Airspace-infringing pilots may have their licences suspended by the CAA
Pilots who infringe Controlled Airspace could have their licences provisionally suspended while the incident is assessed, the CAA has announced. The decision is the Authority’s latest attempt to reduce the number of infringements occurring in UK airspace, which remain ‘worryingly high’ despite previous attempts by the CAA, ATC service providers and GA representative bodies to tackle this serious safety issue. Last year more than 1,000 infringements were reported to the CAA.
Under a new process, pilots who are identified as having infringed Controlled Airspace, a Danger Area or Restricted Area, could have their licence or licences provisionally suspended, while the details of the incident are investigated and follow-up action considered. “The CAA is committed to delivering a speedy resolution to any investigation, and will only impose a suspension for as long as necessary,” it says.
Details of new infringements received by the CAA are assessed on a weekly basis by a team made up of in-house pilots, investigators and air traffic controllers. If an incident is deemed to reach a certain level of seriousness, then the licence of the pilot involved will be provisionally suspended until further notice. The criteria used to determine the level of seriousness of a particular infringement can be viewed at caa.co.uk/cap1404 Depending on the outcome of the subsequent follow-up action, the Authority will make a decision about lifting the provisional suspension.
“The CAA has always acknowledged that the majority of infringement events are unintentional,” it says, “but some do have a significant impact on operations inside controlled airspace. All events, however, carry some risk. Some events clearly show inadequate pre-flight planning, poor airmanship, or insufficient pilot knowledge. In a few cases, a deliberate intention to fly into controlled airspace has been found, and there have been instances of multiple infringements by the same pilot. It is likely that in these circumstances pilots will have their licences suspended.” However, it notes that “the CAA will continue to focus on tackling infringements through education and training and opt for provisional suspension or legal enforcement in more serious cases.”
Following a recent serious incident at the beginning of the flying season, when a Red Arrows display was severely disrupted because of an infringement, the CAA has provisionally suspended the licence of the private pilot involved.