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caa logoPilots know to infringe controlled or restricted airspace is potentially dangerous, very likely to inconvenience a lot of people and to be avoided at all costs. For most pilots who fly primarily in uncontrolled airspace it is something drilled into us during initial flying training. Yet even so and despite the enhanced navigation GPS systems now provide Controlled Airspace infringements are on the rise to the point where the CAA are describing over 1,000 reported to them in 2015 as "worryingly high".

 

In a move to significantly reduce these numbers the CAA have decided to immediately 'provisionally suspend' a pilot's licence whilst the alleged infringement of controlled airspace, Danger Areas or Restricted Area is fully investigated. As if to prove the point one GA pilot has recently had their licence provisionally suspended when a Red Arrows display was disrupted because of his infringement of the restricted airspace.

Under this new process a pilot is likely to have their licence(s) provisionally suspended while the details of the incident are investigated and follow-up action considered. The CAA said it is committed to delivering a speedy resolution to any investigation and will only impose a suspension for as long as it was necessary. The criteria used to determine the level of seriousness of a particular infringement has been published by the CAA here: www.caa.co.uk/cap1404

 

Details of all infringement events are assessed weekly by a team of experts made up of pilots, investigators and air traffic controllers. If an incident is deemed serious then the licence of the pilot involved will be provisionally suspended until further notice.  Depending on the outcome of the subsequent follow-up action, a decision will be made about lifting the provisional suspension.

 

The CAA said it acknowledges most infringements are unintentional yet even so each can have a significant impact on operations and all infringements carry some level of risk. Some infringements are the result of inadequate flight planning, poor airmanship or lack of pilot knowledge. In some cases there has been a deliberate flight into Controlled Airspace and even some instances of multiple infringements by the same pilot. It is likely that in these circumstances such pilots will have their licences suspended.

 

Despite the new approach of provisional licence suspension the CAA said they will continue to focus on education and training and opt for provisional suspension or legal enforcement in more serious cases. 

 

The CAA hope this new approach will bring it home to pilots the gravity of an infringement and the need for these very high numbers to decline urgently.

 

Here is some helpful advice from the CAA about how to avoid infringing http://infringements.caa.co.uk/

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