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UK Civil Aviation Regulations

These are published by the CAA on our UK Regulations pages. EU Regulations and EASA Access Guides published by EASA no longer apply in the UK. Our website and publications are being reviewed to update all references. Any references to EU law and EASA Access guides should be disregarded and where applicable the equivalent UK versions referred to instead.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has delivered a package of improvements designed to clarify the airspace change process for airports, air navigation service providers and those affected by airspace change.

Graphic of various aircraft including drones, helicopters and aeroplanes flying or taking off at an airport
Graphic with various aircraft flying at an airport

The revised airspace change process, known as CAP1616, has been published today (30 October 2023) following a comprehensive review.

The new version will come into force on 2 January 2024. Further associated guidance will be published in due course.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority’s improvements focus on simplification, clarification, and proportionality of how the requirements of the process are applied to individual airspace change proposals depending on their size, scale and impact.

The regulator’s updated guidance will also make the airspace change process easier to follow and sets out the requirements of the stages and gateways needed to progress an airspace change proposal.

The review drew on insights received from those impacted by airspace change, including airspace change sponsors, commercial aircraft operators, the General Aviation community, community groups, environmental groups, and the Ministry of Defence.

Jon Round, Head of Airspace, Aerodromes and Air Traffic Management at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:

“Airspace change affects many communities across the country, so it is important that the process for proposing changes is clear, simple and proportionate in how it is applied.

“Our review has allowed us to reflect on feedback and deliver a package of improvements, so that those proposing airspace changes can more easily understand what they need to do to meet the requirements of the process.”

The way the UK Civil Aviation Authority makes airspace decisions is not changing, with the revised airspace change process and improved guidance clearly defining the requirements.

This makes it simpler for change sponsors and stakeholders to better understand what they need to do in the process, and the engagement airspace change sponsors have with stakeholders should be more focussed and meaningful.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has also made it clear how the guidance can be applied proportionately and tailored to each proposal put forward.

This is in addition to making it clear that any airspace change must be consistent with the Airspace Modernisation Strategy.

Notes to editors:

  • The revised CAP1616 airspace change process can be viewed on the UK Civil Aviation Authority website. Further associated guidance will be published in due course.
  • Airspace changes are alterations made to the existing airspace design, and can vary size, scale of impact and complexity. Some changes may have little noticeable impacts, while others may require a complex structuring of airspace with effects both for airspace users and the environment, including people on the ground impacted by noise. For example, changes could involve modifications to an airport’s departure and arrival routes, or the simplification of the routing of aircraft in a section of controlled airspace.
  • This airspace change process (CAP1616, version 5) will come into force on 2 January 2024. Any airspace change proposals commenced on or after that date will be assessed against the requirements of the process as described in this document. All change sponsors with airspace change proposals in process under CAP1616 (i.e., where an assessment meeting has already taken place) and in Stages 1-4, will be informed of the requirements that apply to their submissions and this will be published on the portal. The CAA aims to inform all change sponsors of such requirements by 30 November 2023. A full statement on the transition arrangements to version 5 can be found on the UK Civil Aviation Authority website.
  • The UK Civil Aviation Authority, as the UK’s independent aviation regulator, has primary responsibility for deciding whether to approve an Airspace Change Proposal to the notified airspace design over the UK. We make these decisions in accordance with the legal framework that requires us to consider certain factors which include safety, the environment, and the needs of users of airspace and government policy, including in accordance with the Airspace Modernisation Strategy.
  • The CAA has revised the airspace change process to ensure that it continues to meet modern standards for Regulatory Decision-making and is fair, transparent, consistent, and proportionate. The Airspace Change Process must be impartial and evidence-based and must take account of the needs and interests of all affected Stakeholders.