The Rules of the Air Regulation 2015 require aircraft to announce their intention to enter an ATZ on the designated frequency and obtain information for safe operation in the ATZ from the relevant Air/Ground or Aaerodrome Flight Information Service (AFIS) station. Flight within an ATZ for which an aerodrome traffic service is active requires permission from the relevant Air Traffic Service Unit (ATSU.

By way of an example of an ATZ, Herefordshire Gliding Club (HGC) flies from Shobdon Airfield near the Welsh border, which is marked on air charts with an Air Traffic Zone (ATZ) along with its radio frequency 118.155 MHz.  The airfield is often busy with a variety of aircraft such as small aeroplanes, flex and fixed wing microlights, helicopters, gyrocopters and of course gliders and a tug.  There are occasional movements by larger aircraft such as heavy military helicopters and business twins.

All aircraft within the ATZ are required to use radio so that the extraordinary mix of aircraft types can safely operate together.  During the daytime (generally 9-5 local time) there is a Flight Information Service or an Air Ground Service.  If you are getting low in the Shobdon area and think you may enter the ATZ, either in an attempt to thermal away or to land, dial in the airfield frequency so that you are ready to call if you need to.  By law you must call before you enter the ATZ.  Don’t worry if you aren’t word perfect – the radio operator will prompt you to tell them what they need to know which is your aircraft type (i.e. glider), roughly where you are, your height above the airfield and what your intentions are.  Note that, in contrast to some larger airfields, the radio operators at Shobdon are not Air Traffic Controllers and therefore cannot grant or deny you permission to enter the ATZ.

The general rule in the Shobdon ATZ is that power traffic remains south of the runway unless above 1500 ft. Gliders and the tug remain north of the runway until they are above the top of the ATZ.  There are parallel tarmac and grass runways 26-08.  Gliders generally land on the grass runway to the north of the tarmac runway.

HGC welcomes visiting pilots who keep to the rules and may be able to offer an aerotow retrieve, but don’t enter the Shobdon ATZ without establishing radio contact.  If you arrive after 5 pm you may not get any response to your radio call, so make blind radio calls to ‘Shobdon Traffic’ announcing your intention.

Read more about ATZ’s here.