Olympic Airspace- Observations thus far, and CAA response.

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This has been circulated by a T.M ( Club pilot ) at White waltham ''Sorry this is so long - but it contains a lot of info. For the record, I have been given approval from CAA to publish this on the forum. On Monday afternoon a series of conference calls took place between the CAA, NATS and the various ATSU’s and airfields within and adjacent to the Olympic restricted zone expressly to gather and collate feedback on how the first weekend of the Olympic restrictions had worked (or not) and to feed this back in order that remedial action can be taken. The following is an almost verbatim copy of the notes from those calls. The only edits are those needed to enhance understanding. The calls were structured by region – eg NW, NE, S£ and SW of the RZ – All airfields within – or in close proximity to R112 were invited to participate and the following airfields took part: Gransdon Lodge, Bourne, Old Warden, Cranfield, Wattisham, Manston, Southend, Maypole Lydd, Shoreham, Farnborough, Odiham, White Waltham, Benson, Brize Norton, Lasham Denham, Oxford Gliding Club The CAA started by giving an overview of the situation so far from their perspective: Infringements: Saturday 14/7 – 1 x helicopter with foreign pilot departed from a private site near Billingshurst with no prior flight plan or approval. Luckily he made contact on Fbro East freq so Atlas were able to take control of the situation Sunday15/7 – 4 x occurrences – all involving aircraft with approved flight plans - but failing to establish the required 2 way RT with ATLAS before proceeding in, or entering R112. 1 x White Waltham to Farnborough transit (A display aircraft rushing to meet a display slot time) 1 x Fairoaks departure which also then infringed P111 1 x Aircraft entering R112 from NW – coms eventually established near Bovingdon 1 x Aircraft Leaving R112 from Chelmsford area to NE Known Atlas Issues: Phone lines continually engaged ACTION – work in progress to increase phone capacity Flight planning process very slow – time taken to get acceptance/rejection and some odd rejections ACTION – more Atlas resources being assigned to this work Atlas RT - Difficulties in getting 2 way with Atlas and clearance to proceed/enter R112 ACTION – Atlas creating a 3rd ICF by splitting out some of the NW airfields from the North ICF – and also doubling the number of assistants that search out the FP’s and approval numbers for the controllers on the radio. (was 1 per 2 controllers – now will be 1 per controller) ATLAS not giving explicit clearance / approval to proceed on RT ACTION –SRG have provided Atlas with potential RT phraseology to use Feedback from the R112 regions: General Issues: Poor weather has limited aircraft movements – no real identified increases in displaced Class G traffic at this stage – however, expectations that flying rate will ramp up if weather improves There was 1 x technical CAS(T) infringement of Manston CTR by a Dutch pilot already on frequency who hadn’t explicitly asked for crossing clearance. These conference calls enabled adjacent ATC units to refine their interfaces and procedures -Debate enabled on the Southend exemption - and for DAP to send subsequent email to reconfirm the process and confirmation of its alignment with the Farnborough exemption -IFR training airfield slot process was able to be clarified for Cranfield -Cranfield expect to get busy in the immediate days before the opening ceremony as an overspill for Luton -Gransdon Lodge gliding competition this weekend as already promulgated -Lasham will continue with their self-imposed restrictions to flying rate and type, but are monitoring local traffic to see if they can ease these at some time in the future – but no rush from them to do so. -Farnborough LARS West was quiet initially but getting busier now. Farnborough have been working with Atlas to reduce the telephone call burden -Odiham feel that the F’Boro CAS(T) is squeezing their IFR traffic into increased confliction with transiting GA a/c going N-S west of Odiham. A known risk – elevated to Odiham station commander – Odiham may need to take other measures to deconflict their military flying programme. -Farnborough felt that London Info may be overloaded on south coast -There was an increased number of GA crossing of Weston on Green ATZ due to the danger area being suppressed. (Parachuting has been suspended for the Olympics – but Glider flying continues) ACTION - Oxford Gliding Club monitoring closely -Brize and Benson reported a perceived trend that Kemble pilots were not very well briefed on the Olympic restrictions and procedures – ACTION – CAA to follow up with these units and liaise with Kemble. -GA fly ins at Leicester, Gloucester and Dunkeswell this weekend so expect a traffic flow in these directions Key Atlas Control issues which have been passed on to Atlas for response and actions: -As previously known, ATC units have been frequently unable to get phone contact with Atlas due to being engaged. ATLAS say they are providing additional phone capacity, but we do not yet know if this will result in new phone numbers -Feedback from pilots on very long delays in Atlas flight planning acceptance/rejection as already known -Reports that Atlas controllers have given pilots some inappropriate routings inside R112, (some would have allegedly infringed other ATZs). Pilots would rather be left to fly the route as flight planned and as showing on the Atlas ‘blue line’ – particularly important around Booker, White Waltham etc in very complex airspace. Pilots have questioned some controllers knowledge of geography and airspace. ACTION - Atlas tasked to look into this and respond RT contact with Atlas: -Reports of pilots making multiple calls and unable to get an answer from Atlas North and South despite the frequency appearing to be quiet. This is in relation to north and south, but particularly in the SE . Feedback from Farnborough and pilots is that Farnborough East frequency is unusable East of Maidstone below 2000ft. Old Warden report pilots having difficulty raising Atlas to advise they are returning to the airfield ACTION - Atlas requested to look at the technical performance of the frequencies – Also raised safety concerns with Atlas, regarding aircraft being forced to orbit outside R112 in choke points whilst trying to contact Atlas – or awaiting approval to enter R112. Benson advise that the interface between themselves and Atlas is much improved since the weekend, now that they are now following the pre agreed procedure (to pass outbound aircraft (in the NW sector) directly from the Atlas ICF to Benson rather than to an Atlas console before transfer to Benson) – however late Monday, some pilots still reported that they were being transferred between Atlas frequencies when outbound from White Waltham or Wycombe instead of direct to Benson – resulting in too many frequency changes, squawk changes, radio conversations (and head down time) in such a short flight. Benson are also then faced with late transfers inside their MATZ. Atlas have been asked if they can releasing the traffic to Benson earlier, eg long before it reached the R112 boundary, and preferably as soon as it leaves the Waltham or Wycombe ATZ’s. - There are a lot of pilots who are calling Atlas direct rather than Benson when recovering from the West – this causes Benson a lot of problems with their own aircraft. CAA Corporate Comms have been asked to publicise this and encourage pilots in this region to work through Benson - It was reported that the new Atlas RT for (explicit) clearance to proceed was already being well received. But it was also reported that many pilots may not have realised that they need a positive clearance to enter R112 despite having a flight plan approval – this would accord with the 4 x infringement reports from Sunday. CAA Corporate Comms have been asked to publicise. Denham and White Waltham reported variations in whether aircraft returning are instructed to keep their allocated Atlas squawk until landing - or to change to the airfield squawk on entering the circuit. Different Atlas ATCO’s seemingly giving different instructions. Waltham and Denham request that whatever the answer is - it should be standardised. ACTION - Atlas requested to review and confirm - Pilots reported hearing extended debates on the Atlas ICF about whether pilots had approval or not – it was suggested that these conversations should be moved to a discrete frequency rather than blocking the ICF. ACTION - Atlas requested to consider implementing. - IFR departures from Denham and White Waltham were causing some safety concerns. It was reported that on some occasions the aircraft are instructed (by ATLAS) to hold in the departure airfield overhead pending flight plan confirmation and approval. This creates significant conflict with circuit traffic - particularly for types such as PC12, TBM 850 and similar due to their speed and large turn radius. It is also incompatible with a planned IFR departure clearance / profile. It also risks a Denham departure being unable to stay within in the small local flying area and thereby conflicting with Heathrow traffic. Some IFR departures are seemingly transferred to the Atlas ICF and some to a discrete Atlas frequency. ACTION - Atlas requested to confirm the procedure to be followed and if it possible for these departures to route direct as per their flight plan. - There seems to be disparity about when inbound aircraft should (a) drop the Atlas squawk and (b) be transferred to the destination airfield frequency. Some Atlas controllers are telling aircraft to switch to the local squawk – and some telling them to retain the Atlas squawk until landing. It was agreed that for safety, aircraft returning back to their airfield inside R112 need to be released as soon as possible cognisant of security and monitoring requirements. There is concern that we will have an incident between a departing and an arriving aircraft, one still on Atlas and the other on the airfield frequency – and both unable to build a picture of where other traffic might be. It is better to be on the aerodrome frequency in good time to be told of the runway in use and given traffic info on others – but whether and or when inbounds should change to the appropriate circuit squawk was not clear and need . ACTION - Atlas requested to look at this again.''
Original post

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12 years 4 months

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Propstrike Interesting reading, many thanks for posting it. Any further updates appreciated.

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What a shambles ! But, entirely expected. John Green
Profile picture for user low'n'slow

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All credit to the CAA and NATS for being so open, and to the professionalism of all GA pilots in making the system work as well as it has done. As Propstrike has said. Hope we can continue to see similar updates.

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Don't some of you chaps question anything? Or, is it just a question of 'They know better' ? John Green
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We 'questioned' the hell out of it, but it got us nowhere. There was much 'consultation' with some notables from the GA world, but instead of kicking, screaming and fighting the whole pointless shambles the notables went 'Stockholm Syndrome' and were pathetically grateful for a couple of tiny concessions and then told the rest of us what a great victory had been scored on our behalf. Most of us promptly bought our first 'Northern' half mill for decades. Moggy
I cannot really add to the comments by you GA chaps as I am not a 'flyer' per-se although I have to say that I was quite stunned by the silence that had settled across Rochester last weekend. Talking to guys there I was made aware of the financial impact this has had/is having on those involved in GA flying in the region - not to mention losses to the flying fields themselves and associated businesses.

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If our so-called GA representatives are proving to be 'toothless tigers' when confronting the kind of witless shambles under discussion, perhaps it is time that we in GA had another look at our representation and in future, took matters into our own hands with the help perhaps of one or two aviation minded MPs. I would be pleased to help the start of any such nascent organisation. Is there sufficient support ? John Green

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Further to the above. I agree that the time for questioning the necessity of these airspace extensions is now gone but, if on these forums we fail to question those matters arising then, those from NATS and the CAA who read these forums will think that most of us are disinterested and therefore treat us with the disdain that we will deserve. As a matter of interest, does anyone know exactly what the thinking was that led to the imposition of the exclusion zone ? I think that I can guess but, it will be informative to know what others think. John Green
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I would be pleased to help the start of any such nascent organisation. Is there sufficient support ? John Green
In truth AOPA is about the best we have. I'm not a member so I guess I am to blame in some small degree. Seriously considering it now. Moggy

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The trouble with AOPA is that they do not have any 'teeth' worthy of the name. Therefore, they can be ignored. In ths country, GA is too small to have any clout. John Green
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I was thinking of flying in the olympic period but now you have to book slots at Biggin so think i'll wait till my next booking 18th August the hardest day ! When i try and follow the route of the Do17's but not as low !