How to keep safe and legal in the Solent area
Members of the Solent Local Airspace Infringement Team (LAIT) have drawn up ‘10 Golden Rules’ of good advice to help pilots avoid infringing notified airspace. Since 2015, local organisations that include Bournemouth, Goodwood, Old Sarum, RAF Odiham, Popham, Solent and Southampton aerodromes, and the Aerodrome Owners Association, CAA and NATS, have been working to reduce the number of airspace infringements in Southampton/ Solent controlled airspace, and have published advice written by an active GA pilot that is based not only on good practice but also on many of the causal factors which lead to airspace infringements. The airspace around Southampton Airport remains one of the most infringed in the UK, with more than sixty incidents in a recent twelvemonth period.
LAIT says: ‘Hotspots include the CTAS to the north and south due to pilots flying too high, or on the wrong altimeter setting. Caution must be taken when flying along the Solent (CTA-2 base 2,000ft Solent QNH) or in the vicinity of Winchester (CTR extending from the surface upwards, CTA-1 base 1,500ft Solent QNH and CTA-3 base 2,000ft Solent QNH) and in the vicinity of New Alresford (CTA-3 base 2,000ft Solent QNH and CTA-5 base 2,500ft Solent QNH). It offers these tips, many of which can apply when flying anywhere in UK airspace:
Check NOTAM before flying at use an efficient method such as ‘narrow route brief’ and make best use of ‘saved briefings’, which can be re-run at later dates to cut down checking time, or use a commercial product like Skydemon
Restrictions of Flying: planned restrictions are issued as Air Information Circulars on ais.
For checking just prior to flight tel: 0500 354802 will give the very latest situation
Military Airspace: there’s a lot of it in the area – RAF Odiham, Middle Wallop, Boscombe Down – with busy instrument approach training and exercise areas. Keep a keen eye open and monitor useful frequencies such as Boscombe or Farnborough LARS
Controlled Airspace: local VFR guides are available for many Control Areas and Zones in the UK, including Solent. Did you know there are numerous ‘airspace guides’ written (usually) by controllers who are hobby pilots too in their spare time? They contain local advice, charts, and usually good aerial photos of local features to help you stay on the correct routeing
Avoid ‘Hot Spots’: there are certain key areas to avoid or think carefully about such as northeast of the Solent Zone near New Alresford and north-west near Chilbolton and Farley Farm. Watch your altitude along the Solent and remember to use the local (Southampton) QNH
Transit Routes: if your route passes through a zone, plan a zone transit, thinking about your routeing in relation to the active runway alignment. You are much more likely to get a crossing approved over the runway if your track is perpendicular to rather than aligned with it
Have a ‘Plan B’ when planning a route which may cross Controlled Airspace, in case they can’t accommodate you. If you wish to transit Controlled Airspace, think about what you need to say in advance and call the appropriate ATC unit ten miles or five minutes from the airspace boundary. Decide where you’ll use Plan B if a clearance is not possible. It’s easier to get around airspace from a few miles out than to do so close to the boundary. Remember it may result in a longer journey
Radio calls: think before you transmit. Using the correct radio phraseology helps air traffic controllers help you, and sounds and is more professional! A handy free reminder kneeboard insert is available from the CAA or the Fly On Track website. It will help you form any request for a zone crossing by giving you a template for your radio call. The example shown is more or less the reply to ‘pass your message’ for things like asking for a Basic Service as well as an Area or Zone Transit
A specific clearance is needed to enter or cross Controlled Airspace. The instruction ‘Standby’, a transponder squawk, or even the provision of any type of service is not an ATC clearance. Nor is the use of the Listening Squawk (7011 for Solent, 0011 for Bournemouth, 4572 for Farnborough West). An instruction to ‘Remain Outside Controlled Airspace’ on the first reply from ATC does not mean your transit is refused, it merely reminds you not to enter until a formal clearance and routeing are agreed
Why not keep in mind ‘TAKE 2’? Stay two miles from the edge of Controlled Airspace and keep 200ft below.
For more information, hints, tips and downloadable templates, visit:
Useful advice: stay 2nm from Controlled Airspace and keep 200ft below