Move follows investigation into a 2002 near-miss in north-east of England

Uncontrolled airspace in the UK - about half of the total UK flight information region - should be phased out, says the British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA).

Sparking BALPA's demand is a recommendation by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that action should be taken "with the aim of eliminating airproxes [loss of separation incidents] and potential collisions with likely large-scale loss of life".

This followed its investigation of a 22 April 2002 airprox between a Bombardier Dash 8-300 climbing out of Newcastle airport, in north eastern England, for Stavanger, Norway, and a pair of Royal Navy Sea Harriers. At the end of the report, which said the closest point of approach between the Dash 8 and Harriers was about 1km (0.6 miles) laterally, the AAIB cited eight other examples of commercial air transport (CAT)/military airproxes in uncontrolled (Class G) airspace since January 2000. It made three recommendations relating to Class G airspace in the north-eastern UK:

The CAA should re-examine the airspace categorisation, procedures and services available to CAT aircraft that operate through unregulated airspace associated with airports;

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) should review the operation of military aircraft in unregulated airspace and their equipment to ensure adequate separation from CAT operations;

Concurrent use of unregulated airspace by CAT and military aircraft in the north-east of the UK should be reviewed jointly at the highest level by the CAA and the MoD.

The UK Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) says Class G is an "efficient" way to set aside airspace for visual flight rules traffic. The CAA says a radar information service is available in most class G airspace to advise on local traffic activity, and that it continually reviews airspace status and liaises with the MoD about procedures.

Meanwhile, the UK Airprox Board reports that last year there were no Category A ("a risk of collision existed") but two Category B ("the safety of the aircraft was compromised") events.


Source: Flight International