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Infringement hotspots face big reduction targets

The number of serious airspace infringements at six of the highest risk air traffic zones in the UK, should be cut by much as 50 per cent over the next 12 months, to head off the need for further action, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced. Possible options under consideration, should the target for the particular hotspot not be met, include the deployment of bespoke ‘surveillance mandatory zones’.

Working teams, made up of local pilots, airport operators, air traffic controllers and CAA representatives, in each of the ‘hotspots’, have agreed the targets and committed to delivering the reductions through improvements to current procedures by December 2015. The six hotspots, which account for a significant proportion of the annual UK total, are:

• Birmingham
• Gatwick
• Heathrow
• Luton
• Southampton
• Stansted

The new strategy follows significant efforts over a number of years to educate general aviation pilots on how to avoid infringing Controlled Airspace, Danger Areas and Temporary Restricted Airspace. However, despite such campaigns, by the Airspace & Safety Initiative (ASI) and others, infringement rates have shown no significant decline over the last ten years.

The reduction targets include both high risk and overall numbers of infringements, with a success target based on high risk event numbers.

Failure to achieve the target could see the future introduction of surveillance mandatory zones (SMZ) to provide a conspicuity buffer around particular hotspot. The aim of the SMZ will be to provide a ‘known traffic environment’ around the hotspot’s class D airspace. This could lead to a requirement for the mandatory use of radios and/or transponders in that buffer area. Other options, such as rationalising airspace boundaries, are also a potential solution.

The Local Airspace Infringement Teams for each hotspot have been established and regular meetings are already underway. ASI will notify the general aviation community of their progress over the coming months.

For further media information contact the CAA Press Office on: 0207 453 6030 or

Follow the Airspace & Safety Initiative on Twitter @airspacesafety

Notes to Editors:

1. ASI is a joint CAA, NATS, AOA, GA and MoD effort to investigate and tackle the major safety risks in UK airspace.
2. 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.