Airspace counts as an invisible national asset – put simply, it is defined as the part of the atmosphere controlled by a State above its territory and over the sea which it is committed to provide air navigation services.
It is divided into two main categories – controlled and uncontrolled space and in the UK, the CAA is the body that’s responsible for administering the rules and regulations regarding it.
Over time, obviously, the needs for the airspace change and so the airspace classes need to be amended so they can meet these requirements. These changes can be minor or major (such as new runway additions to major airports) and there is a set process to follow to get these changes approved.
The CAA say…
“We make these decisions in accordance with legal requirements to consider certain factors which include safety, the environment and the needs of users of airspace. For example, changes may be proposed to enable UK airspace to accommodate more flights, to incorporate new technology, to mitigate the effects of aircraft noise, to allow aircraft to fly more direct routes or to keep them away from particular areas. When we are asked to consider a change to the design of UK airspace, we will consider the objective of the change. Before deciding whether to agree any change we then have to consider a range of factors set out in section 70 of the Transport Act 2000, including safety, security, operational and environmental impacts such as aircraft noise and emissions.”
They’ve recently made some changes to the way that they are dealing with proposed changes to airspace by introducing a brand new portal. This means that anyone, it’s not just limited to professionals in aviation, can search by postcode to see if there are any changes to an airspace area, the stage these changes are at in the process and what the effects are predicted to be. It’s designed to be a one stop shop for everyone who is interested in the airspace categorisation.
Drone Safe Register pilots will always work within the airspace requirements where they are flying – you can see more about how this can affect flight planning in our blog post here – but it can be useful for everyone involved to see potential areas of change.