As part of its programme to deliver operational improvements to aircraft flying VFR, FASVIG identified that the airspace between Solent and The Channel Islands needed to be modernised. The lower levels or Airway Q41, which had a base of FL35, were barely used by commercial aircraft but because it was Class A airspace, VFR aircraft and IFR aircraft where the pilot has a restricted instrument rating were excluded. The airway is bounded by military danger areas so most GA aircraft flying to or from The Channel Islands and France had to fly at low level over the sea, an unnecessary risk for single-engine aircraft and their occupants.
Using the Release of Controlled and Segregated Airspace procedure, FASVIG conducted 3 rounds of consultation to achieve a design that was acceptable to all parties; the resulting proposal was approved by the CAA on 22 February. The base of Q41 between THRED and ORTAC will be raised from FL35 to FL55 on 25 May 2017. The liberated airspace becomes Class G, thus implementing a much needed safety improvement on this route.
FASVIG project leader Chris Mitchell said;
“Raising the base of Q41 to FL55 is a significant achievement that makes the channel crossing safer for GA aircraft. The new Class G airspace will abut the Solent CTA to the north (Class D 3500ft to 5500ft) and the CI CTR to the south (Class D SFC to FL80), both of which are accessible to GA aircraft flying VFR or IFR with an IR or IR(R). This improvement has been worth the effort and demonstrates that anyone can raise an airspace change and see it through to a successful conclusion. Although this took us 3 years we now understand the process and know it can be done in a shorter time.”
The full press release is available here: