When FASVIG (now Airspace4All) was formed, one of its first projects concerned the use of VFR flight plans to pre-note interaction with CAS and ATS units to reduce RTF and controller workload and to make flights more predictable. This failed to achieve support from NATS because systems at Swanwick could not process a single flight plan that would facilitate GA VFR users to fly across the country with all ANSPs en-route being informed of their intentions and requirements. Moreover, standard FPL addressing did not include en-route ANSPS.
However, NATS set up its own notification system based on a web-based app with an airspace portal which worked for transit via London airports for which NATS was the ANSP.
Whilst the airspace portal worked successfully it had a number of limitations:
• It was only designed to pre-notify intended airspace crossings for London airports at which NATS is the ANSP.
• It requires manual input by the pilot or operator which is cumbersome and prone to error.
• It is another UK-only process.
• The scope (and therefore take-up) was limited.
• It does not provide the range of benefits that the envisioned system would provide.
• It does not use the ICAO standard and AFTN addressing used by the rest of the World.
There is, of course, no current requirement to submit a flight plan for VFR flights in the UK and this should continue to be the case. However, pilots who wish to pre-note their intentions for either a pre-planned route or voluntarily make their intentions known (to aid situational awareness for other airspace users – or cut down the amount of RT required should their situation and intentions change) or even plan ahead for a potential change of intentions should be able to do so easily – ideally at a touch of a button on their preferred flight planning application.
Airspace4All is therefore scoping the capabilities of the options currently available (advantages/limitations) and, in consultation with technology providers and ANSPs, looking to identify options and benefits that may be open to enable pilots to voluntarily submit their VFR flight plans to contribute to the known intention traffic environment. For example, ATS providers would already have on hand flight details whenever pilots ask for services, reducing pilot/ATCO/FISO workload and reducing the volume of R/T traffic.
One of the principal aims of integration is to try and reduce “that which is unknown” and thereby mitigate against airspace infringements and Airspace4All acknowledges that there is a great deal of valuable work being undertaken by local teams, at many airports, to see how infringement risk is being addressed. Accordingly, Airspace4All is looking to incorporate and support the work being undertaken by the Local Airspace Infringement Teams.
This forms a part of the Airspace4All project Integrating All Air Traffic Types Within Regulated Airspace, Safely and Predictably