Fear the rotor: London’s crowded skies

I have no idea what a 250DaN line with a 1kg camera rig attached would do to a 3 tonne helicopter and I never want to find out! After a pilot flew his machine into a crane at Vauxhall on the 16th of Jan 2013 the sky clutter in London became a matter of national debate. 16,000 helicopter movements were recorded in the London CTRs (Control zones)  in the last year.
This map shows where the helicopters fly in London.
The river is used a corridor with a max height of 2,500 feet (830m) down to surface (which I understand means 500′ or 160m). I assume kite flying (where permitted, and that’s another story) is effectively limited to 100′ or 30m under the The Air Navigation Order 2005, Article 97 (1) (3):
“Without the permission of the CAA: a kite shall not be flown at a height of more than 30 metres above ground level within the aerodrome traffic zone of a notified aerodrome during the notified operating hours of that aerodrome.”
So with a kite flying at 100′ or 30m ASL (Above Surface Level) there should be separation of  130m or 400′ between it and any helicopter observing the 500′ proximity rule. Except for emergency use and aircraft in transition. Its the exception that bothers me: most of my local  helicopter traffic is air ambulance and police operation.

London Helicopters & parks central_03-no_key

Popular kite flying spots in London are all overflown by helicopter traffic with a minimum flying height of ‘SFC’ (surface- which I take to mean 500 feet)  Parliament Hill (9) is inside both London CTR and London City CTR, Blackheath (1) is inside  London City CTR, Wimbledon Common (20) is cut by route H7 and is used as a holding area, Richmond Park (16) is cut by route H4.
KAP discussion group thread on KAP in London here
How I know how high my kite is: here
Kite Society of GB tips & rules for Kite Flying in the UK here
CAA Rules for Kite Flying (Section 1 Part 22 Article 164 ) in the UK here
KAP in London is an appealing prospect but keeping clear of the ‘copters is going to be tricky!

B

 
 
 

About billboyheritagesurvey

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9 Responses to Fear the rotor: London’s crowded skies

  1. Although I will admit to not fully understanding it all – I think you might be getting confused by thinking that controlled airspace is the same as an Airdrome Traffic Zone.

    • Thanks for taking a look Hamish,
      I may well be confused: the designation ‘Airdrome Traffic Zone’ is defined as:

      ‘An airspace of defined dimensions established around an aerodrome for the protection of aerodrome traffic’

      Which seems to overlap with controlled airspace in this case. On that basis, unless I’m mistaken, in London Heathrow and London City CTRs kite flying is limited to 100′ or 30m.

      All I want to know is where and how I can fly a kite safely in London. The confuson of terms like this when trying to find out where to fly and how high is what drove me to put the maps together!

      B

  2. THE AIR NAVIGATION ORDER 2009
    Gliders, kites and parascending parachutes
    164 (1) This article applies to gliders, kites and parascending parachutes within the United
    Kingdom.
    (2) Except with the permission of the CAA:
    (a) a glider or parascending parachute must not be launched by winch and cable or
    by ground tow to a height of more than 60 metres above ground level;
    (b) a kite must not be flown at a height of more than 30 metres above ground level
    within the aerodrome traffic zone of a notified aerodrome during the notified
    operating hours of that aerodrome;
    (c) a kite must not be flown at a height of more than 60 metres above ground level;
    and
    (d) a parascending parachute must not be launched by winch and cable or by ground
    tow within the aerodrome traffic zone of a notified aerodrome during the notified
    operating hours of that aerodrome.
    Source: http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/cap393.pdf Accessed: 21-01-2013

    THE AIR NAVIGATION ORDER 2009
    Meaning of aerodrome traffic zone
    258.—(1) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (8), the aerodrome traffic zone of a notified aerodrome which is not on an offshore installation and at which the length of the longest runway is notified as 1850 metres or less is that specified in paragraph (2).
    (2) The aerodrome traffic zone at an aerodrome referred to in paragraph (1) is the airspace extending from the surface to a height of 2000 feet above the level of the aerodrome within the area bounded by a circle centred on the notified mid-point of the longest runway and having a radius of two nautical miles.
    (3) Paragraph (4) applies if—
    (a)
    the aerodrome traffic zone specified in paragraph (2) would extend less than 1½ nautical miles beyond the end of any runway at the aerodrome; and
    (b)
    this paragraph is notified as being applicable.
    (4) The aerodrome traffic zone is that specified in paragraph (5) as though the length of the longest runway at the aerodrome were notified as greater than 1850 metres.
    (5) Subject to paragraph (8), the aerodrome traffic zone of a notified aerodrome which is not on an offshore installation and at which the length of the longest runway is notified as greater than 1850 metres is that specified in paragraph (6).
    (6) The aerodrome traffic zone is the airspace extending from the surface to a height of 2000 feet above the level of the aerodrome within the area bounded by a circle centred on the notified midpoint of the longest runway and having a radius of 2½ nautical miles.
    (7) Subject to paragraph (8), the aerodrome traffic zone of a notified aerodrome which is on an offshore installation is the airspace extending from mean sea level to 2000 feet above mean sea level and within 1½ nautical miles of the offshore installation.
    (8) The aerodrome traffic zone of a notified aerodrome excludes any airspace which is within the aerodrome traffic zone of another aerodrome which is notified for the purposes of this article as being the controlling aerodrome.
    Source: http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/cap393.pdf Accessed: 21-01-2013

    I might be doing it wrong but I assume that aerodromes where the longest runway is
    – less than 1850metres have a ATZ of a radius 2 nautical miles around…
    — if using this rule the edge of the ATZ would fall within 1.5 nautical miles of the end of any runway, the rule for greater than 1850 metres should be used.
    – greather than 1850 metres have an ATZ of a radius 2.5 nautical miles around…
    … the the notified midpoint of the longest runway

    Conversion
    2 nautical miles = 3.704 Kilometers
    2.5 nautical miles = 4.63 Kilometers

    I look for the notified mid point of the longest runway on some CAA airport charts which I have a few of (or try to find them online) then using circle creater tool (google maps) http://www.freemaptools.com/radius-around-point.htm create a circle using the midpoint, and then save and import circle to Google Earth.

    To be honest I can’t be bothered to look up the precise definition of why/how certain airfields have ATZ and others don’t – but I seem to remember from last time I looked the keyword is ‘Licenced’ aerodromes in that they have passenger/comercial traffic and have some sort of air traffic controller. There are many aerodromes which are not licensed – so don’t have aerodrome traffic zones – but they still might be very busy with light aircraft, gliders, microlights. Although not specifically defined in legislation that you have to keep away from these with your kite – you do need to keep safety in mind.

    ATZ and aerodromes have notified hours of operation – these are usually defined somewhere, if in doubt phone the aerodrome check what they are. Outside of the notified operating hours you can fly your kite to 60 metres inside the area of the ATZ – only trouble is unless you are flying in the middle of the summer it is often getting to dark for decent photos. the operating hours are sometimes shorter on certain days of the week (often Sundays).
    There may still be aircraft landing and taking off from the aerodrome outside of notified operating hours – so don’t go flying anywhere silly like in line with the end of the runway.

    I’ve only rarely flown to 60metres inside ATZ area outside of operating hours photographing archaeological sites, taking great care of the kite height.

    Military airfields are probably a little different , I give them an ATZ into google earth based on runway length and assume they operate 24 hours. Military ATZ (MATZ – extends as another circle outside ATZ) I usually ignore in terms of kite flying.

    As defined on the Aeronautical Charts Heliports don’t tend to have ATZ, I don’t want to go kite flying next to one, but I really wonder what minimum safe distance would be.

    Kite flying rules could be subject to change in the next few years with “Standardised European Rules Of The Air” coming in the effect. I don’t know the details, but certain groups of flyers in the UK particularly Paramotors etc have great concerns.

  3. Not necessarily the extents of airdrome traffic zones but you can find a fair amount of information linked from here: http://notaminfo.com/ukmap

  4. And CAA clarification came today:

    ‘Bill,

    Further to this morning’s e-mail correspondence, I can confirm that you are able to operate kite/s without CAA permission/exemption up to a height of 60m above ground level at all the locations on your list,

    Wimbledon common

    Parliament Hill

    Blackheath

    Bushey Park

    Richmond Park

    Mitcham Common

    Clissold Park

    Finsbury Park

    Osterly Park

    Lea Valley Park

    Mile End Park

    except for the following:

    • Kensington Gardens / Green Park / Hyde Park – within the Hyde Park Restricted Area (known as EG R157), therefore, a CAA exemption may be required. Please provide me with details of the specific locations within each Park, preferred heights, dates and times, so that further assessment can take place.

    • The Millennium Bridge – within the City of London Restricted Area (known as EG R158), therefore, a CAA exemption may be required. Similar to the above, please provide me with details of the specific location/s where the kite/s would be sited, preferred heights, dates and times, so that further assessment can take place.

    • Thames Chase Community Forest – this site is on the edge of the Damyns Hall Aerodrome Traffic Zone, which may be activated at certain times. Therefore, a height limitation of 30m above ground level would apply.

    If you have a requirement to operate above the 60m height thresholds at any of the other locations on your list, you are welcome to apply for CAA permission. Please let me know and I will e-mail the relevant application form to you.

    Please can I take this opportunity to remind you that permission should be sought from the landowner/s at all locations.

    I hope this helps. Please contact me if you have any further questions.
    Regards,
    David
    David Miller
    Airspace Specialist 5 (AS5)
    Airspace Utilisation (AU)
    Directorate of Airspace Policy (DAP)
    Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ‘

  5. Peter Neville says:

    Bill, That is excellent info from David Miller. I don’t know if either you or Hamish are aware of my web site but I have had for sometime a map that has movable circles of fixed radius that you can drop over an aerodrome to make sure to what height you can fly to. As the page also has geolocation if you accept then you will see your current location in relation to the chosen circle.
    I do have other mapping on the site which shows OS mapping along with some fixed circles.
    I have already created a scaled map of the London CTZ and the helicopter routes which I could drop over a Google map along with the geolocation and the above info would make a useful tool.
    http://www.anaerialview.com/maps/geoloc marker.html

    BTW following the recent incident in London the AAIB have issued an interim report. It makes very interesting reading. I didn’t mention it on the KAP DG as it is not an appropriate forum.
    http://www.aaib.gov.uk/latest_news/special_bulletin_s1_2013_published.cfm

    Cheers, Peter.

  6. Peter Neville says:

    It appears the a space has crept into the link, try this
    http://www.anaerialview.com/maps/geolocmarker.html
    Also if you view this page from a desktop PC then it will return the location of your IP provider. Likewise on a mobile device your approx location.

    Peter.

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