Rules of the Air

Rules of the air are important. They exist for the guidance of the wise and the protection of the foolish.

It is important for all pilots to have a basic understanding of the rules of the air. For example, collision avoidance rules as described in detail in the BGA’s ‘Managing Flying Risk‘ publication should be ingrained in all solo pilots. But no pilot can be expected to remember all the detailed rules of the air, so knowing where to look to find the detail if it is needed is also important.

The Basics

The fundamental rules of the air that apply to collision avoidance are detailed in the BGA publication ‘managing flying risk‘.

Study guides are a great way of both understanding and learning the rules of the air.

‘Bronze and Beyond’ is written for glider pilots and is recommended reading for all trainee and more experienced glider pilots. The publication is periodically updated by the experienced gliding instructor author.

‘Air Law Aeronautical Knowledge’ covers all Rules of the Air and other Air Law requirements and is an excellent guide for all recreational pilots for both examination study as well as practical day to day knowledge.

The Detail

Standardised European Rules of the Air

The European rules of the air are established by EU regulation and known as SERA – Standardised European Rules of the Air.

SERA rules are based on ICAO recommendations and in particular ICAO Annex 2 (rules of the air). They apply to all airspace users and aircraft operating in the EU.

Glider pilots are expected to be familiar with rules of the air and should have a good knowledge of the elements that apply to their operation, including collision avoidance rules, and airspace classifications.

SERA Appendix 1 contains important information about ground signals and signs. There are elements of  SERA which, while interesting, are not particularly relevant to gliding operations, eg the 8000, 9000, 10000 and 12000 series.

SERA can be viewed on the EASA website.

For ease of reference, the SERA publication current in January 2017 is available here as a pdf.  A pdf can be searched by selecting ‘Ctrl f’ and then typing in a word.

EASA also publishes an ‘easy access’ version of SERA.

Now please read about UK differences…

UK Rules of the Air Differences

The UK has retained a small number of differences from SERA. These are published as Official Record Series exemptions, including;

ORS4 No.1174 Standardised European Rules of the Air – Exceptions to the Minimum Height Requirements