France has amended its nuclear no-fly zone restrictions following complaints from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) of the UK's Channel Islands that the rules made operating to certain airfields on Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey more difficult.

France had demarcated a prohibited and restricted zone around the Cap de la Hague nuclear reprocessing plant last October as part ofits anti-terrorism precautions.

The original notice to airmen (NOTAM) established an exclusion zone of 10km (6nm) radius and a restricted zone of 30km radius around the Cabbillaud radar, at the edge of the facility.

Alderney lies around 15km from the French facility and the restricted area crosses into airspace controlled by Jersey Airport airtraffic control centre.

Charles Strasser, chairman of AOPA Channel Islands region, says that flying through the restricted airspace, which extended to 5,000ft (1,525m), previously required 48h prior approval and was only available for pilots who were based in Alderney, Guernsey, or Cherbourg, France.

This measure restricted UK and other foreign pilots from using the usual approach paths to Alderney airport, which is popular with aircraft owners in southern England due to its tax-free fuel.

The NOTAM has now been changed to permit aircraft with any registration to fly through the restricted zone after giving 1h notice, but up to 7,000ft. The requirement for altitude-reporting transponders has also been modified to allow tandem flights for older aircraft, which would have affected vintage aircraft shows on the islands this summer.

Last year, Channel Island airports reduced landing charges by two-thirds to £3 ($5) per 500kg (1,100lb) for seven days, which led to an increase in general aviation traffic of 42% last year compared with the previous 12 months.

The emergency landing-fee waivers scheme at UK defence ministry airfields has been made permanent after a one-year trial. The AOPA UK-led scheme includes 37 military airfields in addition to 146 UK civilian airports waiving landing charges if an aircraft has a genuine emergency.

Source: Flight International