Farn­bor­ough furore

Pilot - - Airmail - 1. 2. 3. Paul Tol­hurst by email

I have read the ar­ti­cles and cor­re­spon­dence con­cern­ing the grad­ual ero­sion of Class G airspace with both in­ter­est and grow­ing ir­ri­ta­tion. I am a pretty ba­sic recre­ational pilot with a PPL and IMC, so I am not claim­ing to be an ex­pert.

I fly from (Lon­don) Big­gin Hill air­port. This means if I fly north I en­counter (Lon­don) City airspace, north-east (Lon­don) Southend, nor’-nor’-east (Lon­don) Stansted, nor’-nor’-west (Lon­don) Lu­ton, north-west (Lon­don) Heathrow, and south-west (Lon­don) Gatwick. If I fly sou’-sou’-west things change, I find So­lent airspace where at last we run out of the pre­fix (Lon­don) – un­less Eastleigh is ac­tu­ally (Lon­don) Southamp­ton. I think you get the pic­ture. The only way for me to en­joy un­con­trolled airspace is to fly through the 10nm ‘col­li­sion cor­ri­dors’ be­tween the con­trolled airspace, stooge around Kent and Sus­sex, or do the sen­si­ble thing and fly to France where they seem not to put up with tin­pot lit­tle aero­dromes call­ing the shots. Class D ex­ists in France, but there is no drama if GA wants to en­ter the airspace in the way I ex­pe­ri­ence in UK. My so­lu­tion to the growth in Class D is a three point plan: All Class B,C,D,E, Fair space al­lo­ca­tions hould be made on the ba­sis that transpon­der-equipped GA have an en­ti­tle­ment to en­ter the airspace un­less there is a spe­cific safety con­cern. In the event that a GA air­craft is re­fused ac­cess to the airspace, ATC should be re­quired to sub­mit a writ­ten re­port to CAA and to the owner of the air­craft, ex­plain­ing why en­try was re­fused. There may be le­git­i­mate rea­sons, ATC han­dling a May­day, or just that the pilot of the GA air­craft was a bum­bling fool and gave ev­ery im­pres­sion that s/he could cause ma­jor prob­lems. In the lat­ter case, a tran­script of the ra­dio calls would be re­quired as sup­port­ing ev­i­dence.

Al­lo­ca­tion of Class D sta­tus would come with the stip­u­la­tion that ATC ser­vices are pro­vided to meet point 1. This means built in re­dun­dancy. An air­port op­er­a­tor could not use ‘ATC work­load’ as a rea­son to ex­clude GA. They should as­sess peak work­load and then add a safety fac­tor to that staffing re­quire­ment to en­sure they have suf­fi­cient con­trollers. Af­ter all, the re­dun­dancy con­cept is built into al­most ev­ery as­pect of avi­a­tion for safety.

Now the con­tro­ver­sial bit… The CAA should charge the air­port op­er­a­tor for ev­ery cu­bic me­tre of airspace they wish to ‘lease’. This would change the par­a­digm. The CAA would look at air­craft move­ments at, say, Farn­bor­ough, and based on the 120 or so move­ments per day may con­clude Class D is re­quired for safety rea­sons, and that a sub­stan­tial charge would be raised. The air­port op­er­a­tor would want to min­imise this ad­di­tional cost. They may look at the per­for­mance of the air­craft likely to be us­ing the air­port and could pro­pose the small­est pos­si­ble con­trolled airspace foot­print. The CAA may ac­cept or re­ject such a pro­posal, again on safety grounds.

I recog­nise that land­ing fees would rise at all these air­ports to cover the ad­di­tional costs. Also that there is a risk the CAA would milk this new cash cow dry by im­pos­ing a charge on all air­field ATZS. But in my ex­pe­ri­ence when there is a cost busi­ness gets in­no­va­tive. When some­thing is free they get sloppy and com­pla­cent.

So, there you are – Class D airspace as small as safety will al­low, the CAA gets more cash and so can re­duce some other charges to the avi­a­tion com­mu­nity (ha ha!) and GA can ex­pect full ac­cess to the smaller con­trolled ar­eas in all but very ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances. As I said, I am no ex­pert and per­haps my plan has some flaws, but we need to get cre­ative oth­er­wise SMES like Farn­bor­ough are go­ing to steam­roller us. Maybe the new All Party Par­lia­men­tary Group on GA will con­sider such ideas?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.