Airspace Modernisation and Change

The UK airspace structure is widely recognised as being unfit for purpose. A Government directed Airspace Modernisation Strategy (AMS) replaces the current Future Airspace Strategy (FAS) and aims to redevelop UK airspace over the next twenty years. You can read more from the CAA here.

The BGA;

  • Recognises the need to protect the public who are travelling in commercial air transport aircraft
  • Supports the need for carefully considered airspace modernisation that reasonably addresses the needs of gliding and other GA
  • Does not automatically oppose all airspace change proposals – each is carefully considered on its merits

CAA has developed and published the Airspace Modernisation Strategy (AMS).

The implementation of the AMS will be overseen by an organisation called the Airspace Co-ordination Oversight Group (ACOG), which is staffed by NATS and reports to a complex governance structure headed by the Aviation Minister.

NATS (a corporation that provides air navigation services) has already started to redesign upper airspace (ie above 7000′).

Lower airspace, ie below 7000′, is much more of a problem. Under airspace modernisation plans to date, there is no intention to have a lower airspace strategy or plan beyond leaving the airports to hopefully work together to design airspace for their own use. There are no signs of any of the associated airspace policies and standards being modernised. And CAA does not have powers to intervene when controlled airspace is no longer required but retained. The resulting mess is and will continue to be inefficient and bad for GA.

Two AMS infrastructure projects that are underway are FASI-S and FASI-N. These huge airspace projects involve multiple airpports submitting multiple airspace changes, including to link up with upper airspace currently being redesigned by NATS.  The FASI-S airports are listed below. These airports are being encouraged to work together to develop integrated airspace designs.

To ensure that the needs of all airspace users are reasonably met and to restore balance, the BGA believes that the way lower airspace is designed and managed needs to change. A strategic approach needs to be adopted in partnership with all lower airspace users, with a more assertive CAA overseeing compliance with modern airspace policies and standards that are fit for purpose. The report that followed the Lord Kirkhope inquiry into the UK’s lower airspace provides useful direction.

The BGA is working towards those aims with other GA organisations, the Government and Regulators. For more detail see Consultations and Representation.

Club Engagement

BGA clubs are encouraged to monitor local airspace developments through club airspace officer engagement with Regional Airspace User Groups and periodic checks of the NATS and CAA consultation webpages.

It is helpful if clubs that do identify and engage with an emerging airspace change inform the BGA.

The BGA will endeavour to keep clubs informed of airspace change proposals (ACP’s) that may have an impact on their operations.

Airspace Consultations

There are some 100 airspace change proposals (ACP’s) in the CAA system at any one time. Many have a potential impact on gliding.

CAA airspace consultation information can be viewed here

NATS airspace consultation information can be viewed here.

BGA responses to airspace modernisation consultations will normally be aligned with or made through the GA Alliance.

You can view the BGA’s agreed ACP Stage 1 ‘Principles’ guidance here.

The following airports are taking part in the FASI-S programme. Listed here with their respective ACP IDs (note that the Exeter ACP is outside the scope of FASI-S work).

Airport Code ACP ID
Biggin Hill EGKB 2018-69
Bournemouth EGHH 2019-43
Bristol EGGD 2018-55
Cardiff EGFF 2019-41
East Mids EGNX 2019-44
Gatwick EGKK 2018-60
Heathrow EGLL 2017-43
London City EGLC 2018-89
Luton EGGW 2018-70
Southend EGMC 2018-90
RAF Northolt EGWU 2018-66
Manston EGMH 2018-75
Southampton EGHI 2019-03
Stansted EGSS 2019-01
Farnborough EGLF
Birmingham EGBB
Exeter EGTE