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April 17, 2016

UK CAA allows reclassification of Belfast airspace in Northern Ireland

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given approval for the reclassification of the airspace over Belfast in Northern Ireland.

By Lopamudra Roy

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The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given approval for the reclassification of the airspace over Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Slated to come into effect from 26 May, the reclassification will change the airspace within the Belfast terminal manoeuvring area (BTMA) from a combination of Class E and D-controlled airspace to only Class D airspace.

The BTMA is a volume of airspace, situated around Belfast City and Belfast International airports, where numerous air routes converge in Northern Ireland.

Classes refer to the different forms that can be taken by the airspace volumes, and define the rules that apply within them.

These classes span from Class A, which presents the strongest restrictions, to Class G, which provides the least.

The new classification will not affect commercial air traffic moving to and from the two major airports in Belfast.

It will allow private aeroplanes equipped with radios to enter the airspace with permission from air traffic control (ATC).

"We wanted to strike the best balance between the commercial passenger operation, while at the same time maintaining access for the general aviation community."

Under coordinated arrangements, aircraft without radios will also be able to access parts of the area.

NATS Belfast International Airport general manager Michael Cockcroft said: "With two busy airports in Belfast, we wanted to strike the best balance between the commercial passenger operation, while at the same time maintaining access for the general aviation community.

"We think this change delivers that and we’re delighted the CAA has approved it."

The CAA approved the reclassification after a NATS consultation held in 2015.

Shifting the Belfast TMA to Class D aligns it with the classification used across most other airports in the UK.


Image: CAA has approved the reclassification of the Belfast airspace. Photo: courtesy of NATS Limited.

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