SERA is the transposition into law of ICAO Annex 2 (Rules of the Air) and parts of ICAO Annex 3 (Meteorology), Annex 10 (Communication Procedures), Annex 11 (Air Traffic Services) and Doc 4444 (PANS-ATM). Pilots, air traffic controllers, flight information service officers, aerodrome operators and anyone else involved in the operation of aircraft need to understand of the rules.
SERA applies to every aircraft operating in UK airspace regardless of type or state of registration. But as the rules do not cover all aspects of the Rules of the Air, Member States may keep supplementary rules that complement SERA. They may also permit routine operations such as VFR flight at night, and grant exemptions from SERA’s requirements.
The UK publishes its supplementary rules in the form of The Rules of the Air Regulations 2015. They took effect on 30 April 2015 and are supported by permissions and general exemptions that preserve certain legacy operational flexibilities to the greatest possible degree.
Air Navigation Order is aligned with SERA.
We publish a consolidation of the Air Navigation Order, the Rules of the Air regulations and other legislation in
CAP393 Air Navigation: The Order and Regulations.
The Rules of the Air are reflected in the United Kingdom Aeronautical Information Publication and its supporting Aeronautical Information Circulars, available here.
While SERA stipulates when a flight plan is required (e.g. SERA.5005(c) for VFR flight at night leaving the vicinity of an aerodrome) it is important to note that it doesn’t prescribe the means by which a flight plan is to be submitted. In this respect there is no change to the current
CAP694 or the UK AIP (although that guidance will be reviewed). So, for example, abbreviated/air-filed flight plans will continue to apply in certain circumstances, a 'paper' flight plan is not always required, and SERA doesn’t affect how a flight plan may be filed.
You can read
more detail on how CAP694's guidance continues to apply, together with indications as to where CAP694 is likely to evolve to better reflect SERA content.
See-and-avoid serves three functions in UK airspace:
1. Self-separation of aircraft outside controlled airspace
2. As a separation procedure for VFR aircraft flying in controlled airspace:
3. Last resort separation if other methods fail to prevent a confliction, regardless of the nature of the airspace.
It is important to distinguish between 'unalerted' and 'alerted' see-and-avoid. In alerted see-and avoid, the pilot of an aircraft in controlled airspace is assisted by means of traffic information to sight the traffic. Unalerted see-and-avoid, on the other hand, relies entirely on the ability of the pilot to sight other aircraft.
Effective see and avoid requires the application of:
Links to further reading related to both see and avoid plus collision avoidance are included under Related Information at the foot of this page.
In 2019 the CAA consulted industry on changes to UK VMC minima requirements in class D airspace in order to fully align with both ICAO and SERA requirements.
Following the CAA’s consultation, the Secretary of State for Transport agreed to extend the existing exemption from elements of the Class D VMC (Official Record Series No.1312: Standardised European Rules of the Air - Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) Visibility and Distance from Cloud Minima within Class D Airspace) until 25 March 2020. This was in acknowledgement of the comments made about the proposed change, in particular from the GA community.
The exemption expires at midnight 25/26 March 2020, thereafter the UK will apply the SERA.5001 VMC without variation. This brings the UK into line with ICAO Annex 2 (Rules of the Air) requirements that are applied elsewhere throughout the world.
The changes are detailed in the CAA Consolidation of SERA, The Rules of the Air, Permissions and Exemptions updated 20 March 2020 (effective 26 March 2020) – see link below.
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