If an organisation wishes to propose a permanent change to the UK airspace structure they must submit an airspace change proposal to us. These go through our airspace change process which contains a number of stages to be completed before the proposal is submitted to us for a decision.
Consulting with local communities
As part of this process the organisation considering the change (normally an airport or air traffic control body) will engage with local communities that may be affected. For example, that engagement might be through an existing airport consultative committee, through local representative bodies or a bespoke stakeholder consultation.
The level of engagement will depend on the anticipated impact of the change proposed. The airspace change process does not require that every person affected is directly consulted but airports and air traffic control organisations will engage with local authorities and possibly Parish Councils depending on the proposed change.
If the airport or air traffic control body decides to pursue their application for an airspace change once they have completed the consultation and considered its outcome, they must then provide us with the results of their consultation and engagement which will we will factor into our decision as to whether the change goes ahead.
The decision process
If an airspace change proposal is submitted to us for a decision we insist that the airport or air traffic control body has recorded, acknowledged, considered and if appropriate acted upon your comment, and a record of these actions and any subsequent outcomes has been included with the submission. A sponsor can consider individual comments as related, and while they should still be individually acknowledged, recorded and considered, any resulting response or action may be a collective one.
If you have comments about a current consultation on an airspace change then they should be made to the airport or air traffic control body considering proposing the change. If any comments are sent to us prior to the airspace change proposal being submitted to us for a decision we will log these and send them on to the airport or air traffic control body carrying out the consultation.
In making our decision on whether any permanent change to the UK airspace structure will go ahead safety is our first priority. In addition we are tasked by Government with making sure the UK’s airspace is used efficiently and developed to meet future demands and that in making our decision we do so in accordance with our statutory obligations including taking into account the Secretary of State for Transport’s guidance on environmental objectives. We consider all the information supplied to us by the airport or air traffic control body proposing the change including the results of consultations and information on the needs of all airspace users.
If a change to UK airspace structure is approved we will publish our decision on our dedicated pages. You can find decisions on airspace change proposals developed under the previous process (CAP 725) or under the CAP 1616 process on the CAA portal.
Reviews of permanent changes
All changes are reviewed after implementation. This is called a post implementation review. This assesses whether the change has had the expected impacts and benefits and what should happen if it hasn't.
The review cannot reverse an airspace change decision, this can only be achieved by another airspace change proposal.
Specific events or operating conditions may sometimes require a temporary change to the notified airspace design to introduce new controlled airspace arrangements or modifications to the existing structure or routes.40 Because it is still a change to the notified airspace design, a temporary change requires the CAA’s approval before it is implemented.
The temporary airspace arrangement will usually apply for a period of no longer than 90 days, after which the airspace will revert back to its original form. Should a change be required for longer than 90 days, or should we receive a request to repeat a temporary change that has previously been in effect for 90 days, an airspace change proposal will normally be needed. In extraordinary circumstances, the CAA may consider approving an extension beyond 90 days.
The distinction from an airspace trial should be noted. A temporary airspace change is used to meet a need for a specific event or operating conditions for a short period. An airspace trial is where innovative airspace design, technologies or air traffic control operational procedures are being trialed or their performance and effect is being tested.
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