Proposed changes to VFR Minima in Class D Airspace will cause ‘additional risk’


The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is proposing that the Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) distance from cloud minima in Class D airspace be increased in line with Standard European Rules of the Air (SERA).

Under new proposals, aircraft flying under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) within Class D airspace below 3,000ft will be required to maintain 1,000ft vertical distance from cloud. The change would end the CAA exemption under which flights are permitted to remain clear of cloud and in sight of the surface.

Commenting on the proposals, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation’s (APPG-GA) dedicated Airspace Working Group, Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate, said “Whilst it is noted that the proposal permits special VFR (SVFR) flight in Control Zones (CTRs), a significant number of General Aviation (GA) pilots will be forced to operate closer to the ground than is currently the case when operating in Class D airspace.

“There does not appear to be a risk that justifies removing the existing CAA exemption; it’s all about International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and SERA compliance. However, if the CAA exemption is removed as proposed, aircraft operating VFR that are not using SVFR will be forced to fly closer to the ground, which clearly introduces additional risk.”

The CAA intends to mitigate the impacts of the SVFR changes on air traffic control (ATC) units through a refinement of the UKs separation requirements.

Chair of the APPG-GA, Grant Shapps MP added “We believe as a point of principle that airspace regulation should reasonably meet the needs of GA. At a fundamental level, this consultation raises questions about the adequacy of the UK airspace regulator representation of GA needs during their involvement in the development of pan-European and ICAO airspace requirements.

“The APPG-GA encourages pilots to carefully consider the CAA’s consultation and to respond to the CAA with their views”.