What has aroused readers' passion or ire?
There is an organisation in the UK called FASVIG (Future Airspace Strategy VFR Implementation Group) and I am a ‘Champion’; note the inverted commas! The team I am on has in the past made strenuous efforts to define within the UK certain areas that are Vfr-critical. The objective is to attempt to ensure that NATS and the CAA consider these areas very carefully before an aspiring airport with exaggerated traffic figures tries to grab a chunk of airspace to itself. Other organisations, such as AOPA, are also objecting to airspace grabs.
FASVIG consulted with the German DFS earlier this year on how they handle VFR traffic in Class D airspace. They do a lot better than us but, as usual, the end result of consultation resulted in just a paper being produced.
I fly in France frequently and, to the newbie, it looks like there is a frightening amount of controlled airspace. Vast chunks are Class D airspace and you can imagine the novice pilot who has tried to transit UK Class D airspace being totally phased by the prospect of flying in France. Many of us know of poor Class D UK airspace; one my particular gripes is with Southampton who cunningly deny you a transit by asking you to standby until you get to the point where you need to divert around their Class D airspace. I have never been denied a Class D transit in France although, yes, sometimes I have been asked to ascend/descend or route slightly differently within the airspace. It is also not uncommon to be routed close to IFR traffic with an informal Class C separation. It works. Air Traffic Controllers give the same service to all no matter what you are flying.
So the fundamental solution in the UK is to ensure, like France, that Class D is open to all, all the time for those who have radio. What do we gain? Firstly, improved safety: faster aircraft are mostly radio-equipped so they get separated into a more controlled environment. Secondly, aircraft are not funnelled into corridors and can route more directly to their destination (‘Open Skies’ ring a bell?) Thirdly, ATC can cope: they do so admirably in France in congested areas of GA traffic, commercial and military e.g. Provence and along the coast. They even give you a Traffic service not some piddling Basic Service that is Basic by nature and Basic in practice.
So the NATS/CAA response is to now ask us to file online a pre-clearance for Class D airspace. Pathetic, get real.