Southend RMZ

Steve Purdie's picture

The recent notification of the establishment of a Radio Mandatory Zone (RMZ) around Southend airport has led to a lot of discussion about the implications for free fliers. Some of the opinions expressed seem to be based on an incomplete understanding of the nature and purpose of RMZs, so this is an attempt to explain how they work.

In August 2013, the CAA published a policy for RMZs. The purpose of a RMZ is to enhance safety. Only the CAA can “notify” (i.e. establish) a RMZ, which can be “sponsored” (i.e. proposed) by an airport or other interested party. The sponsor is obliged to consider the impact of a RMZ on all airspace users and make suitable allowance for non-compliant aircraft (e.g. those without an airband radio) to gain access to the RMZ where a legitimate requirement exists. The dimensions of a RMZ have to be the minimum possible to meet the controlling authority’s operational requirements. There is provision for non-radio aircraft to make “agreed tactical arrangements” with the controlling authority.

A RMZ is very different to Class D controlled airspace (which is what Southend have applied for), in that flight in a RMZ is not necessarily controlled: it simply means that air traffic controllers will be aware of all the traffic in the zone and the position and intentions of each aircraft. In Class D airspace, full control of each aircraft is mandatory. As long as the controller knows where you are and what you want to do before you enter the RMZ, you can fly through it. The controller cannot exclude you, but it is your responsibility to remain clear if you are not sure that the controller knows about you. This knowledge can either be through prior contact on the ground, or radio contact in the air. For the latter, you need a licenced airband transceiver capable of transmitting and receiving on the appropriate frequency (130.775 MHz for Southend), and a Flight Radio Telephony licence.
On 3 July the CAA confirmed that a temporary RMZ will be established around Southend airport, commencing at midnight on 18/19 July 2014. It has the same dimensions as the control area (CTA) of the Class D airspace that Southend applied for. It extends from the surface to the base of the existing overlying controlled airspace.

We are trying to get information from Southend air traffic control about what they require in terms of prior notification and “agreed tactical arrangements” to cover the case of the very infrequent need to cross the Thames in the western end of the RMZ, and will make you aware of their requirements in the near future.

17/7/14 - Although the first NOTAM in respect off this RMZ gave a telephone contact, subsequent ones appear to require radio contact only. Consequently it would appear at this time that all pilots wishing to fly within the RMZ must either make radio contact themselves or be in a flight of aircraft, the leader of which makes contact with Southend.

Ed Bewley & Steve Purdie

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EdBewley's picture

RMZ Tactical Arrangements

The Chief Air Traffic Controller at Southend has explained that it is possible to arrange for transit of the RMZ by non-radio foot launched gliders. Southend Air Traffic Control (ATC) could offer a 30 minute window for crossing the RMZ if they were telephoned on the day with an estimate for the crossing. They would be able to offer a longer window if the pilot could guarantee a limited infringement of the RMZ, say just at the western end of the zone. It might therefore be possible to arrange for someone on the ground to give a reasonably precise ETA for a 30 minute window using a live tracking system and telephoning ATC (01702 538420) on behalf of the pilot. It would be difficult for ATC to grant a longer window for the RMZ in general, as this would restrict their other traffic significantly. Because of previous airproxes (one of which involved a paraglider), the CAA want Southend either to be in radio contact with all aircraft in the RMZ, or to be able to identify non-radio aircraft on radar. They cannot therefore offer us the flexibility they would wish to. However, the Chief ATCO was very willing to help to facilitate non-radio flights through the RMZ within the constraints imposed on him.

Steve Purdie's picture

Nota Bene

N.B.
The original infringement of the ATZ was by an unknown motorised paraglider.

Said infringement has instigated calls for the (CAA) licensing of paramotors. This may yet proceed...

Infringe controlled airspace and you could become the most unpopular paraglider/hang glider pilot in the UK!

That said, they have only an RMZ. Let's not allow them to start behaving as if it is Category D controlled airspace. This airport is currently and presently largely for the use of a few business jets for the benefit of a few commercial organisations. We, that's all other GA/VLA etc air users, potentially own the greater stake in this particular parcel of air... Southend do not have the right to impose instructions upon any traffic which is able to establish two-way communication.

steveu's picture

I beg to differ

At the risk of being the unpopular one:

Steve Purdie wrote:

The original infringement of the ATZ was by an unknown motorised paraglider.

Said infringement has instigated calls for the (CAA) licensing of paramotors. This may yet proceed...

Infringe controlled airspace and you could become the most unpopular paraglider/hang glider pilot in the UK!

Please can you point us at the report that says the paramotor pilot infringed airspace.

My own recollection of the report was that there was an airprox in UNCONTROLLED AIRSPACE, which occurred close to the ILS approach path to Southend.

The report blames the A319 pilot for not seeing and avoiding as all pilots are obliged to do in uncontrolled airspace, but it has a pop at the paramotor pilot for being so close to the ILS approach, BUT THE ILS APPROACH IS IN CLASS G AIRSPACE.

I'll fish out the link of the report I read, but maybe I've read the wrong one.

Ed Bewley wrote:

Because of previous airproxes (one of which involved a paraglider), the CAA want Southend either to be in radio contact with all aircraft in the RMZ, or to be able to identify non-radio aircraft on radar. They cannot therefore offer us the flexibility they would wish to. However, the Chief ATCO was very willing to help to facilitate non-radio flights through the RMZ within the constraints imposed on him.

This isn't quite the case as they have already entered into a fairly generous letter of agreement with Stoke, a microlight airfield inside their RMZ.

Remind me next weekend I'll forward it.

RMZ for HG/PG is effectively Class D by the back door.

SteveU.
HG/PG.

Steve Purdie's picture

The report said..

The report, paraphrased: The PPG pilot was in the right and it was the Jet that should have given way. But it was the PPG pilots fault for being there and for not having a licence that would show he had been trained to expect airliners in category G airspace at 2000' with their noses on the instrument panel... (swearing deleted!)

Actual quote:
The Board did not have a report from the paramotor pilot but members were of the unanimous opinion that he was highly likely to have seen and heard the A319 pass close by given that the two aircraft were facing each other at the same altitude. The Board could not establish whether the paramotor pilot took avoiding action but it was clear that the A319 pilot had not seen the paramotor early enough to do so himself. Both pilots were equally responsibility for collision avoidance1, and the A319 pilot was required to give way2. The Board therefore decided that the cause was an effective non-sighting by the A319 pilot. In assessing the risk, Board members noted that the A319 crew had not had time to take any avoiding action, and that the radar analysis supported the pilot’s estimate of horizontal separation. The Board were therefore unanimous in agreeing that separation had been reduced to the minimum, and that the Degree of Risk was Category A. Noting the concerns raised about ensuring the competency and training of paramotor pilots, the Board also decided to recommend that the CAA reviews the regulation and licensing of paramotor glider pilots.

PART C: ASSESSMENT OF CAUSE AND RISK

Cause: Effectively, a non-sighting by the A319 pilot.

Degree of Risk: A.

ERC Score3: 2500.

Recommendation: The CAA reviews the regulation and licensing of paramotor glider pilots.

Full report: http://www.airproxboard.org.uk/docs/423/2013082as.pdf

I have seen more recent calls for licensing of PPGs as a result of this incident, but cannot recall where exactly as I have trawled about this subject quite a bit of late...

The paramotor was so slow moving that he would have had zero chance to avoid a jet travelling at 200kt, even if he were obliged to do so.

Neville Styke's picture

So, that's alright then...

Recommendation: The CAA reviews the regulation and licensing of paramotor glider pilots.

I fail to see how reviewing or changing the regulation and licensing of paramotor glider pilots would in any way prevent this happening again, unless they're intending to make licensed paramotors carry mandatory transponders.

" It's got to be rough to be good!"