[Avionics Today 06-25-2015] The United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is looking to cut the number of serious airspace infringements at six of the highest risk air traffic zones in the U.K by as much as 50 percent over the next 12 months. Working teams, made up of local pilots, airport operators, air traffic controllers and CAA representatives, in each of the hotspots, have agreed on the targets and committed to delivering the reductions through improvements to current procedures by December 2015.
The six hotspots, which account for a significant proportion of the annual UK total, are: Birmingham, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Southampton and Stansted.
The new strategy follows significant efforts over a number of years to educate general aviation pilots on how to avoid infringing controlled airspace, danger areas and temporarily restricted airspace. However, despite such campaigns, by the Airspace & Safety Initiative (ASI) and others, infringement rates have shown no significant decline over the last 10 years.
Failure to achieve the target could see the future introduction of Surveillance Mandatory Zones (SMZ) to provide a conspicuity buffer around particular hotspot, according to the CAA.
The aim of the SMZ will be to provide a known traffic environment around the hotspot’s class D airspace. This could lead to a requirement for the mandatory use of radios and/or transponders in that buffer area. Other options, such as rationalizing airspace boundaries, are also a potential solution.