Channel airspace restrictions planned for drone research

A number of airspace restrictions and a temporary danger area will be put in place over the English Channel this summer to accommodate a large Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) conducting atmospheric research.

The Skeldar V-200 RPA will be operated on behalf of the European Maritime Safety Agency to survey emission from ships passing through the English Channel. It will be accommodated in four areas of restricted airspace implemented by French law, as they fall within French territorial airspace, and a Temporary Danger Area, which lies within high seas airspace in the London flight information region.

Tom Gratton, airspace regulator for unmanned aircraft systems at the UK Civil Aviation Authority said: “We have worked closely with our counterparts in France to follow the principles of the Flexible Use of Airspace and reduce the impact on VFR traffic by putting in place an airspace structure that allows the different restrictions to be turned off and on as they are used by the RPA.”

The French Aeronautical Information Services will deactivate either the north region restrictions (R402 and R403) or south (R401 and EG D098) when not in use. This will allow lower than 1,500ft transits between the UK and France.

Pilots are reminded to brief thoroughly when crossing the English Channel and to familiarise themselves with both nations’ NOTAMs and the French law associated with airspace restrictions.

For full details see the UK AIP SUP 016/2019 and the French AIP SUP 081/2019. Please note, the French DGAC will submit another AIP SUP for the dates between 01 July and 30 August 2019. The restriction will be in place between 2 May to 30 August 2019.