Airspace design legislation is unfit for purpose finds APPG Inquiry

Monday 8 July 2019. 

The Lord Kirkhope Inquiry into Lower Airspace has called for the Government to scrap and replace the legislation that sets the direction for UK lower airspace design.

The current Airspace Design Process, the Inquiry found, is unfit for purpose at ‘every level’ from Section 70 of the Transport Act 2000 to the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) interpretation of the legislation.

Commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG-GA), the Lord Kirkhope Inquiry received written evidence from nearly 50 witnesses and heard oral testimony from a dozen stakeholders.

Commenting on the Inquiry’s report, the Chair Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate said, “It has been clear to everyone in the aviation community, for some time, that the current Airspace Design Process is unfit for purpose and as a result the UK has one of the most complex airborne environments in the world.

“The outdated legislation and complex guidance that comes from it, has created a system that is overburdensome and potentially dangerous for future airspace users. I hope the Government takes these findings seriously and I look forward to their response.”

The expert panel recommended that the Department for Transport and the CAA base their airspace policy on the principles of, ‘safety, proportionality and need’.

The report also included recommendations for government to adopt aimed rationalising the way airspace is managed in the UK.

One important measure the Inquiry called for was the introduction of a ‘ratchet down’ process for removing underused volumes of controlled airspace.  

The Inquiry also suggested that the CAA make a radical shift in their internal processes for airspace change to allow for greater flexibility in future airspace decision making.

Chair of the APPG-GA, Grant Shapps MP, said “The 222 MPs and Lords of the APPG-GA welcome the new report published today. Their findings confirm the suspicions my colleagues and I have held about what is going wrong with the airspace design in this country.

“We are very grateful to our expert panel for their sterling efforts to produce this important piece of work.”

Notes to Editor

  1. A copy of the report is included with this release and can be found on the APPG-GA website.
  2. For more information please contact George Lawley on or on 07805598829.