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For those about to fly – don’t forget to plan

With spring finally here and the flying season about to begin in earnest, pilots are being urged to remember the basics to stay safe this summer. The plea from the Airspace & Safety Initiative (ASI) aims to reduce the number of airspace infringements and airprox incidents over the coming months.

The significant increase in recreational flying activity in April traditionally results in a steep rise in airspace infringements – a rise that continues throughout the summer, peaking in August, before starting to decline again in September. To help counter the April surge, ASI are reminding pilots to stick to the basics, such as good pre flight planning; effective look-out techniques; and, where possible, the use of a transponder.

To ensure they are well prepared for their first flight of the year, ASI recommends that pilots:

• Always check the weather and NOTAMs ahead of any flight;
• Specifically, look out for dates and locations of flying displays, particularly those involving military fast jets;
• Use a flight planning package such as SkyDemon Light or Rocket Route, and spend time finding out how to get the most out of it.
• Use the AIS Information Line (0500 354 8020) as a final check that nothing has changed before getting airborne.
• Use a GPS and transponder (set to ALT) and squawk ‘Listening Out’ codes where possible.
• Practice lookout scan techniques and ask any passengers to assist.
• Don’t be afraid to call D&D on 121.50 for a position fix.
• Follow the correct procedures when joining the circuit and maintain protocol when in the circuit.
• Practice effective navigation techniques. After the long winter break, allow an extra margin and plan tracks away from the edge of CAS. Consider practising navigation in an area away from CAS – fly with an instructor if you think your navigation is rusty.

In addition, pilots should also familiarise themselves with the location of glider sites, hang-gliding and paragliding winch sites, as well as microlight sites which can be very busy during informal fly-ins (take time to find out how these sites are depicted on VFR charts by studying the legend). Finally, never fly through the overhead of a parachute drop zone or a military danger area, unless you know for sure it’s inactive. Simply keeping clear of these sites is the surest way to stay safe.

More information and downloadable resources can be found at

Detailed information on avoiding an infringement can be found in this short guide

Notes to Editors:
ASI is a joint CAA, NATS, AOA, GA and MoD effort to investigate and tackle the major safety risks in UK airspace.
The CAA is the UK’s specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy from an economic standpoint.