Olympic airspace restrictions begin

Olympic airspace restrictions begin 16 Jul, 12, Source: Royal Air Force

Extra airspace restrictions around London and the Southeast, designed to ensure a safe and secure London 2012 Olympic Games, began on Saturday 14th July.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and the Ministry of Defence have worked together to inform airspace users about the restrictions and how people can continue to use UK airspace during the Olympics.

Now, equipment and personnel from the Royal Navy (RN), Army and Royal Air Force (RAF) is in place to enforce the restrictions and provide enhanced protection for the period the temporary restrictions are in force.

In the months leading up to the Games the CAA has delivered the largest pilot education programme ever undertaken in the UK. Their aim has been to ensure everyone in the aviation community is aware of the new airspace restrictions. Pilots are required by law to understand airspace changes before each flight and the CAA has written to all private pilots, distributed over 60,000 leaflets and conducted briefings to raise awareness.

The restrictions are part of an air security plan that will be enforced by Armed Forces. The air security plan includes:

– RAF Typhoon fast jets, which deployed to RAF Northolt on 9 July;

– RAF Puma helicopters with RAF Regiment sniper teams, which deployed to Ilford on 11 July; (see also this HeliHub.com story)

– Army Rapier and Starstreak ground based air defence systems, which arrived at six sites in London on 12 July;

– RN Sea King Helicopters which will deploy to RAF Northolt on 13 July; (see also this HeliHub.com story)

– Helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy’s largest ship, serving as a base for helicopter operations as well as accommodation for personnel, will return to the capital on the evening of 13 July. (see also this HeliHub.com story)

Phil Roberts, Assistant Director Airspace Policy at the CAA, said: Phil Roberts, Assistant Director Airspace Policy at the CAA, said: “The Government’s airspace security restrictions will primarily affect private pilots so, together with pilot associations and other bodies, we’ve been undertaking a significant programme to alert pilots to how they need to comply and keep flying during the Games.”

Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha, Commanding Olympics Air Security, said: “Our air security preparations build on the decades of Royal Air Force experience in controlling the air to secure the UK. We have worked with the Home Office and the police, and with the Civil Aviation Authority and NATS, to deliver a plan that balances the need for security with the desire to minimise disruption to other air users.

“With the additional capabilities we are adding from the RAF, and from our colleagues in the Royal Navy and the Army, this is a robust plan that enables us to respond appropriately to a range of possible situations.”

More information about the restrictions, and the supporting material that pilots will need to be able to fly safely during the restricted period, can be found athttp://olympics.airspacesafety.com/.

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