CAA – short term changes to help air traffic control return to service

From the CAA (15th May):

We are acutely aware of the impact that COVID-19 is having on UK aviation and are committed to supporting all sectors to recover as quickly and as safely as possible.

The fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on a fall in demand for aviation across the board has resulted in an understandable reduction in the capacity of some air traffic control units. As aviation restarts it will take time for these units to bring operational teams back online (many of them across the UK have been forced to furlough employees and reduce the amount of operational staff on duty) and for all the services they provide to return to normal capacity. We also anticipate a gradual recovery in LARS provision as staff at both MoD and civil units will have been either redeployed or furloughed during the ‘lockdown’. Consequently, LARS services may not be immediately available or at most a Basic Service may be the best that can be provided while staff recover their competencies.

Following a review of how the return to service could happen we believe that when the current ‘lockdown’ and its related restrictions are relaxed and these air traffic control units start to recover there may be a mismatch between their capacity and the demand from the GA community. In these unprecedented times it is vitally important that every stakeholder plays their part in supporting the aviation industry to recover. We are therefore temporarily requesting GA pilots to support this build up of capacity by air traffic control units by filing a flight plan prior to departure if they are intending on accessing an airport CTR or CTA.

The request to file a Flight plans does not apply in the following circumstances:

If there is an aircraft emergency

If you are operating under an existing Letter of Agreement between the aircraft operator and the air traffic control unit responsible for the airport CTR/CTA

More information on filing a flight plan is available at: https://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/20130121SSL20.pdf

This temporary requirement is solely focused on those who require pre-planned access to airport CTAs/CTRs and does not affect flying in any other airspace. Importantly this measure is not meant to discourage or impede GA from using airways. Filing a flight plan does not remove the need to call when approaching the boundary for clearance.

These measures are temporary and we will be looking to remove them as soon as possible. We will be reviewing the restrictions on a monthly basis.