The Future Airspace Strategy (FAS) was launched in 2011 with its initial focus on improving the efficiency of CAT in CAS through an industry Implementation Group (FASIIG).  To deliver the vision of the FAS to other airspace users a FAS VFR Implementation Group (FASVIG) was formed in 2012.  Its objective is to develop a FAS VFR Deployment Plan to deliver tangible benefits for VFR users from 2015 to 2020 and to establish a sustainable future for VFR operations.

FASVIG membership comprises business and general aviation, the flight training industry, sporting and recreational aviation, NATS, airlines, airports, MOD and the CAA.

This document sets out proposals for developing the FAS VFR Deployment Plan.  The key elements are:

Organising FASVIG’s Work

Three working groups would develop the changes needed and timescales for implementation.  They would cover:

  • Airspace and Procedures,
  • Regulatory and Government Policy and,
  • Information Management and Communications.

The working Groups would identify the requirements and deliverables and coordinate work by stakeholder groups towards the objective.

A joint chairs co-ordinating group would be responsible for safety oversight.

A professional programme co-ordinator has been appointed to support the groups and interface with stakeholders and the wider aviation sector.

Developing the Deployment Plan

It is proposed that the Deployment Plan focuses on specific improvements in the efficiency of VFR operations based on packages of change broadly linked to the FAS.  These are subdivided into areas related to:

Modernising Airspace Structures:

  • The importance of VFR operations is understood and recognised in airspace policy and decision making.  Controlled and regulated airspace is rebalanced to reflect the needs of both VFR and IFR operations.  Flexible management of airspace structures is widely implemented and based on greater engagement with VFR operators.

Access to Airspace:

  • The capacity of airspace structures to accommodate VFR operations is measured and maximised.  VFR aircraft are not excluded from any airspace that is not being fully utilised for its intended purpose and airspace sharing is enabled in near real-time.

VFR Efficiency Enablers:

  • The information and procedures needed to operate safely and efficiently in complex airspace structures are readily available and accessible.  Notification of particular airspace activities and restrictions are available and timely. The environmental impact of VFR operations is improved.

Each package would contain a mix of new capabilities and an indication of when and where they could be deployed.

The majority of work can be managed within the stakeholder groups however some work will need to be directly funded.

Regulatory and policy changes will be required to support the packages of change and these will need to be considered in parallel with the other work.

Priorities and Risks

  • A number of package elements should be deliverable in the short term subject to agreement and the availability of resources and expertise.
  • Resources and commitment are the principal early risk for the FASVIG programme and it cannot move forward to the Deployment Plan development stage unless these can be secured and assured.