The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched a campaign to educate those operating to and from the 2012 London Olympic Games this summer about the airspace restrictions to be imposed and how to handle them. Major restrictions will be in place centered over London and the Olympic Park from July 14 to August 15, with lesser restrictions for the Paralympic Games from August 16 to September 12.
Still to come from the CAA are details of plans for dedicated airspace arrangements for business aircraft operators that were promised last year. These plans and the final complete airspace guide are awaiting further input from Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) and some final legislative arrangements.
What is already settled is that there will be restrictions around other Olympic sites for shorter periods of time, for example at the athletes’ village at Egham (just south of Heathrow Airport) and rowing site at nearby Eton Dorney. There will also be temporary restrictions in place around other Olympic events elsewhere in the UK, including those in Newcastle, Coventry, Glasgow and Cardiff.
Another restricted site will be Weymouth, where Olympic sailing will be held on the south coast of England. These will apply from sea level to 3,000 feet. Details of all restrictions will be available via Notams and through www.skydemonlight.com.
Authorities have modified the boundaries of the Prohibited and Restricted Zones for the main periods since first proposing them in March last year, and this March final charts will be issued and details propagated via flight-planning providers such as Jeppesen.
Some aircraft–such as police, emergency medical, essential survey aircraft and aircraft operating for the Olympic Broadcast Service–will be exempt from restrictions. These have their own set of procedures. The London Heliport at Battersea, on the south bank of the River Thames, has also been afforded a special exemption.
The MoD and air traffic management company NATS will also be providing a significant enhancement to the AFPeX support and processing team that will include, according to CAA literature, “a flight-planning reception center and significant manpower dedicated to the task.” CAA-led Olympic preparations in the early part of this year will include a “comprehensive communications and education program to help keep airspace users up to date,” according to a note on the key website, www.airspacesafety.com/Olympics.
The general procedure for aircraft will be as follows:
1) File a flight plan on AFPeX or AFTN between 24 hours and two hours before estimated off-block time and follow it. No airborne or faxed flight plans will be permitted. All flight plans must include accurate timings and waypoints, including waypoints if leaving or entering the zone.
2) Receive an acceptance message and approval number before flying.
3) Establish and maintain two-way radio communication with Atlas Control (the ATC unit that will control the Restricted Zone, flight planning and interception procedures), quoting approval number.
4) Squawk and maintain discrete transponder code as allocated by Atlas Control.
5) Receive an air traffic service and comply with ATC instructions.
All aircraft arriving and departing one of the pre-determined slot coordinated airports between July 21 and August 15 and using controlled airspace will need an arrival slot and/or a departure slot. Booking of slots started on Sept. 5, 2011, with airports such as Biggin Hill, Cambridge, Farnborough and Oxford. Stansted, Birmingham, Luton and Bournemouth started taking bookings from Nov. 30, 2011. On February 1, Southampton and London City are set to begin accepting slot bookings.
Gatwick and Heathrow are already slot-controlled, through Airport Coordination Limited (ACL). For ad hoc flights at Gatwick slot bookings are required between 24 hours (if possible) and 10 days beforehand; at Heathrow such bookings will be difficult to obtain during normal hours of operation. Heathrow has declared reduced capacity between July 14 and September 14 to help it to cope with demand.
The slot-booking procedure is as follows:
1) Review slot availability of the airport online at www.online-coordination.com.
2) Contact the airport/handling agent.
3) Airport uses www.online-coordination to obtain slots.
4) For general and business aviation the airport receives a unique slot ID, which is entered by the operator in field 18 of the flight plan, pre-fixed RMK/ASL.
5) For operations to some airfields, such as Biggin Hill and Farnborough, the flight plan must include the address EGGOLYMI.
Further information on slots can be obtained by e-mailing ACL at: 21july15August@acl-uk.org.