Aviation relies on the scarce resource that is airspace to ensure that GA, airline passengers, businesses and the military enjoy the many benefits aviation brings.
Our role is to ensure that the UK's airspace is safe and that the requirements of all airspace users are taken into account and that the airspace system meets the government's environmental objectives.
As well as the day-to-day oversight of airspace we also make decisions on applications to change the country's airspace structure.
The UKs core airspace structure is now over forty years old. As expected there have been significant changes and we’ve seen a surge in demand for aviation. This requires constant development of our airspace strategy.
This is by no means restricted to the UK. In order to meet the changing needs of airspace and air traffic control and to address aviation on a larger scale the Single European Sky project was created. In-keeping with this, we are addressing airspace issues in the UK and Ireland with the Future Airspace Strategy, which is dedicated to the modernisation of airspace by 2020.
FAS seeks to address the future needs of all airspace users, not just commercial aviation flights in controlled airspace. To achieve this aim the FAS VFR Implementation Group (FASVIG) is responsible for developing the strategy for non-commercial and military aviation. The group includes sports, recreational, military and business aviation stakeholders, CAA, NATS and industry representatives who are working to help improve VFR operations. Part of the FAS project includes work to look at the future of class G (uncontrolled airspace).
As airspace becomes more coordinated on a Europe-wide basis the rules on using airspace are also being coordinated into Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA). Most UK rules will remain but there are some changes.
One of the main airspace safety risks currently being tackled is airspace infringements - where an aircraft enters, normally controlled airspace, without coordination. You can read more about this at Airspace Safety and Fly on Track.