On January 30, 2015 the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved a request from London Southend Airport to establish controlled airspace (CAS) around the airport. The original extensive request has been reduced following assessment work carried out by the CAA, but will still impact greatly on GA traffic when it comes into force on April 2, 2015.

Southend’s new airspace which currently sits within Class G will become Class D, allowing access on request to transiting general aviation aircraft. It will feature a control zone (CTR) around the airport itself from surface up to 3,500ft, and a larger control area (CTA) from 1,500ft to 3,500ft.

The CAA agreed with the Airport that the measure was necessary to further enhance the protection given to commercial air transport flights into and out of Southend. The number of airprox incidents in the vicinity of the airport has increased in recent years – including two category A incidents, which are the most serious.

Alternatives to controlled airspace, such as establishing a Radio Mandatory Zone (RMZ) around the airport, were considered, but a trial of this in the second half of 2014 proved it would not be an appropriate long-term solution.

London Southend Airport has seen a significant increase in commercial air transport movements in the last three years. In accordance with the CAA’s airspace change process, the Airport launched a consultation on establishing CAS with the general aviation community and the aviation industry, before submitting its proposal to the CAA.

Mark Swan, Director of the CAA’s Safety and Airspace Regulation Group, says: “The new arrangements at Southend will safely support the airport’s increased commercial air transport operations, whilst minimising as far as possible the impact on other airspace users.

“Ultimately, this is a very busy piece of airspace, used by a wide range of aircraft, and we have to be sure that the safety of airline passengers is given absolute priority.”

The new airspace will be reviewed six months after implementation to ensure that it is working as anticipated.

The CAA’s full decision can be read here.

For updates follow the CAA on www.twitter.com/UK_CAA

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