Pre-flight planning is one of the most important steps to a safe flight,
is endorsed by NATS

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Learn how to reduce the risk of mid-air collision and airspace infringements.

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View from the cockpit

Join the airfield circuit safely by using a standard overhead join.

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Lookout – see and avoid

Under visual flight rules ‘see and avoid’ is the prime means of segregation.

As a general rule, you should keep your eyes focussed for no more than 4-5 seconds on anything inside the aircraft for every 16 seconds spent scanning outside the aircraft.

Scan patterns

Two scanning patterns have proved to be effective for pilots:

  1. Side-to-side scanning method
    Start at the far left of your visual area and make a methodical sweep to the right, pausing very briefly in each block of the viewing area to focus your eyes. At the end of the scan, return to and scan the instrument panel and then repeat the external scan.
  2. Front-to-side scanning method
    Start in the centre block of your visual field (centre of front windshield); move to the left, focusing very briefly in each block, then swing quickly back to the centre block after reaching the last block on the left and repeat the action to the right. Then, after scanning the instrument panel, repeat the external scan.


Using a transponder

  • Use a transponder. It will help ATC to see you on radar and may help to prevent an infringement or provide a quick resolution if an infringement occurs.
  • Use the ALT function. It will show your level on radar and is particularly useful to controllers when you are flying below controlled airspace.
  • Use of a transponder enables TCAS installed in some aircraft to be aware of your presence, providing a significant safety net.
  • Use listening out squawks where they are available.

Use of GPS

  • Do not use a GPS to ‘fly the line’ of controlled airspace as a small navigational error or distraction can lead to an infringement, and in some airspace commercial traffic can be less than three nautical miles inside the boundary.
  • Ensure that GPS maps are up-to-date by using the latest database.
  • Learn how to operate airspace warning elements of a GPS where fitted.
  • Consider using a GPS-based airspace warning tool as a navigational back-up.


Infringement of controlled airspace, danger and restricted areas is a serious aviation hazard and occurs when an aircraft enters the airspace without permission.

Risks of infringement

  • Losing separation from other aircraft, including airliners, that may result in collision.
  • Danger from military artillery or missile firing, manoeuvring high-performance aircraft, unmanned aircraft or helicopters.
  • Collision with glider tow cables if flying through a glider launch site.
  • Collision with parachutists or a parachute aircraft if flying through a parachute drop zone.

Preventing infringements

  • Make sure your navigation skills are current.
  • Plan your flight properly and then fly the plan.
  • Use an airspace alerting system such as Aware.
  • Use listening out squawks where they are available.
  • Turn on your transponder and make sure the ALT function is switched on.
  • Use the ATC services available and ask D&D for help on 121.5 MHz if you become unsure of your position.

The Aware airspace warning device was developed with the full endorsement of NATS to address the year on year increase in airspace infringements in the UK. You can find more information at

Tip: Did you know that the ASI website hosts a set of video guides to flying around the London TMA? Take a look at them at