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Low Flying

Volume 176: debated on Wednesday 18 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what overall reduction in Royal Air Force flying hours resulted from changes in navigator training syllabuses in each of the last three years; and what impact this has had on the amount of low flying conducted by the Royal Air Force.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what areas of the United Kingdom are specifically designated for nap of the earth flying by Army helicopters.

No areas of the United Kingdom are specifically designated for nap of the earth flying by Army helicopters; such flights arc conducted in designated low-flying areas in accordance with the relevant military regulations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many air misses have occurred between two military aircraft in low-flying area 7 in each year since 1979.

The number of air misses between two military aircraft in low-flying area 7 in each year since 1979 is as follows:

Number
19790
19801
19810
19822
19831
19841
19850
19861
19870
19880
19890

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if pilots booking into and out of low flying areas are permitted any leeway in meeting their booked entry and exit times.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if United States air force pilots certified to fly at 300 ft are permitted to fly at 250 ft in the United Kingdom low-flying system without additional low level stepdown training.

United States air force pilots who need to train at 250 ft in the United Kingdom low-flying system are trained as necessary to certify them to fly at under 300 ft.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date that part of the Glamorgan transit area in the vicinity of Usk was abolished; what was the specific reason for its abolition; and if he will list the parliamentary constituencies over which low flying is newly permitted, or within which the area available for low flying is extended, as a result of this measure.

It is not our practice to release detailed information on flying restrictions in individual areas. As part of the continuous monitoring of the United Kingdom low-flying system, however, a programme of reviews of avoidance areas is carried out and changes made when necessary, reflecting changes on the ground, and aimed at spreading low flying more evenly and enhancing flight safety, while at the same time reducing, where possible, the disturbance to those on the ground.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the regulations concerning the height at which low-flying aircraft should cross coastlines in the United Kingdom.

I have nothing to add to the answer that I gave the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) on 12 June 1990 at column 139.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans exist to permit automatic terrain-following radar flying in areas of the United Kingdom other than the highlands restricted area.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave him on 20 July 1989 at column 317.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those areas of the United Kingdom which have newly been made available for military low flying since 1979; and if he will specify the date on which each area was made available.

I regret that the information requested could not be provided without disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the criteria used by the military low flying management group in determining which special rules zones or special rules areas around civil airports should be designated as avoidance areas for military low flying and which should not.

I have nothing further to add to the answer that I gave the hon. Member on 20 July 1989 at column 317.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if pilots are permitted to make bookings into low-flying areas by radio, while airborne.

Pilots are not generally permitted to book into low-flying areas by radio whilst airborne.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the regulations concerning overflight by low-flying military aircraft of assemblies of large numbers of people.

Aircrew are generally instructed to avoid overflying such assemblies at low level.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at what level in his Department approval must be sought for low-flying by jet aircraft between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am; what records are kept of such applications for approval, and decisions thereon; what criteria are used to grant or refuse permission for such flying; and if permission for such flying activity has ever been refused.

The level at which approval is given and the records kept will depend on the activity concerned. Every effort is made to keep such flying to the minimum necessary to meet essential training requirements and permission is refused if this condition is not met.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the stipulated vertical and horizontal distances by which military aircraft are required to avoid sites notified under the civil aircraft notification procedure.

The avoidance criteria adopted will depend on the type of aircraft, its conspicuity and its indicated air speed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to introduce one-way flow control of low-flying aircraft in the Bwlch Llyn Bach valley between Minffordd and Cross Foxes.

A one-way flow control system already exists in the Bwlch Llyn Bach valley.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if any Royal Air Force stations in Britain are permitted to operate their own aircraft in local low-flying areas without notifying RAF West Drayton; and if he will make a statement.

For certain low flying areas, the functions of the tactical booking cell at RAF West Drayton in respect of either all or part of the low-flying activity in these areas are delegated to a local centre, which may be an RAF station.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what restrictions are in force concerning the transit of large formations of aircraft through choke points in the United Kingdom low-flying system.

Large formations of aircraft are instructed to avoid flying through recognised choke points in the United Kingdom low-flying system.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures are in force to ensure that locations which are in use as simulated targets for toss or dive attack are not selected as simulated targets for level pass attacks.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what date the minimum vertical separation from cloud for visual flying operations in the United Kingdom low-flying system was reduced from 1,000 ft. to 500 ft.

The present rules for vertical separation from cloud were introduced in June 1982.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the maximum number of aircraft permitted to operate at low level at any one time in the hilly areas of the Lake District; to what parts of low-flying area 17, this applies; and if he will list any changes made to this maximum number since 1979.

No more than 20 aircraft (excluding helicopters) are permitted to book into low-flying area 17 at any one time during the period 07.00 to 18.00 local time Monday to Friday. No changes have been made to this figure since its introduction in 1987.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those range danger areas within which military aircraft are permitted to descend below 250 ft minimum separation distance during the run-in to a simulated target; and if he will list the minimum permitted height in each case.

I refer the hon. Member to my letter to him of 28 July 1989, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the measures taken to ensure that the regulations of the United Kingdom low-flying system are properly understood, briefed, and adhered to by United Kingdom-based United States air force air crews.

No. I am satisfied that United Kingdom-based United States air force air crews, like their Royal Air Force counterparts, are made fully aware of the relevant regulations and of the importance of adhering to them.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the regulations concerning emergency climb-outs from low level when below controlled or regulated airspace; and what records are kept of resulting unauthorised penetrations of such airspace by military aircraft.

Air crew are instructed to report any unauthorised penetrations of regulated or controlled airspace that may occur during climb-out from the United Kingdom low-flying system but very few occur. Separate statistics for such incidents are not maintained.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the minimum period of notice required by RAF West Drayton of pilots intending to book into a low-flying area.

There is no specified period of notice but advance bookings must be confirmed on the day of the flight.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the regulations concerning the maximum number of aircraft in a formation in the United Kingdom low-flying system.

The number of aircraft in a tactical formation at low level is determined by aircraft role and the type of exercise being carried out. However, formations do not normally consist of more than eight aircraft.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those areas of the United Kingdom where attacks on simulated targets are prohibited.

No. All aspects of sorties, including simulated attacks, must however be planned in accordance with the general regulations applying to the United Kingdom low-flying system.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the standard radius of lateral avoidance for avoidance sites marked on low flying charts and listed in the United Kingdom military low-flying handbook.

Avoidance criteria adopted in any case will depend on the site concerned.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if towns and villages which carry low-flying avoidance status, other than those located within avoidance areas, are marked as sites to be avoided on the printed low flying charts supplied to pilots.

All significant built-up areas, whether or not carrying formal avoidance status, are marked on low-flying charts.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the areas of the United Kingdom that are designated as data link areas for United States Air Force training with the GBU-15 missile system.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the regulations concerning inverted flying at low level.

I am not aware of any regulations which specifically refer to inverted flying at low level.