Pilots who infringe Olympic restricted zone will have licences suspended

The CAA has confirmed the enforcement policy that will be used to deal with infringements of Olympic security airspace restrictions.

The CAA has confirmed the enforcement policy that will be used to deal with infringements of Olympic security airspace restrictions.

The organisation will continue its policy of not normally pursuing prosecution in cases of inadvertent airspace infringement and those where the pilot has taken all reasonable steps to resolve the situation carefully.

However, all pilots who infringe the Restricted or Prohibited Zone will have their licences suspended pending an investigation of the incident.

If subsequent investigation by the CAA finds that the infringement was inadvertent and the pilot dealt with the situation safely – for instance, by immediately contacting air traffic control and by ensuring the aircraft’s transponder (if fitted) was turned on – then the suspension may be lifted.

This policy will apply to the Restricted Zone (marked on charts as R112), the Prohibited Zone (P111) and the Paralympics’ Prohibited Zone (P114). Airspace restrictions over the sailing events at Weymouth, and other Olympic restrictions will not be affected.

Phil Roberts, Assistant Director of Airspace Policy at the CAA, said: “We realise that the security restrictions being put in place by the Government will have an impact on general aviation during the Olympics. By working closely with the GA community we have achieved a significant reduction in their length and have ensured pilots have as much access to airspace as possible.

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“The UK’s GA representative associations have been doing excellent work to help us brief their members and we now believe that the vast majority of pilots are well aware of the restrictions and will aim to abide by them. However, we also know that infringements do occur and it is right that pilots know in advance what action the CAA will be taking.”

Atlas Control military air traffic control unit, which controls the Restricted Zone, will report all infringements of the Restricted or Prohibited Zones to the CAA. Infringements that the security services deem to be a potential security threat are also likely to be intercepted by the military and met upon landing.

If a pilot not in contact with an ATC agency such as Atlas Control believes that they may have infringed Olympics Restricted or Prohibited airspace, they should contact the Distress and Diversion Cell on 121.5MHz immediately. The controller will then determine their position and deal with the situation safely.

Matt Lee, Head of the CAA’s Aviation Regulation and Enforcement Department, said: “Over the past few years we’ve worked well with the general aviation community to ensure that the CAA’s reaction to airspace infringements is a sensible one that improves flight safety. We want to continue with that policy during the Olympics but we also have to realise that any infringement of the security restrictions could have a major impact on air traffic movements in the South East of England, causing costly delays.

“An infringement could also affect events at Olympic venues, and if military action is taken there will also be considerable cost. Given the wide consultation, notification and publicity in place for these airspace restrictions any pilot who subsequently infringes is unlikely to be someone displaying the attributes the CAA requires of a licence holder. It is important that we all play a part in ensuring the future reputation of UK aviation.”

Pilots found to have infringed the security restrictions deliberately will be prosecuted under Article 161 of the Air Navigation Order – the same process that occurs currently. Their licences will also remain suspended until the CAA has completed its investigation.

Phil Roberts said: “We believe that it is vital that pilots are particularly vigilant during the Olympic period. If we see a number of infringements that result in military interceptions, and knock on disruption to major airports, then there is a real risk that the concessions that we have been able to agree to date will be rescinded and action will be taken to restrict access to airspace even further.”

Airfields within three nautical miles of the edge of the Restricted Zone, which have been given an exemption to continue operations and be exempt from the Restricted Zone requirements, will be responsible for ensuring that the rules of exemption are adhered to. Additionally, theses airfields will be responsible for ensuring that pilots are briefed appropriately and that the required daily liaison with Atlas Control takes place. Exemption may be rescinded if these requirements are not adhered to.

For more information on London 2012 Olympic airspace restrictions click here.