• 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. 

    Legislative framework

    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.

    The 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.

    Flight planning requirements

    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 guidance in 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 be seen, and avoid

    See-and-avoid serves three functions in UK airspace:

    1. Self-separation of both IFR and VFR aircraft outside controlled airspace

    2. As a separation procedure for VFR aircraft flying in Class C and D airspace:

    • Class C, where VFR is separated from IFR traffic, and provided with traffic information;
    • Class D (for example, the UK’s CTRs and CTAs) where VFR traffic is not separated from other traffic but is passed traffic information on it; or
    • Separation between IFR and VFR traffic in Class E airspace, where IFR traffic is only passed traffic information about VFR flights and where VFR may operate without being in receipt of an air traffic service and must self-separate from all other traffic.

    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:

    • Effective visual scanning
    • The ability to gather information from radio transmissions from ground stations and other aircraft
    • Creating a mental picture of the traffic situation
    • The development of 'good airmanship'

    Links to further reading related to both see and avoid plus collision avoidance are included under Related Information at the foot of this page.

    Class D VMC requirements

    The UK’s exemption from SERA.5001 Class D VMC below 3000 ft expired at midnight 25/26 March 2020.  The UK applies the SERA.5001 VMC without variation, bringing the UK into line with ICAO Annex 2 (Rules of the Air) requirements that are applied elsewhere throughout the world.

    Manchester Low-Level Route (LLR)

    Procedures applicable to the Manchester LLR have been revised to reflect the expiry of the  exemption from SERA.5001 Class D VMC below 3000 ft.  Pending amendment of Manchester’s entry in the Aeronautical Information Publication (EGCC AD2.22), details can be found at www.ais.org.uk under ‘News’.  See also Official Record Series 4 No 1389 'Standardised European Rules of the Air – VFR and Special VFR Flights Within the Manchester Low Level Route'

    Further SERA Development

    Regulation (EU) 2020/469 of 14 February 2020 introduces a number of amendments to SERA, the vast majority of which will not take effect until 27 January 2022; supporting EASA Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material has yet to be published.  A summary of the SERA changes will be developed in due course.

    EU exit

    More detail concerning the work that the CAA is undertaking in relation to EU withdrawal can be found here.

    Relevant news