The UK continues to engage closely with EASA whilst developing a proposal to derogate from the VMC at SERA.5001 (VMC visibility and distance from cloud minima). This will focus on the continued application of the extant clear of cloud and in sight of the surface provisions below 3000 ft but only within Class D airspace.
The need for rigorous engagement with DfT, EASA and the Commission was necessary prior to extending the current exemptions concerning Special VFR in Control Zones and VMC in Class C/D/E airspace below 3000 feet.
Continuation of the Special VFR exemption has been agreed until 2 June 2016.
The engagement with DfT, EASA and the Commission has enabled the CAA to bring a better focus to the proposed derogation from SERA.5001 and the supporting exemption.
Class C has been removed from the scope of the exemption and the derogation proposal as there is no Class C airspace at or below 3000 ft in the UK FIRs.
SERA’s Class E VMC – taken from ICAO Annex 2 – requires 1000 ft vertical distance from cloud and in an environment where VFR aircraft may operate autonomously this increases the efficacy of ‘see and avoid’ between VFR aircraft and against controlled IFR aircraft operating in the same airspace, particularly when the latter are likely to operate in both IMC and VMC, passing in and out of cloud. The CAA considers this to be a safety enhancement and Class E will be removed from the scope of the derogation proposal.
The need for an orderly transition to the SERA Class E criteria is recognised, however. Therefore the Class E element of the current Class C/D/E exemption is extended to 4 February 2016 to allow for this.
At this point the UK will become aligned with this aspect of SERA and further compliant with ICAO provisions through the removal of a Difference from Annex 2.
Only one airspace (part of the Belfast TMA below 3000 ft) is affected and the CAA is in dialogue with Belfast ATC regarding the best way to address this move.
The Class D element of the current Class C/D/E airspace exemption is extended to 2 April 2016 in order to cover off the derogation proposal process.
These developments do not require changes to UK legislation, however it will be necessary to amend the Aeronautical Information Publication to reflect the Class E changes and provide guidance to industry through various other channels.
In a separate development, the CAA has undertaken a detailed review of the other Permissions and Exemptions made against SERA. This has resulted in a number of enhancements to these to improve understanding of them and in places provide additional mitigations to the impacts of SERA where scope for doing so exists within the Regulation.
Details of these will follow shortly.
SERA is derived from ICAO Annex 2 (Rules of the Air) and parts of Annex 3 (Meteorological Service for International Air Navigation) and Annex 11 (Air Traffic Services).
‘SERA Part C’ has been the subject of an EASA-led consultation on Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA 2014-05), details of which can be found at http://easa.europa.eu/document-library/notices-of-proposed-amendments/npa-2014-05. SERA Part C is expected to enter EU law in 2016 – the CAA will advise industry of related developments.