Published on October 10th, 2021 | by Mark Dwyer


Disappointment as New Airspace Change Proposal Published

Pilots in the aviation community have expressed disappointment and dismay at the latest airspace change proposal (ACP) published by the IAA. Following a 4 week delay, the much anticipated ACP was published on Thursday evening. However, in this iteration, only Donegal, Sligo, Ireland West and Waterford Airports were included. Despite promises of giving back airspace to the GA community, none of the control zones at the four airports have been made any smaller and large CTA blocks have appeared. There is no mention of Shannon, Kerry or Cork Airports in this version of the proposal.

In total, 92 submissions were made on the last airspace proposal that contained 864 comments. Unlike the last round, the public comments have not been published. Flying In Ireland has seen many of the submissions and it appears that most of the concerns and suggestions have been largely ignored by the IAA.

When published in January this year, the Review of Irish Airspace outlined three objectives:

  • Facilitate Continuous Climb and Continuous Descent operations (CCO/CDO) to/from airports.
  • Realise Environmental benefits.
  • Simplify the airspace structure where possible.

In addition, as part of the original review, one of the Airspace Construction Principles was: “Proposed airspace design resulting in a reduction of Class C airspace where possible.” Contrary to this statement, vast swathes of uncontrolled airspace will revert to procedurally controlled Class C airspace under the proposal.

This Airspace Change Proposal is likely to have a negative effect on the environment due to extra track miles required to avoid the new airspace blocks. If pilots request and are granted a clearance to transit the airspace, only procedural separation is available at the regional airports meaning increased separation between aircraft and extra holding. An easy environmental solution would be to reduce the footprint of control zones which would allow aircraft at lower levels to take more direct routings but this has not been adopted by the Authority.

Arguably, none of the three objectives of the airspace review have been achieved by the IAA. In terms of CCO/CDO, no airline submitted a comment to indicate they had an issue with continuous climb or descent operations. The proposed airspace is now more complicated than the existing structure and no environmental impact has been assessed as part of the review.

A workshop using Microsoft teams will be held on Thursday, 21st October 2021, time to be confirmed. Comments from the 7th October updated ACP shall be accepted up to close of business on Thursday 4th November with the final airspace published on Thursday 2nd December for viewing. The effective date is planned for 24th February 2022.

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About the Author

Mark is an airline pilot flying the Boeing 737 for a major European airline. In addition he is also a Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Base Training Captain on the B737. Outside of commercial flying Mark enjoys flying light aircraft from the smallest 3 Axis microlights up to heavier singles. He is also an instructor and EASA Examiner on single engines and a UK CAA Examiner. He flies the Chipmunk for the Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF). Mark became the Chairman of the National Microlight Association of Ireland (NMAI) in 2013 and has overseen a massive growth in the organisation. In this role he has worked at local and national levels. In 2015, Mark won ‘Upcoming Aviation Professional Award’ at the Aviation Industry Awards sponsored by the IAA. Mark launched this website back in 2002 while always managing the website, he has also been Editor and Deputy Editor of FlyingInIreland Magazine from 2005 to 2015.

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