Robert Nash (37) from near Weymouth, Dorset, admitted flying without permission through airspace closed off over Torbay for an air show and was fined £1,200 with £750 costs to the CAA after coming within 100 metres of a jet heading to the display area.
The chairman of the bench told the Exeter court on November 29th, that the pilot's failure to use a GPS was a significant factor in this serious incident, where he breached restricted airspace put in place to protect other pilots and the public.
Each year more than 1,100 airspace infringements take place in the UK including aircraft flying in areas zoned off for displays, areas of controlled airspace or areas immediately around airfields and airports.
An estimated three out of every four pilots involved were not using GPS navigation. If some form of GPS navigation was used more widely, we believe around 85 per cent of these incidents could have been prevented.
We issue NOTAMS (Notice to Airmen) to inform flyers of any important changes to airspace, such as areas closed for flying displays. The 30,000 or so general aviation pilots in the UK know to check for these notifications before they take to the air.
NOTAMS and accompanying charts can now be programmed into 'moving map' (GPS displays), giving pilots even more confidence in the cockpit. The CAA will be reiterating its support for this affordable equipment with a major safety campaign in 2019.
Had the pilot in this case used a GPS moving map showing up-to-date NOTAM information, his flying may well have been textbook.
The facts show that having a GPS moving map in the cockpit - while still keeping a good lookout - will increase the safety of your flight and significantly reduce the chance of infringing airspace.