Airspace infringements are one of the UK’s main aviation safety risks. The CAA has issued the following advice on avoiding one (Safety Sense Leaflet 5)
Ten Top Tips (which will only work if you apply them!)
1. Navigation is a skill needing regular practice, both in planning a flight and conducting it.
2. If you plan a route through controlled airspace, a crossing clearance may not always be possible, so consider that route as your secondary plan. Your primary plan should avoid controlled airspace
3. Try to avoid planning to fly close to controlled airspace boundaries. If you do need to do so, be very careful. A small navigational error or distraction can lead to an infringement; it doesn’t take much to ruin your day!
4. Pilot workload rises rapidly when weather starts to deteriorate, so consider your options early and if necessary divert or turn back in good time.
5. If you wish to transit controlled airspace, call ATC at least five minutes flying time from the boundary to give the controller time to plan ahead.
6. Think before you call and use the correct radio phraseology. This helps ATC to help you - and sounds more professional!
7. Be patient with ATC when you call. Jjust because you don’t get an immediate response doesn’t mean that the controller isn’t busy on another frequency or landline.
8. Remember, the instruction ‘Standby’ means just that; the controller is probably busy so continue to plan to fly around the airspace. Only fly across the airspace when cleared.
9. Your planned route may appear simple on your chart, but current traffic may make it unrealistic in practice. Be prepared for a clearance which might not match your planned route exactly but will allow you to transit safely.
10. Don’t hesitate to call ATC and use the transponder when lost or uncertain of position. This may prevent an infringement and in turn an Airprox (or worse).