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 airspace users
  • Notes the future growth of drone activity and the implications of integration with other airspace users
  • 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. 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.

Airspace change

The BGA is involved with most ACPs that impact on gliding. Where possible, we respond alongside or as a part of a GA Alliance response.

Club airspace officers are encouraged to get involved with tracking potential airspace issues that may result in ACPs. This 2019 news item describes the approach taken.

Airspace change proposals under CAP725 can be viewed here.

Airspace change proposals under CAP1616 can be viewed here.

The CAA airspace department can be contacted here.