CAA Draft Airspace Modernisation Strategy Consultation (open til 10/9/18)


What are we asking?

The purpose of this stakeholder engagement exercise is for the CAA to understand your views on our new draft Airspace Modernisation Strategy which will replace our 2011 Future Airspace Strategy (FAS).

This comprises a draft Airspace Modernisation Strategy document and six questions (See ‘Related’ documents below). A transcript of this summary and the questions is also provided for reference.

Why is airspace modernisation needed?

Airspace is a crucial part of the UK’s infrastructure. It must be maintained and enhanced to provide more choice and value for consumers, through the capacity for airlines to add new flights, reduced flight delays and enhanced global connections that can help boost the UK economy, while continuing to improve safety standards.

In addition to accommodating increasing commercial flights, Military requirements and an active GA sector, the UK’s skies are hosting different types of airborne vehicles such as drones. UK airspace will also need to accommodate commercial spaceflight in the future, and other new technologies are constantly emerging.

What is the objective for modernising airspace?

Working together, the Government and the CAA have developed a shared objective for modernising airspace. This objective states that modernising airspace means changing and developing its structural design, and the operational concepts and technology that are used to fly and manage air traffic.

It states that we want to ensure that airspace capacity is not a constraint on the growth of commercial aviation, with the constraint to growth instead becoming the number of runways or restrictions imposed on the use of those runways by government or planning authorities as a condition of that growth.

Our approach in undertaking this programme is to be transparent, inclusive, and to take into account the needs and views of all airspace users and affected parties, including airports, airlines, communities and General Aviation representatives.

Why have we written a new Airspace Modernisation Strategy?

The Government has tasked the CAA with preparing and maintaining a co-ordinated strategy and plan for the use of UK airspace for air navigation up to 2040, including for the modernisation of the use of such airspace.

The Airspace Modernisation Strategy responds to that requirement. It supersedes and replaces the Future Airspace Strategy (FAS), although many key elements of FAS remain relevant and are included in this new strategy. The new Airspace Modernisation Strategy also needs to take into account:

  • a new runway at Heathrow: outlined in the current National Policy Statement
  • the need to coordinate multiple different airspace changes
  • potential changes arising from government policy reviews, such as more explicit policy on how noise must be considered
  • drones
  • spaceplanes.

The CAA must consult the Secretary of State about the preparation and maintenance of this Airspace Modernisation Strategy and the detail to be included in the delivery plan, and must give a delivery report to the Secretary of State annually.

Our draft Airspace Modernisation Strategy

This draft Airspace Modernisation Strategy forms part of the Government’s new arrangements to take forward the delivery of the airspace modernisation programme. The strategy sets out the ends, ways and means of modernising airspace.

Chapter 1 introduces the need for airspace modernisation and describes its objective, and the approach taken in this strategy.

Chapter 2 sets out the role of the Department for Transport, the CAA, NATS and other relevant stakeholders.

Chapter 3 sets out the ends, or outcomes, that modernised airspace must deliver, all of which are derived from UK and international policies and laws.

In Chapter 4, 14 initiatives are identified as the primary ways of modernising airspace, including new airspace designs, operational procedures and enabling technologies.

Chapter 5 identifies that there are a number of current foreseeable ‘unknowns’ that could change and reshape the context for this strategy.

The means of delivering airspace modernisation – such as the resources needed to bring in changes – must rest with the industry organisations that will use airspace. The need for these plans is addressed in Chapter 6.

In Chapter 7 we set out our assessment of progress towards completion of each major initiative and the supporting designs, operational procedures and technology enablers.

Your views are invited

The CAA is publishing this draft for public engagement so that any interested stakeholders can offer feedback on the document – including its approach and the initiatives it sets out as the primary ways to deliver modernisation – before it is finalised and delivered to the Secretary of State in December 2018. In future years the strategy may be revised, but the CAA will not always publish a full draft document for engagement.

We are asking you to respond to six questions and provide comments before 10 September 2018. We cannot commit to taking into account comments received after this date.

The questions include some multiple-choice answers and the opportunity to submit your comments by completing text boxes. Please note that if you prefer not to give a multiple-choice answer, the questionnaire will still allow you to complete the text box. We understand that some stakeholders may prefer not to be constrained by the questions alone. We have therefore also included a text box for general observations not covered by the questions.

If you would like to discuss anything about how to respond, please email: or telephone: 0207 453 6278.

We will assume that all responses can be published on our website. When you complete the online form there will be an option for you:

•     to hide your identity including personal details (which will anonymise your response completely), or

•     to refuse publication altogether; in the interests of transparency, we hope people will not refuse publication.

What happens next?

Your comments will help us to set out a comprehensible and engaging strategy for developing and delivering our shared airspace modernisation objective, and enable the CAA to report on it to the Secretary of State.

This stakeholder engagement exercise will be open until 10 September 2018. We will then review the responses received, and will take on board feedback where it is considered appropriate.

The finalised Airspace Modernisation Strategy will be published at the end of the year alongside an annual delivery report for the Secretary of State. At this time we will also update this site with a summary of what we asked, what you said and what we did in response, and will also publish responses where we have consent to do so.

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