Unauthorized Pilots Entering Olympics Airspace Will Have License
By Eddy Metcalf
May 20, 2012 - The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on
Tuesday confirmed the enforcement policy that will be in
place to deal with infringements of this summer’s
Olympics security airspace restrictions.
The existing CAA policy of not generally pursuing a
prosecution in cases when an airspace infringement is
inadvertent, and the pilot has taken all reasonable
steps to resolve the situation safely, will remain.
However, as infringements of the security airspace are
likely to have a significant impact on other airspace
users, the license of all pilots infringing either the
Restricted or Prohibited Zone will be suspended pending
an investigation of the incident.
The decision affects the Restricted Zone (marked on
charts as R112), the Prohibited Zone (P111) and the
smaller Paralympics’ Prohibited Zone (P114). The policy
to suspend licenses will not apply to the airspace
restrictions covering the sailing events at Weymouth or
other Olympics restrictions.
Phil Roberts, Assistant Director of Airspace Policy at the CAA,
said “We realize that the security restrictions being put in
place by the Government will have an impact on General Aviation
(GA) during the Olympics. By working closely with the GA
community we have achieved a significant reduction in their
length and have ensured pilots have as much access to airspace
“The UK’s GA representative associations have been doing
excellent work to help us brief their members and we now believe
that the vast majority of pilots are well aware of the
restrictions and will aim to abide by them. However, we also
know that infringements do occur and it is right that pilots
know in advance what action the CAA will be taking.”
All infringements of the Restricted or Prohibited Zones will be
reported to the CAA by the Atlas Control military air traffic
control unit controlling the Restricted Zone. Serious
infringements that the security services deem as being a
potential security threat are also likely to be intercepted by
the UK military in the air and met on landing.
If the subsequent CAA investigation reveals that the
infringement was inadvertent and the pilot safely dealt with the
situation, by for example immediately contacting air traffic
control and ensuring the aircraft’s transponder (if fitted) is
on, then the suspension may be lifted.
Pilots not already in contact with Atlas Control or another ATC agency
who believe they may have infringed the Olympics Restricted or
Prohibited airspace should immediately contact the Distress and
Diversion Cell on 121.5MHz. The controller will then ascertain their
exact position and safely deal with the situation.
Matt Lee, Head of the CAA’s Aviation Regulation and Enforcement
Department, said “Over the past few years we’ve worked well with the
general aviation community to ensure that the CAA’s reaction to airspace
infringements is a sensible one that improves flight safety. We want to
continue with that policy during the Olympics but we also have to
realize that any infringement of the security restrictions could have a
major impact on air traffic movements in the South East of England,
causing costly delays.
“An infringement could also affect events at Olympic venues, and if
military action is taken there will also be considerable cost. Given the
wide consultation, notification and publicity in place for these
airspace restrictions any pilot who subsequently infringes is unlikely
to be someone displaying the attributes the CAA requires of a license
holder. It is important that we all play a part in ensuring the future
reputation of UK aviation.”
Any pilots found to have deliberately infringed the security
restrictions will be prosecuted under Article 161 of the Air Navigation
Order. This is the same process that occurs today. Their license will
also remain suspended until the CAA’s investigation is complete.
Phil Roberts added “We believe that it is vital that pilots are
particularly vigilant during the Olympic period. If we see a number of
infringements that result in military interceptions, and knock on
disruption to major airports, then there is a real risk that the
concessions that we have been able to agree to date will be rescinded
and action will be taken to restrict access to airspace even further.”
The CAA also said that airfields that are within three nautical miles of
the edge of the Restricted Zone that are given an exemption to continue
operations and be exempt from the Restricted Zone requirements will be
responsible for ensuring the rules of the exemption are adhered to.
These airfields will be responsible for ensuring pilots are
appropriately briefed and that the required daily liaison with Atlas
Control takes place. If these requirements are not followed then the
exemption may be rescinded.
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