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Olympic Airspace

Volume 524: debated on Monday 7 March 2011

As part of the commitment to deliver a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic games, the Government are today announcing their plans for temporary airspace control measures that will apply over London and the south-east during the games period.

The measures comprise an inner prohibited airspace zone and an outer restricted zone, approximately 60 nautical miles across, centred on the Olympic park.

Only certain categories of aircraft—those operating commercial services and subject to full security procedures—will normally be permitted to operate within the prohibited zone. Certain aircraft involved in, for example, police, medevac and Olympic broadcast operations will be exempted. Other operations at airports within this zone may also be considered for exemption subject to strict conditions, which will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Similarly, we are working with Battersea heliport to agree a basis on which operations there may be allowed to continue.

All types of aircraft will be permitted to operate in the wider restricted zone provided that they can satisfy certain requirements designed to ensure that all aircraft within the zone can be readily identified and monitored by air traffic control.

It is envisaged that the measures will be in place from 13 July to 12 September 2012, to cover the period of both the Olympic and Paralympic games.

These measures have been designed to help to protect key games locations from potential airborne threats. It is normal practice to implement airspace restrictions during large-scale events such as major sporting events, and similar measures have been put in place for previous Olympic and Paralympic games. The measures have been developed to be proportionate and to minimise the impact on the aviation community during the summer of 2012.

It is not expected that any airports will need to close as a result of the measures. There should be no impact on scheduled air services, and limited impact on most other types of operation outside the prohibited zone.

The Government, the Civil Aviation Authority and NATS will now work with airspace users and others to ensure that the planned measures, and their potential impacts, are fully understood and discussed before the regulations to implement them under the Air Navigation Order 2009 are made later this year.

Options for airspace controls over other Olympics venues outside the south-east are still being considered and plans for these will be announced later.

Copies of a leaflet entitled “London 2012 Airspace”, aimed at the general aviation community, showing the coverage of the zones and setting out in more detail the restrictions that will apply within them, have been placed in the Library.