View Full Version : Special VFR clearance (UK airspace)

13th Sep 2021, 08:06

Do ATZ's with a Air traffic control issue Special VFR clearances when the weather is below minima - 5 km vis and 1500 feet ceiling ?

Or is a Special VFR clearance only available for CTR's?

13th Sep 2021, 12:09
No, ATZs in the UK are normally Class 'G' and so nothing 'special' required.

13th Sep 2021, 20:31
Hi FL1,

Thanks for the reply.

I think you are right. Iíve looked up a few ATZís that I know have ATC like Inverness, Humberside and Exeter and they are also all class G.

Iíve been reading CAP 1535 - the latest Skyway code - and it mentions SVFR in an aerodrome traffic zone so this is slightly ambiguous but Iíll take it as SVFR is for CTRís only and not ATZís.

Here is the extract for CAP 1535 - Skyway code.

A VFR flight may not take-off or land
at an aerodrome within a control zone (CTR), or enter the aerodrome traffic zone or circuit when the reported conditions
at that aerodrome are less than:
> cloud ceiling of 1500 ft; or
> ground visibility of 5 km.
This applies regardless of the CTRís airspace classification. If these conditions are not met, you may request a Special VFR clearance instead.

13th Sep 2021, 20:47
From CAP 413
6.17 Special VFR clearances are only issued for flights within Control Zones and are normally at the request of the pilot.

Dan Dare
14th Sep 2021, 04:51
ATZs in the UK are normally Class 'G'

This is probably true overall, but ATZs take on the classification of their surrounding airspace so although not always marked on the map the larger airports in class D airspace also have an ATZ with subtly different rules (eg application of Met. criteria). Pilots should all know what VMC they can fly to in which airspace but the rules change so often that itís hardly surprising there is confusion. ATC are not the police, but can only issue clearances down to their differing minima. If you asked me for a VFR clearance at a class G aerodrome in crappy weather I would feel duty-bound to point out the crappiness of the weather, but wouldnít be likely to have to power to prohibit flight. I could feel the need to report the matter though and you might find yourself being unwelcome at that airfield.

14th Sep 2021, 08:18
If the ATZ is class G, then as long as the aircraft speed is less than 140kts you only need 1500m visibility for an aircraft?

14th Sep 2021, 11:46
If the ATZ is class G, then as long as the aircraft speed is less than 140kts you only need 1500m visibility for an aircraft?

Ah! and there's the rub. (Bold letters where used are emphasised by me) Guide to Visual Flight Rules (VFR) in the UK published by the CAA

H. Aerodrome Traffic Zones (ATZ)

Pilots wishing to enter an ATZ must comply with the published requirements for that particular aerodrome and in the case of an aerodrome with an Air Traffic Control Unit, with any instructions issued by that unit. ATZs are not included in the Airspace Classification System. An ATZ conforms to the Class of Airspace in which it is situated thus, for example, in Class G Airspace Rule 45 will apply but in Class D Airspace the requirements of Class D will apply in addition (UK AIP section ENR 1.4 refers).

A. Weather minima VFR flight within Controlled Airspace (Classes C to E Airspace)

• As per below FL 100….or… • Fixed wing aircraft operating at 140kt or less: 5 km flight visibility; Clear of cloud and in sight of the surface

Special VFR Flight

A Special VFR flight is a flight made in a Control Zone under circumstances which would normally require the flight to be made under the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) but is made under special conditions and with the permission of ATC instead of under the full IFR

(b) Weather limitations for Special VFR flights arriving at or departing from certain aerodromes may be detailed in the UK AIP. Without prejudice to such limitations, ATC will not issue a Special VFR clearance to any fixed wing aircraft intending to depart from an aerodrome in a Control Zone when the official meteorological report indicates that the visibility is 1800 m or less and/or the cloud ceiling is less than 600ft

By doing a very short survey using the UK AIP: it is common practice for operators to align their ATZ with the class of airspace within which it sits. So, has the privileges of the SVFRs been extended from that of transit; and therefore a request for circuits subject to SFVRs becomes permissible.

14th Sep 2021, 20:36