Something I've never understood: Why do the Channel Islands have a class A TMA? Heathrow is understandable. Would understand (under sufferance) if they did same with Manchester and Birmingham. The class D CTRs for each island are not unreasonable as is N866 to Solent, but I can't see any reason for the class A TMA, except to prevent IMC channel crossings to non-IR pilots. Anyone know why?
Why have any class A control zones at all? few other countries seem to require them. Among the most notable the US with some of the busiest air in the planet seems to do ok with no such classification. Areas such as JFK or LAX are not exactly less busy than Heathrow... or Jersey.
The Manchester CTZ used to be the equivalent of Class A (Rule 21 in old money), but has been Class D for many years since, whilst the Gatwick CTZ has effectively always been the equivalent of Class D (previously a Rule 36 SRZ).
Some years ago - almost three, to be exact - I tried to find out why the Channel Islands insisted on Class A, so I asked the CAA. My particular concern was safety-related; why require non-IR pilots to accept relatively low levels over the sea. Their response was, in essence, that it is Class A because it has always been Class A (or equivalent), oh yes, and to keep the French Military out . In full, the repsonse was:
CHANNEL ISLANDS CONTOL ZONE
The classification of the Channel Islands Control Zone (CICTR) as Class A, or "Mandatory IFR" (previously Rule 21 of the Rules of the Air Regulations) is historic and goes right back to the original establishment of the airspace in the 1960s or earlier. As far as can be recalled from the depths of anyone's memory here it was because of the unique "diplomatic" situation of the islands, being in the French FIR but independent territories aligned more to the UK and whose airspace was administered under UK rules and in the UK AIP.
Under the menu of airspace types available in those days, "mandatory IFR" was the only one which provided adequate "protection" from, and recognition by, French Military operations.
Today, the classification of the airspace is a matter for the respective Islands legislatures and Class A remains their requirement. The Class D portions (formerly Special Rules Zones under UK legislation - Rule 36 as it was then) embedded within the CICTR, which allow for VFR operations around the airports themselves, were expanded a few years ago. Access between these and the "open FIR" beyond the CICTR is by Special VFR clearance using a network of visual routes and Visual Reference Points on the Cherbourg Peninsular. We have no reports that this system does not work well or does not meet the needs of General Aviation in the area. As you say, Special VFR works well in the Heathrow environment. There is no reason why it should not be equally so in the Channel Islands environment.
I have copied your e-mail to Jim Buckley, SATCO Jersey, who may be able to comment further.
Nic Smith Terminal Airspace Section For Bill Armit
The reply from the Jersey SATCO was even less enlightening:
It has to be said that on reading your e-mail of the 14th May 2000, that I thought the reply from the CAA was excellent! The history goes right back to 1947 and the main reason why we are Class A is that it forms part of our official agreement with the French Government. We are very happy with the fact that it is Class A and providing the weather is good enough we will always offer light aircraft a higher level should they so wish. We do not make light aircraft fly at lower levels except for weather or occasionally traffic reasons. We, as you know, handle a lot of aircraft (IFR) in the summer especially at weekends, so once again, Class A is ideal for us.
Therefore, as you can see Class A is part of our agreement and it suits us but if you wanted it changed - what would you change it to and why?
[Deleted text that was actually not connected with my query]
Jim Buckley - SATCO
In other words, we like it just the way it is so back off.
I was subsequently told that the airspace classification was being reviewed but that was the last I heard from Mr Buckley. I contacted the CAA again but they basically washed their hands of the matter:
The role of DAP in the "new CAA" is for regulation of UK airspace. We
> have no jurisdiction over how the Channel Islands classify or manage their
> airspace. It not for us to review their extant arrangements. We would of
> course provide advice, if they sought it, in any review they conduct.
All in all, a rather unsatisfactory state of affairs but one which is unlikely to change as it is so convenient for everyone - except for all those non-IR rated pilots, of course
In my experience Jersey do in fact allow light aircraft to use the class A airspace as they stated in their reply. I have often been routed overhead JSY beacon at 3000ft inbound to Guernsey, and allowed to climb to my chosen altitude outbound from Guernsey.
The channel islands are probably my favorite UK destination (or one of). ATC is no problem at all, I wish all controlled airspace was as easy to navigate (though the "not above 1000" out of Alderney has occasionally got the arse twitching But they do allow a climb as soon as possible)...
All the islands are very good value for money, sensible landing fees, duty free's and nice people, and 168hrs free parking at Jersey......you can't beat it!
It's not just the tax paying plebs of the mainland who are affected, witchdoctor.
As a tax wasting pleb back in 1990 I got stranded in GUR for a couple of days with two Sea King 4s. Even our military instrument ratings were not good enough for IFR in class A, so we had to wait for the weather to clear.
Two more nights of free spending sailors in the bars, and tax payers' money in the hotel.
Have to agree with Flying Boat about Jersey, as I did my PPL re-training there - itís great and the system works fine.
Special VFR clearance from ATC required of course , but I had no problem from ATC when taking the aircraft out to the South-East/West, up to FL50 for general handling. Occasionally you might receive and instruction to remain East/West of present position for perhaps 10 minutes, whilst some traffic (VFR and IFR) passes through.
Circuits may be rejected during the busiest periods of the summer, but will still be granted outside the very busy hours.
Many of the controllers are private pilots, and will do their best to accommodate GA at all times. Fitting in the jets and slow GA, in a very small airspace makes for a challenging ATC environment, and the controllers do it very well.
A special VFR would only be rejected because of weather minima, and if it was class D you wouldn't be able to fly VFR in it in such conditions anyway.
For arrivals, a simple call on the frequency approaching one of the VFR entry points (although ATC will pick you up wherever you are), an SSR code, radar ident, and a SVFR clearance (maybe not above 2000ft, but you can get higher if you need it), and you're in! Departures are the opposite. Often you will get SVR not above 1000ft, but this will only be until clearing the departure routes or maybe the island (its only a few miles, remember ), then higher will be granted on request (2000-3000ft is usual).
During my training I made a navigation flight, SVFR JER, GUR, ALD, France, and back to JER, SVFR at 3000ft - no problem at all. When I called for re-entry from France, ATC had obviously been watching me, as I had an immediate entry clearance and my former squawk.