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 Flight Planning

Statistics and feedback suggest that pilots who do not properly plan a flight, do not keep themselves informed, have little or no  interaction with pilot groups and/or do not seek advice are most likely to fall foul of regulations, infringe airspace or have accidents.

The starting point for any successful and safe flight, even if remaining in the local area or circuit, should be a plan that includes:

1.    Your recency and fitness to fly
2.    Aircraft fit for the planned flight?
3.    Weather covering the planned flight and alternates
4.    NOTAM covering the planned flight and alternates
5.    Current enroute Charts for the planned flight and alternates
6.    Current Airfield plates for the planned flight and alternates
7.    Flight Plan if required or desirable
8.    Prior Notice and/or Prior Permission requirements
9.    General Aviation Report if required
10.  Risk analysis for your planned flight

If you are flying as PIC with no passengers there is no recency requirement.

However, it would be sensible and good Airmanship to consider a flight with an Instructor (or PIC under the exemption below) if you do not meet the *90 day recency rule, or have not flown for a some time and are rusty.

*From the Air Navigation Order (ANO) 2016:

SCHEDULE 8 FLIGHT CREW OF AIRCRAFT – LICENCES, RATINGS, QUALIFICATIONS AND MAINTENANCE OF LICENCE PRIVILEGES

PART 1 Flight Crew Licences

CHAPTER 1 General conditions

Recent experience condition

1.— (1) In this Part, a reference to the “recent experience condition” in the privileges for aeroplane, helicopter and gyroplane licences is to the condition set out in this paragraph.

(2) The condition is that the holder of a licence must not operate an aircraft carrying passengers—

(a) as pilot in command or co-pilot unless the holder has carried out, in the preceding 90 days, at least three take-offs, approaches and landings as the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft of the same type or class or a full flight simulator representing that type or class; and

(b) as pilot in command at night unless the holder—

(i) has carried out in the preceding 90 days at least one take-off, approach and landing at night as the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft of the same type or class or a full flight simulator representing that type or class; or
(ii) holds an instrument rating.

In order to fly as PIC with passengers by day, if you do not meet this requirement, you must first complete up to 3 take-offs, approaches and landings as the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft of the same type or class or a full flight simulator representing that type or class, until you meet the 90 day recency rule.

You can do this by before your planned flight with passengers, either solo or with an *Instructor.

If your most recent take off and landing was some time ago and you feel unsure of flying solo, you can complete 3 circuits with an *Instructor.

If you hold a UK Pilot Licence, i.e. NOT an EASA licence, you may make make use of a UK exception. NOTE: After April 2018 you may not use this exception if flying an EASA aircraft.

SCHEDULE 8 FLIGHT CREW OF AIRCRAFT – LICENCES, RATINGS, QUALIFICATIONS AND MAINTENANCE OF LICENCE PRIVILEGES

Exception to the recent experience condition

2.—(1) In this Part, a reference to the “recent experience exception” in the privileges for aeroplane and helicopter private pilot’s licences is to the condition set out in this paragraph.

(2) The condition is that—

(a)the intended flight will carry a single passenger who is also qualified to act as pilot in command on that flight; and
(b)the holder of the licence has informed the intended passenger that the holder does not meet the recent experience condition.

If you, or your intended PIC, are in any doubt as to the safety of the flight you are advised to seek the advice of an *Instructor.

* Instructor also includes a suitably qualified Class Rating Instructor.

Are your Pilot's licence, medical and any ratings you intend to make use of during your flight still current and will they remain so for the duration of the planned flight? While you are checking, if you plan to fly abroad is your passport and/or identity document still current and will it remain so for the duration of the planned flight?.

If you have failed a flight test and not successfully retaken and passed it, you may not fly in the capacity for which that test would have qualified you if passed. ANO 2016 states:

Chapter 4

Person not to fly after failing test

167.  The holder of a licence who, on the last occasion when the holder took a test for the purposes of articles 154 (United Kingdom airship, balloon and gyroplane licences), 155 (United Kingdom aeroplane and helicopter licences), 156 & 157(Maintenance of privileges of other certificates and ratings, including IR(R), IR, Instructor), failed that test, is not entitled to fly in the capacity for which that test would have qualified the holder had it been passed.

Be honest with yourself. If you feel under the weather stay on the ground and don't get go-itis.

As a Pilot you have a legal duty not to act as member of flight crew when unfit. ANO 2016 states:

Chapter 3

166.—(1) Subject to paragraph (6), a person must not act as a member of the flight crew of an aircraft registered in the United Kingdom if they know or suspect their physical or mental condition renders them temporarily or permanently unfit to perform such functions or to act in such capacity, including unfitness by reason of—

(a) injury or sickness;
(b) taking or using any prescribed or non-prescribed medication which is likely to interfere with the ability to perform such functions;
(c) receipt of any medical, surgical or other treatment that is likely to interfere with the ability to perform such functions;
(d) the effects of any psychoactive substance; or
(e) fatigue.

(2) Every holder of a medical certificate issued under article 161 or medical declaration in accordance with article 163(3) who—

(a) suffers any personal injury involving incapacity to undertake the holder’s functions as a member of the flight crew;
(b) suffers any significant illness involving incapacity to undertake those functions throughout a period of 21 days or more; or
(c) in the case of a woman, has reason to believe that she is pregnant,

must inform an aeromedical examiner authorised by the CAA of such injury, illness or pregnancy, as soon as possible in the case of injury or pregnancy, and as soon as the period of 21 days has expired in the case of illness.

(3) The medical certificate or declaration is suspended upon the occurrence of such injury or the expiry of such period of illness or the confirmation of the pregnancy.

(4) In the case of injury or illness the suspension ceases upon—

(a) the holder being medically assessed under arrangements made by the CAA and pronounced fit to resume the holder’s functions as a member of the flight crew; or
(b) the CAA exempting, subject to such conditions it deems appropriate, the holder from the requirement of a medical assessment.

(5) In the case of pregnancy, the suspension—

(a) may be lifted by the CAA or an aeromedical examiner authorised by the CAA for such period and subject to such conditions as the CAA or the aeromedical examiner thinks fit; and
(b) ceases upon the holder being medically assessed under arrangements made by the CAA after the pregnancy has ended and pronounced fit to resume her functions as a member of the flight crew.

(6) Paragraph (1) does not apply to the holder of a Part-FCL licence when the holder is exercising the privileges of the licence in an EASA aircraft.

If you have had a good night out before flying the next day be very careful that your blood alcohol level has returned to normal, you are hydrated and not hungover. It is no good thinking "8 hours bottle to throttle" and you will be OK. It may be 12 hours or more before you are no longer under the influence of alcohol if you had a very good night out. In the UK, the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 sets out a prescribed alcohol limit for people involved in aviation activities, including flight crew, of:

(a) in the case of breath, 9 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres,
(b) in the case of blood, 20 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres, and
(c) in the case of urine, 27 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres.

If you are planning to fly your own aircraft, or one that you regularly fly, there may be a familiarity that results in you not checking paperwork as diligently as someone who is an occasional hirer of an aircraft, or fly several different aircraft. Especially if you are in a rush to get airborne.

Even if you are not planning to land away or leave UK airspace these are the basics that you need to consider, as relevant:

⦁    Sufficient Engine Hours or time left before an inspection date
⦁    Sufficient Propeller Hours or time left before an inspection date
⦁    Sufficient Airframe Hours or time left before an inspection date
⦁    Sufficient time left on the certificate of airworthiness certificate or permit to fly

If the aircraft is close to any limits on the above, does it allow enough time if you have to divert for unplanned reasons?

Is your:

  • Aircraft Insurance and cover valid for the the duration of the planned flight and person/s flying?
  • Radio Licence valid for the the duration of the planned flight and up to date with installed equipment?

Documents to be Carried:

There are significant differences in the aircraft documents to be carried depending on:

  1. EASA aircraft or EASA Permit to Fly
  2. Permit to Fly or Annex II (Non-EASA Aircraft Registered in the UK)
  3. UK Airspace only
  4. Foreign Airspace (primarily Europe)

ELT/PLB:

For EASA aircraft operating under Under Part-NCO an emergency locator transmitter (ELT), or personal locator beacon (PLB) for an aircraft with 6 or fewer seats, needs to be carried on every aircraft for every flight.

Implementing rule NCO.IDE.A.170 sets out the requirement to have an ELT or a PLB fitted.

For Permit to Fly or Annex II aircraft registered in the UK there is no requirement to fit an ELT or PLB. However, outside UK airspace there may be a requirement and some National Authorities my not permit PLB's as an alternate.

For around £200 you can purchase a PLB, which could save your life.

Seat Belts

Seat belts are required for all passengers, with a shoulder strap for flight crew. A child restraint device is required for every infant under two years. Further detail on what constitutes an adequate child restraint device is in the Acceptable Means of Compliance.

First-aid Kit

A First-aid Kit needs to be carried on the aircraft.

Content of First-aid Kit:

(a) First-aid  kits should be equipped with appropriate and sufficient medications  and instrumentation. However, these kits should be amended by the operator according to the characteristics of the operation (scope of operation, flight duration, number and demographics of passengers, etc.).
(b) The following should be included in the First-aid Kit:
(1) bandages (assorted sizes),
(2) burns dressings (large and small),
(3) wound dressings (large and small),
(4) adhesive dressings (assorted sizes),
(5) antiseptic wound cleaner,
(6) safety scissors,
(7) disposable gloves.

Hand Fire Extinguishers

A fire extinguisher is required in aeroplanes of more than 1200 kg MTOM.

Flight over Water

Life jackets are required in single engined aircraft when out of gliding distance of land, or where there is a likelihood of ditching (presumably in the event of an engine failure). Lifejackets are required in all aeroplanes operating more than 50 miles from land, and in addition the pilot-in-command must decide whether other equipment, like life-rafts and flares, are necessary.

Fuel Reserves

The PIC is responsible for ensuring that there is sufficient fuel on board to complete the planned flight and additional fuel to allow for a diversion plus a reserve of usable fuel on board, up to 45 minutes but no less than 30 minutes remaining.

Additionally, the PIC is also responsible for ensuring that there is sufficient Oil and, if relevant, Coolant for the duration of the planned flight.

The PIC is responsible for obtaining aviation forecasts of the weather for the whole of the planned route. It is recommended that you consider the forecast conditions in detail for up to 1 hour before/after planned departure/arrival time.

The UK ANO 2016 details the duties of the PIC in respect of weather (meteorological) conditions in Section 2:

SECTION 2 - Duties of Pilot in Command

Meteorological conditions

(4) The pilot in command must only commence or continue—

(a) a Visual Flight Rules flight if—

(i) the latest available  meteorological information indicates  that the weather conditions along the route and at the intended destination aerodrome at the  estimated time of use will be at or above the applicable Visual Flight Rules operating minima; and
(ii) the pilot in command has planned an alternative course of action to provide  for the eventuality that the flight cannot be completed as planned because of weather conditions;

(b) a flight under Instrument Flight Rules towards the planned destination aerodrome if the latest available meteorological information indicates that, at the estimated time of arrival, the weather conditions at the destination or at least one  destination alternate aerodrome are at or above the applicable aerodrome  operating minima notified, prescribed or otherwise designated by the relevant competent authority.

Visual Flight Rules, including visibility and cloud base minima, are defined in each national AIP ENR1.2. You should check these carefully, as relevant to your planned flight, for any differences to UK regulation. For the UK AIP ENR1.2 entry see here.

The criteria have been revised in 2015 to reflect the Single European Rules of the Air (SERA). You can read more about the key UK changes and more about SERA Implementation on the CAA Website.

In the UK, the CAA contract the UK Meteorological Office (Met Office) to provide the aviation forecasts each State is required to provide by international agreement (ICAO).

To obtain the following services free you need to register here:

  • TAF's
  • METAR's
  • Regional Forecasts (SIGMETs, AIRMET'S, Volcanic Ash Advisories, Regional Pressure Settings, London CTA Helicopter Forecast)
  • Briefing Charts (Surface Pressure, Significant Weather (Low Level) & Spot Winds)
  • Maps with weather overlay options

More features are available on subscription, as are training courses.

A list of abbreviations used in METAR and TAF can be found here.

These days it is more likely that you will obtain your en-route weather from sources that display it on a map or chart overlay on a mobile device. If you do, make sure that the weather information presented  is complete and also the most current.

For a larger picture of the weather and trend, especially if you are traveling a long distance, the usefulness of Briefing Charts, such as F215, F214, F415, F414 should not be overlooked. 

Other Aviation Weather Sites

Inclusion of a site here does not imply approval or recommendation or that it is an "official" weather source. Use of these sites is at your own risk and you should satisfy yourself that the information provided meets your needs before relying on it. The base source of the data is not always apparent and some sites may be presenting data from the same source.

www.flyingineurope.be GA Flying in Europe
www.meteox.com European Rainfall Radar
www.pilotfriend.com Pilot Friend
Orbifly Met Map Map based clickable weather info
AllMetSat TAF METAR and Satellite Imagery
www.weatherunderground.com A variety of weather information from around the World
BlitzOrtung Map-based presentation of lightning discharges.
XCWeather Map based weather for Europe with animation
Flyer Weather TV Flyer Magazine UK flying weather forecast video

Weather Training Courses for  Pilots

Training courses aimed at Pilots are available from:

UK MET Office

Weather School

It is essential that you obtain the most recent set of NOTAM's prior to flight. You should be able to filter the NOTAMs to cover your intended route, including any diversions, or the area you intend to fly in.

It has not been unknown for last minute NOTAM's closing airspace to be issued, which could prevent you departing from or landing at your intended airfields, or close a section of your planned route.

Planned restrictions are issued as Air Information Circulars on www.ais.org.uk. For checking just prior to flight, phone 0500 354802, or 44 20 8750 3939, for the very latest flight restrictions.

Having gone to the trouble of obtaining NOTAM's - READ THEM and UNDERSTAND THEM! Make a clear note of any that will affect your intended flight and plan to comply with them.

If a NOTAM is issued while you are airborne, unless you are maintaining Radio contact with a flight information service, or have some other service that updates and alerts you in flight, you will not be made aware of the change. That does not excuse you from having to comply with any restriction imposed by such a NOTAM. Neither does being non-radio.

The official NOTAM service provider in the UK is NATS, whose NOTAM website can be found here. You will need to register for free. Using this service will create a log of your NOTAM search, which could be of use if you dispute any NOTAM. 

If you get NOTAM's from any other source, including mobile device apps or airborne update services, however reputable, it will be your responsibility to ensure that the list is complete.

For most Countries, NOTAMs are published in accordance with ICAO standards via the Aeronautical Fixed Telephone Network (AFTN).

NOTAM's are issued to notify Airmen of matters pertinent to flight, including:

  • hazards, e.g. Parachuting, Air Displays, large gatherings, kite flying, etc
  • temporary retricted areas
  • danger area activity
  • airfield or runway closures
  • airfield restrictions
  • inoperable navigational aids
  • temporary erection of obstacles near airfields
  • inoperable lights on tall structures
  • dangerous regions for overflight

Separate NOTAM series may be published:

BIRDTAM - flocks of birds in an area
SNOWTAM - runway, taxiway and apron status for snow, ice and standing water
ASHTAM - volcanic ash or dust contamination

Each European State populates the European AIS Database (EAD) with its own NOTAM and the NOTAM of non-members are maintained centrally by Eurocontrol.

The NOTAM system is archaic in terms of the technical specification, which means that the NOTAM system is not designed for graphical display or internet browser usage, with hyperlinks to content. As it is a world wide system, adopted at ICAO, the system is based on the lowest level of technology available to all member countries. Changes are subject to a majority vote at ICAO and take around 7 years to implement.

However, despite limitations, it is now possible to obtain route and area briefings, to filter out unwanted NOTAM as far as possible, and a number of services now offer NOTAM plotted on charts. That does not mean that you won't get NOTAM that do not affect your planned route as some NOTAM are issued for whole FIR's and there are often non-expiring NOTAM (PERM).

To plot a NOTAM on a chart, the service providers have to interpret the geographic location and area from the Q) line. Normally the NOTAM extent is shown as a circle, based on a radius around a geographic centre point, but some NOTAM are for irregular areas, which need separate decoding by the service providers. To filter for your planned flight times, the date and time range from the B) and C) lines are used.

When is a Flight Plan Required?

From the UK AIP ENR 1.10, a flight plan shall be submitted prior to operating:

(a) any flight or portion thereof to be provided with an air traffic control service;
(b) any IFR flight within advisory airspace;
(c) any flight within or into areas, or along routes designated by the competent authority, to facilitate the provision of flight information, alerting and search and rescue services;
(d) any flight within or into areas, or along routes designated by the competent authority to facilitate coordination with appropriate military units or with air traffic services units in adjacent States in order to avoid the possible need for interception for the purpose of identification;
(e) any flight across international borders, unless otherwise prescribed by the States concerned. In the UK this requirement includes any flight that will cross the UK FIR boundary;
(f) any flight planned to operate at night if leaving the vicinity of an aerodrome.

Flight plans should be filed at least 1 hour before EOBT.

It is advisable to submit a flight plan (VFR or IFR) if the flight involves flying:

(a) Over the sea, more than 10nm from the UK coastline;
(b) over sparsely populated areas where search and rescue operations would be difficult;
(c) into an area in which search and rescue operations are in progress. The flight plan should include the expected times of entering and leaving the area and the details must also be passed to the appropriate ACC. The ACC will notify the ARCC.

A flight plan may be submitted for any flight.

There may be different requirements in other countries, including how a flight plan can be submitted, which can be found in the relevant national AIP ENR 1.10.

It is a requirement that a copy of a filed flight plan is carried on board the aircraft.

How to File a Flight Plan

The UK CAA have published CAP 694 - The UK Flight Planning Guide.

Rather than include extracts from CAP 694 here, which may be updated, it is recommended that you read the relevant content yourself.

In the UK you may use the Assisted Flight Plan Exchange (AFPEx). As a private individual you may apply for a free account here.

Once the account is activated you will have your own AFTN address to send and receive messages, including filing flight plans. The system requires the use of Java on either PC or Apple devices and browsers that support this.

The flight plan form is assisted, it will normally enter the correct addresses for the planned route and has help options for the data fields. But, you are still responsible for ensuring that the addresses are complete. You should also check that you include the correct equipment list for your aircraft, especially if you have been used to just entering S/C.

You AFPEx account will be based on the Home Airfield that you specified in your application. This will be the default point of departure, so make sure that you change this if you are departing from another airfield!

You may use AFPEx for any flight plan as the UK is part of the Integrated Initial Flight Plan Processing System (IFPS). In France it may be worth using their Olivia System to file your return or onward flight plan.

There are also many alternative, non-state, flight plan filing services, some free and some subscription. You use these at your own risk.  Also do check the national AIP ENR 1.10 for any restrictions on how flight plans can be submitted within the country.

It is a requirement that a copy of a filed flight plan is carried on board the aircraft.

Closing the Flight Plan

There is no requirement to close a Flight Plans in the UK. However, if you wish to clolse a flight plan you can do so by telephoning the AFPEx Helpdesk on 0845 601 0483.

If you are arriving at an airfield in the UK that does not have an ATSU, or it will be closed at the time of arrival, you should nominate a "responsible person" to alert the AFPEx Helpdesk on 0845 601 0483 if overdue action is required.

In most other countries you are required to close a flight plan on landing, and within 30 minutes of your flight plan ETA, at an airfield where there is no ATSU or the ATSU is closed at the time of landing. Make sure that you have a note of the relevant telephone number/s. Failure to close your flight plan in these circumstances may result in overdue action being started and you receiving a bill for the cost.

Activating your Flight Plan

If you are departing from a non-ATC aerodrome you will need to ask for your flight plan to be activated. An A/G or AFISO aerodrome may already have the facility to do this, but they may not. If they don't, this can be done via you nearest LARS unit, FIS unit, or nearest aerodrome with ATC after you are airborne. You will need to state your UTC/Zulu take off time.

Modifications

A change message (CHG) should be sent if there are changes to your flight, such as aircraft type, speed, level, or route. However any changes to callsign, point of departure and/or destination will require the original flight plan to be cancelled and a new one submitted.

This can be done using AFPEx or by calling the AFPEx 24 Hour helpdesk number above. Your airfiled of departure may also  have the facility to do this.  If you have used another flight planning service you would need to check with them how to modify a flight plan.

Delays

A delay message (DLA) should be sent if your estimated off-block time (EOBT) is more than:

  • 30 minutes late for an IFR flights in controlled airspace, or
  • 60 minutes late for everything else

This can be done using AFPEx or by calling the AFPEx 24 Hour helpdesk number above. Your airfiled of departure may also  have the facility to do this.  If you have used another flight planning service you would need to check with them how to modify a flight plan.

Cancellations

Similarly, should the flight be cancelled for any reason, a cancellation message (CNL) message should be sent.

This can be done using AFPEx or by calling the AFPEx 24 Hour helpdesk number above. Your airfiled of departure may also  have the facility to do this.  If you have used another flight planning service you would need to check with them how to modify a flight plan.

Prior Notice Required (PNR)

Some Airfields/Airports require prior notice of your arrival, normally for the provision of services such as Customs, Immigration, Fuel, Handling, Parking, Hangarage.

If you are going to require services at Weekends or on Public Holidays there may be a requirement to give prior notice by close of business on the last working day before planned arrival.

In the case of Customs and Immigration, the PNR requirement is likely to include your departure if you are leaving the EU Schengen area.

Any such permanent requirement, including the services available, will be notified, if a licensed Airfield/Airport, in the relevant national AIP AD Specific textual entry.

This information may also be included in Flight Guides, but you should ensure it is complete and up to date. In all cases the current AIP entry takes precedence, unless there is a change promulgated by NOTAM, AIRAC or AIC and the AIP textual entry has yet to be updated and published.

If you have given prior notice and have to change plans you should make that known as soon as possible.

Prior Permission Required (PPR)

It is normal that the permission of the landowner or authorised operator of an Airfield or Airport is required prior to use, either arrival or departure. There may also be a requirement for prior permission to be obtained for Training use, Night use, use outside normal operating hours, etc.

PPR requirements, for a licensed Airfield/Airport, will be notified in the in the relevant national AIP AD Specific textual entry.

This information may also be included in Flight Guides, but you should ensure it is complete and up to date. In all cases the current AIP entry takes precedence, unless there is a change promulgated by NOTAM, AIRAC or AIC and the AIP textual entry has yet to be updated and published.

For unlicensed Airfields not listed in the national AIP it is your responsibility to contact the owner and obtain prior permission. You cannot just turn up and land, except in an emergency!

Do not assume that you can obtain PPR on the radio.

If you have obtained PPR and subsequently do not use it you should let the owner/operator know as soon as possible.

UK General Aviation Report (GAR) Requirements

If you are flying to/from the UK you will need to submit a GAR. The GAR Form Submission Instructions may be read and downloaded here.

The notification requirements for the GAR form are:

  • Inbound from EU countries (excluding Republic of Ireland) – 4 hours prior to arrival
  • To/From the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man (the Common Travel Area (CTA))– 12 hours prior to departure/arrival
  • To/From other non-EU countries – 24 hours prior to departure/arrival

You can submit the GAR form via the following methods:

If anyone onboard the aircraft has a non-EU or non-UK passport, you will need to consider their visa requirements as well.

Submission of a GAR does NOT replace the need to comply separately with any PPR, PNR or flight plan requirements.

You will receive acknowledgement by email if you submit via the OnlineGAR method. Submissions via email or fax will receive NO ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of the GAR submission. If you hear nothing to the contrary, continue with your planned flight knowing that you MAY be checked either before departure from or on arrival into the UK.

If you are using another GAR submission service provider you should check what, if any, acknowledgement you will get.

General Declarations (GENDEC's) to other Countries

Many countries require GENDEC's to be submitted either in advance or on arrival to the relevant Authority, normally Customs or Police. Sometimes these are only required at certain airports of arrival. We suggest that, if there are no sources of country specific GENDEC's, you take a printed copy of your UK GAR form. We are aware of the following online sources for GENDEC's:

Alderney & Guernsey: https://www.gov.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=90475&p=0

Ireland: http://flyinginireland.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/IrishGARForm.pdf

Jersey: http://www.gov.je/Travel/MaritimeAviation/CivilAviation/Pages/PrivatePilots.aspx

Netherlands : https://www.gendec.nl/

In this section we suggest that before you aviate you take a moment to carry out a brief risk assessment of your route and build in some risk reduction options. Of course it assumed that you have properly planned your flight in the first place!

Risk factors and risk reduction:

1. Not flown recently?

  • allow wider lateral margins with controlled/restricted airspace and ATZ's
  • allow greater altitude/flight level margins to base of controlled airspace
  • allow greater altitude/flight level clearance if flying above controlled airspace
  • pay more attention to your actual position and altitude

2. Not current/low hours on the aircraft you will fly?

  • allow wider lateral margins with controlled/restricted airspace and ATZ's
  • allow greater altitude/flight level margins to base of controlled airspace
  • allow greater altitude/flight level clearance if flying above controlled airspace
  • pay more attention to your actual position and altitude

3. Not current/familiar with any navigational equipment?

  • before departure make sure any settings are as you want them
  • make sure any airspace display or alarms are set appropriately for your planned route 
  • don't use advanced/unfamiliar features close to or in controlled airspace with a clearance - concentrate on flying, basic navigation and communicating
  • use any Direct To options with extreme caution
  • use extreme caution if you change the flight plan while in flight

4. Using carry on (mobile) flight planning and tracking?

  • before departure make sure any settings are as you want them
  • make sure any airspace display or alarms are set appropriately for your planned route 
  • don't use advanced/unfamiliar features close to or in controlled airspace with a clearance - concentrate on flying, basic navigation and communicating
  • use any Direct To options with extreme caution
  • use extreme caution if you change the flight plan while in flight
  • do not use in isolation from other navigational sources

5. Flying under or close to Controlled Airspace?

  • always ensure that you are using correct altimeter pressure setting for the airspace, i.e. QNH or Standard Pressure for Flight Levels. Beware if you have an airfield QFE or Regional Pressure setting set!
  • if equipped and there is one, listen in to the relevant frequency with the correct listening squawk set on your transponder with ALT set (check that your reported FL is correct).
  • do not fly up to the base vertically or along the boundary, give yourself and the controller some breathing space!
  • give yourself wider margins in turbulent air, strong winds pushing you towards airspace, strong thermals, poor/reducing visibility, flying into sun or if you have any other distractions - including passengers!

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