DAP‘s obligation to secure the most efficient use of airspace consistent with the safe operation of aircraft and the expeditious flow of air traffic includes the approval and establishment of controlled and uncontrolled airspace structures. Links to the documents refered to in the text are available at the foot of the page.
The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) requires airspace to be classified and designated according to the Airspace Classifications described in ICAO Annex 11. The UK’s application of these is subject to a number of Differences filed with ICAO that are summarised at GEN 1.7 of the UK Aeronautical Infromation Publication (AIP). For further information see our Airspace Classifications page , DAP Policy Statement 'Application of ICAO Airspace Classifications in UK Flight Information Regions' and AIP.
A change to the use or classification of airspace in the UK can take many forms and may be simple and straightforward to implement with little noticeable operational or environmental impact. Conversely, a change may be complex and involve significant alterations to existing airspace arrangements that impact upon the various airspace user groups and the general public. Changes to airspace arrangements falling within the scope of the airspace change process as set out in CAP 724 ‘Airspace Charter’ and CAP 725, 'CAA Guidance on the Application of the Airspace Change Process' should be made only where it is clear that airspace management considerations and the overriding need for safety allow for no practical alternative, or where an overall environmental benefit will accrue. All airspace changes are unique and, regardless of scale, will require some form of consultation.
DAP is responsible for the Airspace Change Process as published in CAPs 724 and 725. The Process describes the requirements necessary to ensure that proposed changes are initiated, considered, refined, approved and implemented in a safe and controlled manner. It applies to all proposals for changes to the status of UK airspace. Significant changes to ATC procedures resulting in changed flight paths require an airspace change proposal. For further information see the Airspace Change Process pages.
An airspace change may be triggered by the introduction of, or changes to, Standard Instrument Departure routes, Standard Arrival Routes, Noise Preferential Routes (NPRs) within controlled airspace or Holding Patterns. Standard Departure Routes and NPRs where they exist outside controlled airspace are not covered by this Process, however, aerodrome operators are strongly recommended to adopt the same principles when considering the need for new or amended procedures. For further information see our Instrument Flight Procedues pages, CAP 778 ‘Policy and Guidance for the Design and Operation of Departure Procedures in UK Airspace’, CAP 785 ‘Approval Requirements for Instrument Flight Procedures for use in UK Airspace’ and DAP Policy Statement - Validation of Instrument Flight Procedures.
Navigational methods and supporting navigation infrastructure will influence the profiles of Instrument Flight Procedures, which will in turn influence the size and shape of airspace structures (or vice versa). Industry is undergoing a transition away from traditional, conventional navigational techniques utilising ground-based navaids towards greater application of Area Navigation (RNAV) methods and technology. For further information see Navigation pages (currently under deveopment).
The establishment of any ATZ is subject to the CAA’s assessment that its introduction will be to the overall benefit of the UK aviation community. Requests for the establishment of an ATZ will be progressed in accordance with the process described within with CAP 724 rather than the Airspace Change Process.