University project may be available at the ASIWWG meeting on Thursday 20th November and that the final report will be published early next year, in time for inclusion in an updated version of CAP 764. This will offer a more complex and accurate model than the current ‘16 x rotor diameter’ figure based on 2003 research.  

Industry Co-operation

In addition, the GAAC are continuing to work with the industry to try to both develop mitigation and awareness of the specific needs of and risks to General Aviation. In addition to our work with the Air Space Initiative Wind Farm Working Group (ASIWWG), for the first time we have been invited to address the Renewable UK national conference, giving an unprecedented opportunity to present the case for General Aviation as a specific category with different requirements to Commercial Air Transport.

Oxford RMZ

We have been made aware of the start of a consultative process by London Oxford Airport regarding the application of a radio mandatory zone (RMZ) for air traffic operations to the north of the airport: https://sites.google.com/site/oxfordairportrmz/home .

As this is based on their wish for a known airworthiness environment for traffic flying NDB approaches to runway 19 from the Daventry NDB, it is likely to directly involve and potentially exclude non-radio traffic currently known to be operating from Shennington, Shotteswell, Bicester, Hinton and Enstone as well as several private airfields in the area. It will also potentially impact on airfield utilisation at Chiltern Park, Turweston, Sywell, Wellesbourne and further afield as en-route traffic will almost certainly be affected.

While GAAC is not directly involved in airspace discussions, Stephen Slater circulated information to the LAA, BMAA and BGA informing them of the situation, to allow them to respond on behalf of members. The VAC will also preparing their own response on behalf of our 300 Vintage Aircraft Club members,  many of whom operate non-radio vintage and classic airfield in this area.

Significant Areas for Sport

Work continues on the future classification by Sport England of flying sites as Significant Areas for Sport (SASP), based on sport flying and competition aerobatic activities, giving additional planning protection. Currently around 15 sites have been identified for consideration by Sport England.

However some of these sites have requested a delay while the land owners are consulted as there are clearly implications for future sale of land in the future. Following further dialogue with the LAA, BMAA, British Aerobatic Association, Royal Aero Club, Helicopter Club of Great Britain, it is hoped that an aerodrome owners’ questionnaire for each site will be completed by the end of December.
 
Anemometer Mast Conspicuity

One of the major steps forward in recent weeks has been development of greater conspicuity for ‘met masts’. While we have no statutory capability, the CAA asked the GAAC to provide advice to planning officers in a joint initiative. We initially advocated the use of ‘spherical orange markers’ such as used on high-voltage power cables. The weight of these however caused concerns of potential structural overload in high winds or icing condition, so we researched the creation of greater visual acquisition of the 15 bird flight deflectorsalready required to be placed on each outer guy wire.

We identified a specific type of reflective bird flight deflector, which is 135mm in diameter and weighing 0.2kg, which may achieve reasonable visual recognition at about 1km without the additional structural load. As a result of the moves forward in this respect, the CAA has requested wording from GAAC to be incorporated in the next update to CAP 764 “CAA Policy and Guidelines on Wind Turbines” early in 2015.

Stephen Slater.
14th November 2014

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