The FAS paper, Class G Airspace for the 21st Century, includes sections on the operational requirement for airspace for each of the main airspace user groups but it does not apply any geographical distribution to those requirements. There is no VFR activity mapping and without that the information related to the use of airspace by non-commercial activities cannot be utilised in airspace planning and decision making.
Within the UK FIR there are areas that are significant to VFR flight, either because they are important for military or civil training, provide VFR routes joining or around centres of population or they provide the conditions needed for recreational flying or air sports, some to World Championship standard. These areas also connect airfields used for VFR operations and provide international VFR connectivity; they are mainly over the UK landmass including the inshore waters and islands with connections to Ireland and the near continent.
Presently there is no categorisation of these areas and when an increase in regulated airspace is proposed by a sponsor, they have no means to reference the present function or value of areas they propose to change or have an impact on. This package would propose to address that by developing a non-statutory register of VFR significant areas (VSA) that would be recognised by authority. It would mirror the existing process set up by Sport England and which performs a similar and proven function related to sports facilities and land development. This proposal would see airspace user groups develop national dossiers of such areas which would be subject to scrutiny by the CAA and where agreed, be made publicly available by authority to inform the change process. Sponsors of airspace change would be expected to take these dossiers into account and identify the impact of their proposal on existing airspace usage and offer mitigation during the consultation phase of the ACP process.
In addition, this would provide a framework against which other airspace users would be able to comment effectively on proposals for change and the decision making process would have more complete and balanced information available to it.
There are 3 elements to this package; FASVIG would:
- Develop a process to map VFR activity, register VSA’s and a mechanism to utilise the data during the Airspace Change Process.
- Identify VSA’s and construct dossiers for consideration and inclusion.
- Utilise the information gleaned from the second element to review the current structure of significant areas, identify those that may be less effective than they should be and propose adjustment.
To be useful the register would need to be maintained and the resource implication recognised.