A pilot has pleaded guilty to flying his helicopter through a Red Arrows display, causing the world famous aerobatic team to abandon their routine. Luton Magistrates’ Court heard Andrew Kane (62) from Leighton Buzzard, flew his Gazelle helicopter into restricted airspace, put in place to protect the Red Arrows’ display, at an air show at Old Warden aerodrome in Bedfordshire in May this year.
Pleading guilty to the offence at a hearing on 9 August 2016, as well as an additional charge relating to inadequate preparation for his flight, Mr Kane was fined £2,500. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which brought the prosecution was awarded costs of £500. In passing sentence, the Chair of the Bench said both offences were extremely serious. Mr Kane’s pilot licence has been suspended by the CAA since the incident occurred.
The CAA said that it was determined to tackle the problem of pilots infringing restricted or controlled airspace, in order to protect public safety. Pilots are legally obliged to check for any airspace restrictions that may affect their journey as part of their pre-flight planning routine; such information is readily available through multiple sources. A temporary restricted area such as the one in place for the Red Arrows display is always the subject of a Notice to Airmen (known as a NOTAM), a technical brief aimed specifically at pilots. These briefs can be found on official websites and automated telephone hotlines, as well as commercial flight planning tools available online and via apps.
The Red Arrows have experienced similar incidents in the past. In 2013 they were forced to halt a display at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone after a light aircraft infringed the airspace around their display.
The CAA may now provisionally suspend a pilot’s licences, where appropriate, for airspace infringements, pending further investigation.
The CAA is also reminding pilots of their responsibility to check all aspects of their pre-flight planning and that infringements are not acceptable. Infringements such as this can lead to significant penalties including the loss of your pilot licence. Pilots now have multiple ways to access the relevant information via the internet and mobile apps, which has made infringements of restricted airspace avoidable.
The CAA will continue to remind pilots about the importance of avoiding infringements and will not hesitate to prosecute where appropriate.
The charges brought against Andrew Kane were:
(1) On 8 May 2016, being the commander of aircraft on a flight from Cromer to Stanbridge, Bedfordshire, Andrew Kane did not take all reasonable steps to satisfy himself that the flight could safely be made taking into account the latest information available as to the route before the aircraft took-off in contravention of Articles 86(2) and 241(6) of the Air Navigation Order 2009.
(2) On 8 May 2016, Andrew Kane was the commander of an aircraft which flew within restricted airspace in the vicinity of Shuttleworth Old Warden aerodrome, Bedfordshire, in contravention of Regulation 3(1) of the Air Navigation (Restriction of Flying)(Jet Formation Display Teams)(No. 3) Regulations 2016 and Articles 161(4) and 241(6) of the Air Navigation Order 2009.
Airspace Restricted Areas (Temporary) are listed on the website of the air traffic control body NATS as ‘Mauve’ Aeronautical Information Circulars. The list includes the full Red Arrows display programme, http://www.nats-uk.ead-it.com/public/index.php%3Foption=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=162&Itemid=59.html
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