MOD Hebrides Range is operated by QinetiQ on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MOD). A Danger Area (DA), the EG D701 complex, is established to allow hazardous activities to take place within airspace reserved for that purpose. The Range is used for a variety of tasks, including the release of short, medium and long-range munitions. Over the years the Range has evolved to cater for new requirements of the MOD to support test and evaluation of modern weapon systems.
Reasons for the change
Current EG D701 Danger Area Complex
To accommodate modern weapons systems, the current size of the Range is insufficient to support all the activities. Additional airspace, mainly to accommodate the Safety Traces, is currently promulgated by Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) which is not considered to be a satisfactory long term solution by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Safety and Airspace Regulation Group (SARG). (Maritime users of the sea below the active parts of the DA are also informed through Notices to Mariners). The use of NOTAMS does not allow the DA booking system to be fully integrated into systems and processes employed by the UK Airspace Management Cell (AMC) and the Eurocontrol Network Manager enabling harmonised and dynamic network planning. Consequently it has been decided that a formal UK Airspace Change Proposal (ACP) must be undertaken to accommodate current and future weapons systems tests. The aim of the ACP is not to gain more airspace but to regularise the process to support these activities.
What the proposed change involves
The ACP regularises the use of airspace to the north, west and south of the existing DA. The design of the revised DA also takes into account maritime users directly beneath the airspace. The proposed design has been divided into multiple sub-areas to allow flexible and efficient short term utilisation of airspace specifically matched to individual trials. In addition a Letter of Agreement (LoA) and a new Protocol are being drafted in parallel with the consultation. These will include conditions on the use of the Range to minimise disruption to other airspace users, e.g. transatlantic flights.
The purpose of the ACP is to regularise the current Range activities which are expected to continue as they are, consequently there will be little or no environmental impact compared to the current situation. The proposed design has been developed around the existing and future Air Traffic Services (ATS) route structure. Enhanced management procedures will enable:
Only those required DA sub-areas to be booked for the exact hours needed, leading to fewer extended routes by General Air Traffic / airlines.
In some cases, aircraft to fly more expeditiously in the vicinity of the Range, requiring less re-routing and maximising the availability of Oceanic Entry Points
More efficient planning at a European level due to more precise airspace designation.
Planned Implementation Date
Subject to any changes arising from the consultation process and regulatory approval by CAA, the implementation of the proposed change is planned with an effective date of 8th January 2015.
The Consultation Period for this Airspace Change Proposal ran from 24th September to 20th December 2013. A Consultation Report has been prepared to provide feedback to stakeholders and other interested parties. The report is available to be downloaded from the link below.
Please click here for the Consultation Document.
Please click here for the Consultation Report.