Avoiding infringements

What is an airspace infringement?

An infringement is a flight into notified airspace that has not been subject to approval by the designated controlling authority of that airspace in accordance with international and national regulations. Such airspace is considered to be:

  • Controlled airspace, namely ICAO airspace classes A to E. Note: VFR traffic cannot infringe Class E airspace because under ICAO rules neither an ATC clearance nor a radio communication is required to enter or operate within it, unless filed national differences call for one or the other (or both). IFR traffic can infringe Class E airspace when not in receipt of a clearance to enter it.
  • Aerodrome Traffic Zones, where these exist in Class G airspace.
  • Airspace restrictions, such as: Prohibited, Restricted and Dangers Areas, Temporary Reserved Airspace or airspace notified by a restriction of flying in accordance with national requirements.

All sectors of the aviation community – commercial, military and GA alike – are associated with airspace infringements. Infringement reports submitted to the CAA through the Mandatory Occurrence Reporting (MOR) scheme form the basis of infringement statistics to which the CAA and the Airspace Infringement Working Group will refer in the course of their work.

Infringing is potentially dangerous and disruptive – and ultimately results in curtailment of the freedoms to fly that all pilots need and enjoy.

What can I do as a pilot?

  1. Make sure you are aware of the good practices that the vast majority of pilots use to successfully avoid infringements, including careful pre-flight planning, checking NOTAMs, using moving maps with up to date data and airspace audible warnings, and using an up to date 1/2 mil chart.
  2. Flying very close to the boundaries of controlled airspace may be necessary. But be ultra careful – if adequate care is not taken, thermalling can result in the glider drifting into controlled airspace, or flying through strong lift can nudge a glider into controlled airspace. Wherever a pilot flying close to controlled airspace has the capacity to do so, they should advise the controller of their intentions – the controller will otherwise always assume the glider could infringe and will be arranging traffic inside the controlled airspace with that in mind.
  3. If you have inadvertently entered controlled airspace, leave the controlled airspace immediately. If that may take time, contact ATC or call D&D on 121.5. After landing, please report the infringement.
  4. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to talk to your CFI.
  5. Please take time to learn more, eg take a look at the following;

Top tips and guidance in Cross Country and Airspace.

The Airspace Safety Initiative website.

BGA navigation training and testing guidance – and then think about whether you would benefit from a refresh on any of the detail.

CAA airspace infringement tutorial aimed at GA pilots who have infringed.