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CAA impose de facto UAV testing zone ahead of official decision

The Welsh Assembly Government applied in March to the Civil Aviation Authority for its unbiased and impartial decision on whether to allow the testing of UAVs over West Wales, supposedly taking full account of the issues raised in the consultation carried out by WAG in Summer 2009. The decision is expected to take several months to determine.

However the Ministry of Defence can’t wait that long to begin trials of it’s Watchkeeper UAV programme. The CAA on March 29th 2010 imposed flying restrictions for 7 months on an area 6 nautical miles (6.9 miles) radius from West Wales Airport. An area of 150 sq miles.

Later this year, in order to facilitate flights between West Wales Airport and the Sennybridge military area, a further restricted flying corridor will be created.

Given that the CAA has now made its intentions clear, the struggle to stop the creation of the UAV testing zone is all but over. The campaign to make West Wales a “centre of excellence” for protest against military UAVs has begun.

RESTRICTION OF FLYING REGULATIONS – WEST WALES AIRPORT (ABERPORTH)
29 MARCH – 29 OCTOBER 2010

1. Introduction

1.1 Trial and demonstration flights by Unmanned Aircraft will take place at West Wales Airport during period 29 March to 29 October 2010. The Secretary of State for Transport has, therefore, deemed it necessary to introduce the following Restriction of Flying Regulations under Article 161 of the Air Navigation Order 2009 (military aircraft should comply with JSP552 201.135.9):

a. West Wales Airport – Subject to paragraph b, between 0700 and 1700 on each day from Monday to Friday inclusive, beginning with 29 March to 29 October 2010, no aircraft is to fly below 5000 ft amsl within the area of a circle having a radius of 6 nm whose centre 520653N 0043334W;

b. Paragraph a, does not apply to:

i. any aircraft flying with the permission of the Airport Manager West Wales Airport – call ATC on 122.150 MHz;

ii. any aircraft in the service of the Chief Officer of Police for Dyfed-Powys Police; and

iii. any aircraft in the service of HM Coastguard.

2. It is proposed to introduce a further Restricted Area (Temporary) (RA(T)) later in 2010 for Unmanned Aircraft testing and evaluation. This second RA(T) will be in the form of a corridor and will provide a link between EG D210 (Aberporth) and EG D203 (Sennybridge). The lower vertical extent of this RA(T) is anticipated to be FL 80, with an anticipated highest upper limit of FL 170. Full details of this RA(T) will be promulgated by Mauve AIC and NOTAM.

3. Details of Restricted Airspace feature in the daily AIS Information Line message (0500-354802) and will be included on the Pre-flight Information Bulletins (PIB) through the AIS Web site at http://www.ais.org.uk.

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The document can be downloaded as a PDF here