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consultation Policy on Conditional / Flexible Use Airspace in the UK

Harry Sugden

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Paul McHutchison
17 minutes ago, Harry Sugden said:

No @Phil Hutchinson, you have got the complete wrong end of the stick - please don't fret!


That's reassuring! It was more the line in the previous paragraph that "in line/sync with the real world airspace, controllers should be expected to provide UK FIS in airspace that is not active according to the real world schedule" that was concerning, as it had the potential to cause chaos in the TMA. Glad that that won't be the case! 😀

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Harry Sugden
11 hours ago, James Horgan said:

But on a sector like North, I don't have the time or capacity to split hairs about airspace activity, the same way I don't keep people high because there might be para dropping at Hibaldstow.

Exactly James - hence why on page 13, for example, the N601 (A) airspace near the Scottish TMA is suggested to be simulated as always available, because there will never be virtual activity at D510 Spadeadam.

54 minutes ago, David Woodward said:

Yesterday for example, myself and a friend flew southbound to Jersey through BHD. I filed to SKERY, he filed to BIGNO. Why? I knew it wasn't available whereas he had no knowledge and simply saw the route available on skyvector. Some pilots want reality, and some don't even know what reality is.

Exactly Dave - and the reason why this particular (changing base) approach has been taken is because there are a number of people out there who prefer the slightly more realistic approach. In your scenario, we'd be asking the West controller to give your friend a UK FIS where required, or offer them an alternative route. This is because the West controller would not be able to guarantee that there isn't going to be a pilot who treats the airspace their route takes them through as (rightly) uncontrolled.

Hence: the proposed approach is to clearly show that airspace is inactive or complex on controller displays, but to allow controllers and pilots to use the airspace in the real world equivalent way if the controller knows when to do so (via their own knowledge or TopSky). This means that if a pilot were to just assume that conditional airspace is permanently active, they will theoretically never infringe it. Even better, if they know the times of activity, they will avoid it when controllers are using the airspace to their advantage!

11 hours ago, Adam Arkley said:

You've unilaterally avoided one of my earlier questions Harry.

This is not true, Adam. I answered the question of what this is all for/due to in the paragraph beginning "To give background..." in this reply. 

11 hours ago, Adam Arkley said:

It will not expedite training, it will not improve workload management and it will not increase enjoyment. It is simply an obstacle.

Thank you for your feedback and your opinions on the policy, but please do not try to speak for the whole division. I know that this is not the opinion of a number of people.

11 hours ago, Adam Arkley said:

We've managed since the dawn of VATSIM with no formal policy or procedure on this topic, yet here we are, two weeks after you've been in post trying to solicit feedback on something that's already been decided, and then when people try to voice their opinion that it's unnecessary you tell them it's done and dusted!

Just because "we've managed", it does not mean we shouldn't take the opportunity to formalise an approach. You said yourself in your first reply that you think airspace should be either controlled or uncontrolled - so you have proposed a policy for formalisation, albeit different from mine. I have already said in a previous reply that when I said "cancel", I meant that this discussion would not cancel the fact that a policy will be established. I did not say that replies cannot influence the policy. You can continue to spin this as if I have said what this document says, goes, but that is just simply not the case.

I hope everybody else contributing to the thread understands that this is a consultation on the content, not the need for a common approach.


Thank you @Chad Byworth for putting the whole thing more simply than the document gives off. Here's another attempt at simplifying it:

(a) Make airspace around airports CAS where a position covering it is online, regardless of the real world opening hours.

(b) Make airspace that is subject to military activity permanently CAS, except in the very rare cases that the military claw it back (I have been reassured by a member of the vRAF in the past that they always seek to cause the least disruption, so this should never happen). Routes through this airspace are thus always available for flightplanning - nice and simple for pilots.

(c) Make the few examples of airspace that have specific opening hours reflect the real world. Routes through this airspace (like the FIGZI 1B STAR for Birmingham) are always available for filing, but a/c will receive a UK FIS outside the airspace hours. This is made possible by:

  • for controllers who don’t know the conditional airspace in their sector, EuroScope will be set to show the highest base ever applicable or clearly mark the airspace as conditional for them to go and investigate in the vMATS.
  • this conditional airspace being selectable in Display Settings/ARTCC High as on or off to aid the controller, or being set to display/hide automatically by using LB's TopSky pack.
  • in the future, to look at packaging TopSky with the UK Controller Pack to make use of the automatic facility to turn airspace on/off - no training would be required to use only this functionality of the plugin - or looking at requesting a similar function be added to the UK Controller Plugin.
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Jack Edwards

Thanks everyone for your input so far. Toeing the line between realism and fun is a tough job and discussing where we stand on different topics is exactly why we have this forum.

We already control conditional airspace on the network, it isn't being introduced for the first time. The purpose of this discussion is to clarify our current procedures so that they are as straightforward as possible, not reinvent the wheel. The feedback from ATC Training is that this is a question that comes up reasonably regularly in enroute mentoring.

We could have a blanket rule that all conditional airspace is always active, but that would mean a great deal of unnecessary danger areas, TRAs etc permanently active, which would be unreasonable; likewise we could have a blanket rule that all conditional airspace is never active, meaning that some routes are unusable. We want to find an incomplex middle-ground so that those who are interested can look it up and apply it. Thanks to the efforts of Harry and others who actively contribute to the Department, this is a conversation that we can afford to have!

Let's be clear, this proposal isn't complicated and isn't particularly realistic - this is VATSIM and that is what's needed.

Edited by Jack Edwards
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Charlie Watson

One solution I thought would be useful around BB was to make the airspace via FIGZI always active on VATSIM unless NOTAM'd for use by vRAF. This airspace is only conditional as a result of military activity during the day, becoming class C when the military go home. We rarely have military activity within these blocks on VATSIM, thus a NOTAM system could be a simpler solution. This said, I've only ever seen a handful of people file via FIGZI.

This is something I would probably prefer for those areas where the airspace is conditional based on military flying during the day, as we have limited military flying and more (but still not a lot) of civilian flights flying through these conditional areas out of hours.

Edited by Charlie Watson
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