Within the UK there has been a steady growth in the volume of regulated airspace at lower levels where the impact is felt particularly by the recreational pilot. As the volume of such airspace increases, the volume of un-regulated airspace decreases. Non-commercial airspace users are confined to a shrinking portion of the resource.
This process has operational and safety implications in terms of the creation of choke points into which such traffic is funnelled. It is also reflected in Airspace Infringement statistics.
Some of these issues may be eased by a more flexible approach to the use of airspace. Such flexibility might include the handing-back to general use on a temporary and geographically-defined basis (limited in dimensions and measured in perhaps hours or days) some of those blocks of airspace which for that limited period do not actually need to be regulated at that time.
Switching-off such blocks on a temporary basis provides potential advantages to the non-commercial user but it also provides potential economic advantages to the ANSPs and other airspace managers. Some safety and communications issues arise also.
To help inform the debate about Flexible Use Airspace, which features in three of the CAA’s Airspace Modernisation Strategy initiatives, Airspace4All has commissioned the preparation of a paper to show there are solutions to these issues and sets out examples of such airspace and offers examples of how such flexible-use might work.
The concept of the flexible use of airspace at the upper levels is already well advanced through discussions between the CAA, MoD and NATS. At the lower levels, however, the debate is somewhat behind. Airspace4All has already produced a Strawman Paper on the subject and has entered into discussion with the CAA, MoD, ANSPs/airspace managers, the non-commercial flying community and others (including technology providers) to see how this paper can be further developed into policy that will benefit all by providing greater access to airspace.