The Bristol Airport Lower Airspace Radar Service (LARS) is to close at the end of February, it was announced today by Bristol Airport and NATS.
Until now, NATS Bristol has provided LARS between the hours of 10.00 and 18.00, but as the commercial operation at Bristol Airport continues to grow the decision has been taken to focus on the primary task of service delivery to flights within controlled airspace.
Steve O’Donoghue, the NATS general manager at Bristol Airport tower, said: “This isn’t a decision that’s been taken lightly, but having been assured that we are meeting the CAA’s requirements, we have regretfully come to the conclusion that there is no other feasible option but to close the LARS service.
“We believe this will strike the best balance between maintaining the best possible access to controlled airspace for all users, while at the same time recognising the sustained traffic growth the airport is seeing.”
Bristol Airport saw 73,536 aircraft movements in 2016, up 8% on the previous year.
LARS were originally introduced in 1979 as a voluntary scheme to provide an air traffic service to general aviation pilots flying in the vicinity of airfields that didn’t enjoy the protection of controlled airspace. Given Bristol now has its own control zone that segregates arriving and departing flights from traffic operating in Class G airspace, the LARS has outlived it’s original purpose.
Although Bristol LARS will close on Wednesday 28 February, a number of alternative services will remain available to pilots. There are multiple nearby LARS units with overlapping areas of coverage, including Cardiff, Brize Radar, Boscombe Down, Yeovilton and Bournemouth during notified hours. A 24 hour Basic Service is also available from London Information.
Steve concludes: “While LARS is closing, all pilots are still able to request access to controlled airspace, and we strongly encourage all pilots to continue to use Bristol’s listening squawk of 5077 and maintain a listening watch on 125.650 MHz whenever they are operating in the vicinity of Bristol CAS.”
Listening Squawks: Changes for some ATC Units, and new ATC Units involved
With immediate effect: Six ATC units (3 pairs close together) around London and the south which have shared 3 listening squawks with their close neighbouring unit for a number of years have stopped sharing to allow faster contact with the pilot if necessary. Initially announced by NOTAM before AIP update later. from Sept 14th onwards, Southampton gets 7011 (from 0011), Gatwick gets 7012 (from 0012), Stansted gets 7013 (from 0013). Their old partners remain as today, namely Bournemouth 0011, Thames Radar 0012, Luton 0013.
Brand New to the Scheme: Brize – use 3727 whilst montioring 119.0 MHz outside the CTR Southend – use 5050 whilst monitoring 130.775 MHz outside the CTR/CTA Liverpool – use 5060 whilst monitoring 119.850 MHz outside the CTR
it isn’t only controlled airspace where infringements cause problems. This Airprox (PDF) shows the dangers of unannounced ATZ entry.
Prosecution for Manchester Infringement
The CAA released this press release about a prosecution of a pilot who infringed Manchester airspace apparently without any form of air chart.
Freephone for info on daily Airspace Upgrades, RoF, Change
The number giving airspace upgrades, Restrictions of Flying, etc, has changed from 0500-354802 to 08085-354802 (free under most UK phone plans). Also, the normal landline number for it is now 01489-887515
Upcoming RoF AICs to be published, known as of mid July 2017
These are the Restriction of Flying just very recently approved or in the pipeline to be approved. The is NOT a list of all existing restrictions of flying, to see that, go to the AIS website and look for Mauve AICs
Keep an eye on others that may be notified by AIC and/or NOTAM, and also on the day via the restriction and airspace upgrade freephone 08085-354802 or normal landline 01489-887515 – note new numbers!
SERA update (Standardised European Rules of the Air)
The UK CAA continues to work on certain UK differences from SERA with the DfT, EU, and Easa. More info, especially current exemptions can be found in the ORS4 index, www.caa.co.uk/ors4 – just search for “Standardised” in the title list.
A change involves flying VFR (or not) in Class D at or below 3000′ amsl, with the need to remain 1000′ vertically from cloud to be VFR (along with the usual 5km minimum vis) instead of simply clear of cloud and in sight of surface. (Transiting aircraft, pilot can decide on conditions.) See UK SERA Implementation
Base of X-Channel Airway Q41 to be raised from 27th May ’17
The Class A airway between Solent Airspace and Jersey Zone will be raised from FL035 to FL055 from 27th May 2017, allowing higher VFR flights in the class G underneath.
NATS Releases Speeded Up Video of Disruption Effects of 2 Infringements
The video shows in succession the disruption caused by two separate infringements where a GA pilot in a light aircraft disrupted arrivals and departures at some of our busiest airports. Can it be said ‘no-one was hurt in these incidents’? It is true in one sense thanks to the well trained controllers, no-one on the aircraft was injured, but what about the stress on the controllers themselves? View incidents here
‘Listening Squawks’ (Monitoring Codes) – New Graphic Available
Listening Squawks (officially ‘Frequency Monitoring Codes’) are in use around the UK. They allow a pilot who is passing certain ATSUs (ATC units) to listen in (without making any announcement) to a specific local frequency and then self select a pre-defined transponder code, set ALT, and to show the radar controller that the pilot is monitoring the frequency. This will allow the controller to easily contact the pilot in case of accidental infringement. NB: – you don’t say anything whilst using the scheme, and you deselect the code for something more suitable (e.g. 7000) should you move to another frequency or if you decide to turn the volume down.
That you announce you are on frequency. You do NOT. Monitor actually means LISTEN don’t speak.
That you are under any formal service. You are not, you are not even under a Basic Service. If you think you will be warned of other traffic, you are mistaken. By using the squawk, you are saying that you do NOT want warning of anything unless you accidentally stray into airspace you should not be in.
That you can enter controlled airspace. You cannot, if fact, by using the squawk, you are confirming that you will NOT be entering such airspace.
The current list of listening squawks around the UK is (always with Mode C/ALT when you have it):
Concern over Increase in Channel Islands and Bristol Infringements
Bristol very concerned about a sudden ‘four in ten days’ hit on infringements potentially putting traffic at risk (but for controller intervention). Please take (even) extra care with airspace bases/boundaries near Bath, Hullavington and Burnham-on-sea and make sure you are flying with a 2016 chart and, and understand properly any software products in use. Bristol Pictorial VFR Guide is here
Jersey ATC report an unwanted increase in infringements, please make sure you read the info on the Channel Islands Control Zone (CICZ) before heading that way. The website is also included in the links sub-page here under airspace guides.
Bristol LARS hour change, plus pictorial guide update
Bristol LARS new service hours have changed to 1000-1800 (local) from March 1st 2016, at other times a service will only be provided to aircraft in/out and transiting Bristol, or other agencies by arrangement. The new pictorial guide, well worth reading, is here: FLY ON TRACK,amended 01Mar2016
Warton/Blackpool – do you know the difference?
Amazingly, Warton are getting some landings there for pilots who think they are landing at Blackpool. They are quite a few miles apart, the runways are dissimilar directions, and Warton has a distinct river running more or less E-W past it. So to try and publicise the problem, there is a new video….
Norwich VFR Airspace Guide Updated Jan 2016
The VFR guide (photos, advice etc) for pilots in the vicinity of Norwich CTA and CTR has been updated. The new version here, which can also be found on the FlyOnTrack links page with the other guides for airspace around the country.
Prosecution for London Heathrow CTR infringement
In case you were wondering, not many infringements lead to an actual court case, most end up with an agreed solution, such as a little retraining. However it does happen… CAA prosecution of infringement
UK VORs – Replacement/Withdrawal Programme
The current VORs in the UK infrastructure is under review, no longer in use by airlines except for emergency fall-back procedures. The current 46 VORs may be progressively reduced to 19 (newly equipped) VORs over the next few years as each comes up for renewal, all existing ones having already exceeded their operational lives. This strategy was presented to the aviation organisations in 2008 via NATMAC and accepted. Any DMEs associated with VORs will remain, and the current positions of any removed VORs will be marked with waypoints or IFR reporting points to aid GNSS training and navigation.
Latest notification concerns Clacton VOR which will be off-air from 4th January 2017 for 3-4 months as new modern equipment is installed. The DME will be off too. Clued Up Magazine, available online here, contains good advice on Human Factors and avoiding Controlled Flight into Terrain, and also the details of the VOR Replacement Programme (page 26).
Targets Set for Reduction In Infringements at Key Hotspots
Teams from local pilots, air traffic controllers, and the CAA have been set up in an attempt to reduce infringements numbers and risk around known hotspots at Birmingham, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Southampton, and Stansted. Targets have been set for reductions in 2015, with the possibility of “Surveillance Mandatory Zones” in the vicinity of high risk areas of Class D airspace should improvements in the infringement situation not be achieved. To read the official announcement, Click Here
SERA – Standardised European Rules of the Air – Summary
A two page summary of the Standardised Rules of the Air ‘SERA’ changes is available here on FlyOnTrack – it’s easy to read, and covers visibility changes, quadrantal rules becoming semicircular and exemptions and more: See SERA
Low Level Common VHF Frequency in Scotland
Remote Scotland is trialing a Low Level Common VHF Frequency to compliment “See and Avoid” with “Hear and Avoid”. The CAA has given approval for all aviators to extend the use of SafetyCom’s VHF frequency 135.475 to 2,000′ AGL and below anywhere in uncontrolled airspace north of 56*N (Helensburgh to Falkirk). An AIC will be published reflecting this information in due course, in the meantime, click here: Scotland135475Trial for a pdf information poster which could be put on club noticeboards
Southend: Controlled Airspace started 2nd Apr ’15
Pilots with last year’s quarter mil chart for the Southend area (number 8), your new edition comes out late April, so for details of the new controlled airspace, see the appendices to this CAA decision letter
Pilots planning and maintaining cockpit equipment need to be aware that:
A requirement for an 8.33 MHz spacing radio is coming – see this article by the LAA
A project to reduce the number of VORs in the UK down to 19 has already started but will progress over the next few years. Cranfield was the first VOR to be removed under this programme, more are being assessed, information will be announced here.
Clued Up Magazine now online
The CAA’s Clued Up magazine, including article on preflight planning, licensing advice and many safety topics for the private pilot are available online, but they are large downloads if that matters to you – for the list of those available, click on ‘Clued Up’ here on the ASI downloads page
2014 Farnbrough LARS Guide (incl. Stansted TMZ advice)
Farnborough published a new LARS guide for 2014, well worth reading – remember that their LARS a massive area all round London, North beyond Duxford, almost to Lashenden in the East, Beachy Head in the South, and nearly to Membury in the West. It also covers advice for the Stansted TMZ. It will be on the links page when it drops from Hot News. See 2014 LARS from Farnbrough Guide – Remember if passing through the Farnborough West region (See guide), Farnborough West’s trial with a monitoring code or ‘listening squawk’ (4572 / 125.250 MHz) was successful, and the arrangement is now permanent.
Farnborough occasionally has short period (usually one hour duration) of temporary controlled airspace (CAS(T)) announced by NOTAM and on the restrictions/upgrades freephone number 08085-354802. CTR dimensions, shape, and the airway route and base levels changed fairly dramatically in 2011 – see AIC Yellow 99 of 2011 – they were Class A, they are now Class D, so VFR clearances can be negotiated with the controller. Here’s a link to the AIC ‘home page’, choose yellow AICs, then number 99 of 2011 (no permanent direct link exists)
Infringements Can Be Costly
It’s very rare that a prosecution for an infringement is reported in the press, but here is a link to an infringement of the Stansted Class D, TMZ, and Luton Class D. This fortunately did not result in a collision, but still attracted a large fine due to the risk and disruption. The learning point is simple – pilots are encouraged to call D&D on 121.5 MHz (or tell the ATC service provider they are using, if any), as soon as they safely can if they are ‘temporarily unsure of position’ in an area of a route known to have Controlled Airspace, TMZs, Danger Areas, etc. nearby. Why prolong the worry and stress for yourself when someone is paid to help locate you.
The CAA list of successful prosecutions 2012 is now published here confirming that very few infringements reach court, the authorities are very open to agreeing solutions (eg: some Nav retraining) before it reaches that stage, if the case merits it.
VFR Chart Frequency Card now as a download
Frequency Reference Cards are available to pilots exclusively as a digital downloadhere. The downloadable cards have replaced the traditional hard copy versions which came with aircharts.
Analysis of Pilot Surveys Following Infringements
Why do pilots infringe? A lot of work has been going on with analysis of data provided by pilots who have infringed NATS controlled airspace over the past couple of years. The first public release of the analysis is now available on Analysis of Pilots Surveys Release 1. (Also available on the ‘Statistics’ tag of this site.)
More Local Initiatives (and an Award)
City Airport (Barton) and Mainair Flying School have been awarded a NATS Infringement Prevention Award – they are situated very close to Manchester airspace and the Low Level Route. One of the things they have done, relevant to anyone flying anywhere near Controlled Airspace is a video about a not-uncommon event – following the wrong line feature. See Barton Infringement Award and Video Tayside Aviation Following the local poster initiative from Sleap, Tayside Aviation have produced softcloth ipad/GPS screen wipes for their pilots which detail local airspace on one side and tips from FlyOnTrack on the other. See Screenwipes from Tayside Aviation
Please let us know any similar initiatives
New Stansted TMZ ‘info sheet’ plus Farnborough LARS Map
Since 2009, Stansted has had a TMZ (Transponder Mandatory Zone) in the Class G airspace under the stubs of the CTA. A new info sheet has been produced for flying in the Stansted Transponder Mandatory Zone – see Transponder Mandatory Zone for Stansted
These will remain available on the LINKS page after the news item is removed.
Video Clip Help for Flying Under the LTMA
Video Clip help from NATS for visual flying around London, plus the pictorial airspace guides around the UK. There’s a new resource from NATS for anyone flying visually in the London area (link updated 18/1/2013): vfr.airspacesafety.com
Just pick the leg or legs encircling London and up between Stansted and Luton which interest you, and you get a short video brief and see the flight itself and specific landmarks on the way. So if you were thinking of flying (say) Oxfordshire to Kent, you could link legs from Thame through to Sevenoaks via Henley and Guildford. Also, you can click on specific airspace areas around the UK and view picture pdf guides written by local controllers who are usually pilots themselves. And don’t forget the NATS endorsement of an airspace warning device – moving map CAA chart, free airspace data downloads, warnings of airspace, and ‘locator’ information, all for around £150. See www.airspaceaware.com/