The Lord Kirkhope Inquiry into Lower Airspace has called for the Government to scrap and replace the legislation that sets the direction for UK lower airspace design

It found the current Airspace Design Process unfit for purpose at ‘every level’ from Section 70 of the Transport Act 2000 to the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) interpretation of the legislation. The expert panel recommended that the Department for Transport and the CAA base their airspace policy on the principles of, ‘safety, proportionality and need’.

Lord Kirkhope commented, “It has been clear to everyone in the aviation community, for some time, that the current Airspace Design Process is unfit for purpose and as a result the UK has one of the most complex airborne environments in the world.

“The outdated legislation and complex guidance that comes from it, has created a system that is overburdensome and potentially dangerous for future airspace users.”

The report also included recommendations for government to adopt aimed at rationalising the way airspace is managed in the UK. One important measure the Inquiry called for was the introduction of a ‘ratchet down’ process for removing underused volumes of controlled airspace. This would give the CAA the powers to either lower the class of controlled airspace or make airspace uncontrolled.

The Inquiry recommended that the Government should give the CAA power to make alterations to airspace applications – currently the CAA can only accept or refuse applications.

Also that the CAA should implement an independent review procedure after twelve months and further reviews within a maximum of three years after any airspace change to see if the criteria and reasoning given at the time of the change this has been achieved, and if not, why not? The board must also have the power to revoke an airspace design change proposal.

The full report can be found here:

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