HOW NOT TO INFRINGE – TEN TOP TIPS
Airspace infringements continue to be one of the UK’s main aviation safety risks. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), through its Airspace Infringements Working Group, is currently working with industry to tackle the issue. The Group has issued a list of top ten tips to avoid an infringement:
1. Navigation is a skill which needs to be practised regularly, both in planning a flight and conducting it. Safety Sense Leaflet 5 (available on the CAA website and in the LASORS publication) contains good advice on VFR navigation, but it only works if you read and apply it!
2. If you plan a route through controlled airspace, remember that a crossing clearance may not always be possible and consider that route as your ‘secondary’ plan. Your primary plan should avoid controlled airspace - and don’t forget to make your overall time and fuel calculations using the longer, primary route!
3. Where possible, 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 of any sort can lead to an infringement – and it doesn’t take much to ruin your day!
4. Pilot workloads rise rapidly in less than ideal weather - and so do infringements. If the weather starts to deteriorate, consider your options early and if necessary divert or turn back in good time.
5. If you wish to transit controlled airspace, think about what you need to ask for in advance and call the appropriate Air Traffic Control (ATC) unit at least 10 nautical miles or five minutes flying time from the airspace boundary. This gives the controller time to plan ahead.
6. Thinking before you press the transmit switch and using the correct radio phraseology helps air traffic control to help you - and sounds more professional!
7. Be aware that ATC may be busy when you call them – just because the frequency doesn’t sound busy doesn’t mean that the controller isn’t busy on another frequency or on landlines.
8. Remember - the instruction ‘Standby’ means just that; it is not an ATC clearance and not even a precursor to a clearance. The controller is probably busy, so continue to plan to fly around the airspace. Only fly across the airspace if the controller issues a crossing clearance.
9. Your planned route through controlled airspace may appear simple on your chart but the traffic patterns within that airspace may make it unrealistic in practice. Be prepared for a crossing clearance which does not exactly match your planned route but which will allow you to transit safely.
10. Don’t be afraid to call ATC and use the transponder when lost or uncertain of your position - overcoming your embarrassment may prevent an infringement which may in turn prevent an Airprox (or worse).