A helicopter pilot who illegally entered controlled airspace, causing disruption to flights at London Heathrow Airport, has been successfully prosecuted by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Christopher Kiley was flying from Wycombe Air Park to Cliveden House, Buckinghamshire, when he entered the London Control Zone, without air traffic control clearance, just after 1pm on 30 April, this year.

The infringement was spotted by air traffic controllers at NATS, Swanwick, who were alerted by radar to the presence of an unexpected aircraft in the zone. As a result, air traffic control was forced to temporarily halt all northbound departures at London Heathrow Airport.

The aircraft flew southwest and up to two miles inside controlled airspace, descending to 300ft. The aircraft disappeared from radar at 1.06pm and departures at the airport were allowed to resume.

Kiley told the CAA he had been to Wycombe for a flight test, before deciding to fly to Cliveden House for lunch. He explained he had been given directions to Cliveden House, but did not have co-ordinates. In addition he said he had been listening to air traffic control but it was extremely busy and, as the landing area was in view, he decided to land his helicopter. He further admitted he should have waited for clearance and apologised for his misjudgement.

Kiley, aged 62, of Caswell, Swansea, pleaded guilty via post, to one count of entering Class D airspace in the vicinity of London Heathrow Airport without air traffic control clearance, in contravention of the Air Navigation Order 2009.

At Uxbridge Magistrates' Court, on Tuesday October 27, 2015, the court was told Kiley had two previous convictions for aviation offences.

Kiley, who did not attend, was fined £1,700, order to pay costs of £600, a victim surcharge of £120 and a court user charge of £150.

CAA prosecutor, Alison Slater, said: “When a pilot infringes controlled airspace the CAA has a number of options it can use including further training, however in the most serious cases we can and do prosecute.

“Airspace infringements, no matter how short lived, can cause significant disruption and the knock-effects could means hours of delays to thousands of people.

“Every pilot should know and abide by the rules of the air and we expect all pilots to plan their journeys well in advance and follow the regulations.”

The London Control Zone is an area of Class D airspace, which surrounds London Heathrow Airport and is one the world's busiest airspaces. No aircraft can enter the zone without clearance from air traffic control.

For more information, please contact the CAA Press Office on press.office@caa.co.uk or 020 7453 6030. You can follow the CAA on Twitter @UK_CAA.

Note to Editors

  1. The Civil Aviation Authority is tasked by the Department for Transport to investigate and prosecute breaches of aviation safety rules and some aviation related consumer protection and health and safety requirements.
  2. It is in the public interest that those who comply with aviation rules have confidence that those rules are enforced.
  3. Prosecution is one means by which the CAA ensures that the aviation rules for which it is responsible are properly observed and appropriately enforced.
  4. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: ensuring that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy.