Download and share this guidance for pilots visiting the UK
An airspace infringement is the unauthorised entry of an aircraft into notified airspace without a clearance or permission.
Notified airspace includes: controlled airspace; prohibited and restricted airspace; active danger areas; aerodrome traffic zones (ATZ); radio mandatory zones (RMZ) and transponder mandatory zones (TMZ).
It is also when the entry does not comply with the conditions of the clearance, permission or relevant airspace rules. An airspace infringement has the potential to cause a serious safety incident that could lead to a mid-air collision.
In 2023 there were 1,384 reported airspace infringement incidents in UK airspace. Around 10% involved pilots visiting the UK.
Tips to avoid airspace infringements
Before the flight
- Prepare and plan your flight – include intended and alternative routes and identify notified airspace.
- Remember a clearance is required to enter controlled airspace. This is separate to having your Flight Plan filed and activated to enter the UK Flight Information Regions.
- Prepare an alternative plan in case you are not granted access to the airspace you wish to fly in.
- Get the information you need from regulated sources: NATS Aeronautical Information Services for Aeronautical Information and the UK Met Office site for pilot weather information.
- Use modern technologies and navigation software (VFR moving maps) to help your planning and navigation.
- Note the radio frequencies for Air Traffic Control (ATC) and Flight Information Service (FIS) and any Frequency Monitoring Codes that you will need during your flight.
- Remember that service provision might be different in UK – check UK Flight Information Services (CAP744) to understand the differences.
During the flight
- Always know where you are by maintaining situational awareness. Your flight plan is your guide to your route, but be ready to change for weather, other aircraft or delayed/denied clearances.
- Use a VFR moving map to increase your situational awareness.
- Stay in contact with ATC whenever possible and actively monitor their radio frequencies to be aware of any problems whilst in the air.
- Establish two-way communication with ATC for the airspace you wish to enter – on the right frequency and in good time.
- If you do not require an ATC service, use the appropriate Frequency Monitoring Code (squawk)
- Remember that London and Scottish Information are non-radar units and will not be able to see where you are nor issue a clearance to enter controlled airspace.
- Stay visible to others by having your transponder switched on to your assigned squawk – or the default conspicuity codes of 7000 (VFR) or 2000 (IFR). Standard SSR operating procedures are set out in the UK AIP at ENR 1.6 on the NATS Aeronautical Information Publication website.
- Obtain a clearance before entering controlled airspace.
- Communicate, it will help deal with any exceptional situation. If you have infringed notified airspace, keep your transponder switched on and contact the ATC or FIS unit to inform them.
After the flight
- Carry out post-flight analysis – replay and review your flight to learn from your experience, this should include the use of VFR moving maps.
- Think about any confusions or mis-understanding that you may have experienced during flight.
- Share your good and bad experiences with others.
- Report any incident that happened during your flight.
If you have been involved in an infringement in UK airspace please report it to the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA):
- through the European Portal
- online at airspacesafety.com/infringement-form/
NATS AERONAUTICAL INFORMATION SERVICE for Aeronautical Information
UK MET OFFICE for weather information and free Aviation Briefing Service
THE SKYWAY CODE Easy, quick access to key information from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
CAA SAFETY SENSE leaflets including:
PLAN YOUR FLIGHT, SQUAWK THE RELEVANT CODE, COMMUNICATE WITH THE RIGHT AGENCY