When will lockdown restrictions lift for General Aviation?

When can we fly again? Discover a comprehensive guide to the lifting of lockdown restrictions for Ge

When can we fly again? Discover a comprehensive guide to the lifting of lockdown restrictions for General Aviation, along with links to all the useful resources you may require when you start flying again Credit: Harbucks/Getty - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Lockdown restrictions as a result of Covid-19 have left many GA pilots grounded; find out when restrictions on GA will be lifted, along with useful links

Step 1 - from 29 March

People will no longer be required to stay at home.

* This will allow the safe restart of GA flying for non-professional purposes for solo pilots, or individuals flying with a member of their household or bubble.

* Training for professional pilots, or those in training to be professional pilots, will be able to continue.

* Training for leisure or recreational purposes should not take place.

* GA activities should take place in line with the wider restrictions. Travel should be minimised as far as possible.

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Step 2 – no earlier than 12 April

Flight training for all pilots, and flights with an instructor, can resume.

* GA businesses will be able to open following COVID-secure guidance, for example commercial balloon operators. The rules on social contact will apply in these settings. Outdoor gatherings must still be limited to 6 people or 2 households, and no indoor mixing will be allowed.

* GA activities should take place in line with the wider restrictions. Travel should be minimised as far as possible.

Step 3 – no earlier than 17 May

Some large events will be permitted & most legal restrictions lifted on meeting outdoors.

* The large events permitted will be:

- in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full, whichever is a lower number

- in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4,000 people or half-full, whichever is a lower number

- in the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend or a quarter-full, whichever is lower

COVID-secure guidance will remain in place and businesses must not cater for groups larger than the legal limits.

* The government will lift most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors, but gatherings of more than 30 people outdoors will remain illegal. Indoors, people will be able to meet socially in a group of 6, or with 1 other household, though it may be possible to go further than this at Step 3 depending on the data.

* GA activities should take place in line with the wider restrictions.

Step 4 – no earlier than 21 June

The government aims to remove all legal limits on social contact, and reopen any remaining closed settings.

International Travel

The government will determine when international travel should resume based on recommendations from the Global Travel Taskforce – this will be no earlier than Step 3.

International GA Flying

All international GA flying should follow the wider rules regarding international travel.

Everyone arriving in the UK must:

* take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test before travel

* complete a passenger locator form

* quarantine for 10 days on arrival

* take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine

* follow the national lockdown rules

Light Aircraft Association (LAA) CEO, Steve Slater, commented: “The LAA welcomes the DfT advice. We have been making the case to DfT in past weeks, pointing out that unlike other sports, there is a genuine safety case for pilots to access continuity flying as early as possible. Therefore, even 29th March represents a delay which has a potential adverse safety implication.

“In addition, unlike driving on a road, many already qualified pilots will benefit from currency training from instructors and pilot coaches. This should be available from the resumption of flying, on safety grounds. It is also noteworthy that a significant proportion of this pilot population is older and will almost all have been inoculated. The pilot population should be treated as having entirely different demographics and risk factors to those seeking driving tuition.

“We’ve also made the case that the term ‘private flying’ does not mean that restrictions damage just the recency of pilots, in itself a safety critical issue. Airfields large and small are losing valuable operational revenue, fuel isn’t being sold (and indeed may need to be discarded due to age) maintenance is delayed , inspections delayed and there are a myriad of other income streams normally enjoyed by all of the organisations that underpin ‘Private Flying’.

“It is an inescapable consequence of the above that some of those who have invested in the industry will go out of business/give up and potentially yet more airfields will be sold for housing. In many cases, the demographic of light aircraft maintainers, inspectors and airfield owners preclude any form of government income support. The industry has been outstanding in its restraint so far and hopefully it hasn’t escaped the attention of the SoS that we have not immediately held out the begging bowl for support, unlike some other sectors of the aviation industry.”

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