Aviation regulator issues guidance on sky lantern releases

Date: 01 February 2011

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued guidance on the release of sky lanterns in UK airspace. The growing popularity of releasing large number of sky lanterns at private or commercial events creates a potential hazard for aviation, in much the same way as mass balloon releases and firework displays. The CAA is calling on all organisers of sky lantern releases to register their event in advance so the CAA and aerodrome authorities can warn other airspace users of the possibility of encountering sky lanterns.

Sky lanterns, sometimes known as Chinese lanterns, vary in size and performance and when released can travel considerable distances at unpredictable heights on prevailing winds from the point of release. Sky lanterns can be ingested into the engines of airborne aircraft, or, as they fall to the ground, they have the potential to become debris on runways.

Information relating to the numbers of lanterns released, and the location of the events, are therefore very important when assessing any risk to other airspace users. Organisers of events that are ten miles or less from any aerodrome, or where significant numbers of lanterns are being released at any one time, need to be aware of the potential risks to aircraft. Event organisers are urged to refer to the CAA’s online guidance and then, if necessary, contact either the CAA or local aerodrome with details of the event.

Guidance on sky lanterns is contained in the updated version of Civil Aviation Publication 736, which also provides guidance on toy balloon releases, firework displays and the operation of lasers and searchlights.

For further media information contact the CAA Press Office on: 0207 453 6030; press.office@caa.co.uk

Notes to Editors:

The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure 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 from an economic standpoint.