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Restricted areas for flying over London

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Restricted areas for flying over London

Old 6th Oct 2013, 18:31
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 11
Cool Restricted areas for flying over London

I have recently bumped onto a comment by a guy who had to fly over London for assignment and he said the strictness of the rules surprised him a bit.

So I decided to see how does a restricted zone look like and what are the restrictions. It's quite logical that the air space is heavily regulated, but I also know that there are TV crews, helicopter tours and aerial photographers flying around every day I think that last year London had over 16,000 helicopter flights. I found this document:


Can someone explain the map is everything in the delimited pink area a restricted zone? What are then these subzones, zones within zones and that one zone that goes further bit to the east over Thames? What do the triangles, circles and dots represent?
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Old 6th Oct 2013, 18:54
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Milano, Italia
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Its been many years since I flew the 'H routes' but .. my godfather was one of those involved in deciding the original helicopter routes over London, the venerable Martyn Fiddler has some stories to tell about it .. although I don't quite know what! Doubtless the Colonel was up to something .. probably involving humour!

The circles are airfields, the triangles indicate the helicopter routes and the 'dots' .. I'm struggling to remember. Dots used to be an indication of fuel storage tanks (though they were black on VFR route charts .. this was early 80's) but these are clearly something else.

I'm sure someone will pipe-up with the correct information.
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Old 6th Oct 2013, 19:09
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Don't go flying on that map; it's quite out of date - it doesn't have the Emirates air line on at Greenwich for a start. The routes are designed for, and mandated for, single engine types. The triangles are reporting points which you may receive partial clearances to or be asked to hold at. The bulk of the hashed area used to be known as the 'specified area'. Singles were verboten but twins could ask for direct transits; much to the chagrin of a trapper, once on a check ride we entered the lanes at the top of the Lea valley only to be cleared direct to Barnes for a H3 exit...straight over the City...

In many respects they are easier at night. Savoia's Godfather did a good job in laying down routes over parks/rivers/rails so if you just 'follow the dark area' you're seldom far off the right track. Just be wary that the LHR controllers can get very sensitive depending on which rwy is in use and how busy they are.

The extension of the LHR zone to the east is to cover London City airport. I think the 'dots' you refer to are stations.
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Old 7th Oct 2013, 07:54
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Join Date: Dec 2007
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And dont fly below 2,000 feet over Belmarsh Prison, it's illegal unless you are helping a mate 'out' .
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Old 7th Oct 2013, 11:23
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Join Date: Sep 2007
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About 12 years ago I accompanied a CPL in a Jet R down to south of heathrow, he explained the London heliroutes and said I would be flying them but under strict control, we flew down H9 to be held short at Heathrow, then allowed to proceed to the very centre of the complex and hold above the centre green , we then watched three inbound and four leaving then as the last one of the four left the ground we were intructed to transit and get out of the H9 Heathrow area, it was a real impressive and smooth operation in controling us at the same time as A/C were arriving and departing, I know its all changed now but do they still allow centre holds between the runways, or is Heathrow totally restricted.?

Peter R-B
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Old 7th Oct 2013, 11:35
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: HLS map - http://goo.gl/maps/3ymt
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I know its all changed now but do they still allow centre holds between the runways, or is Heathrow totally restricted.?
Yes they might still ask you to hold between the runways if they have cleared you to cross the departure runway but have approach traffic on final, usually it's not required the other way around as you'll be cleared to continue downwind of the departure runway threshold. So if required you are instructed to hold between the midpoint line between the runways and the departure runway threshold i.e no closer to the landing runway than the midpoint between runways. Once clear you'll be cleared to cross the landing runway as expeditiously as possible.


addition - you are unlikely to get a crossing if TEAM operations are underway during busy periods (landings being made to both runways simultaneously)

Last edited by Aucky; 7th Oct 2013 at 11:40.
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Old 7th Oct 2013, 13:17
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: England & Scotland
Age: 60
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Last week I flew a single through London using Banstead, H7, Barnes, H4, Isle of Dogs and depart South along the edge of R158. Saturday morning, to avoid inconvenience to those attending the Globe Theatre.

This is all Radar Control.

Initial clearance to London Bridge, and a short hold (dumbbell-pattern over the river centre) to deconflict with 'big tin' coming in to City Airport.

The map you link to does not have the maximum altitudes marked. Along H7 you are quickly restricted to below 1,000 ft amsl. Along H4, after Battersea Heliport, that ceiling starts to rise and you have to be above 1400ft amsl to avoid R157 (Central London) and R159 (Canary Warf), though you can be sometimes given 1400ft to maximise deconflict with City Airport.

It is a great trip with fantastic views.

Photos from a previous trip here London heli route December 2010 before the snow...

Last edited by John R81; 7th Oct 2013 at 13:40.
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Old 7th Oct 2013, 18:16
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 444
Atinas - your "pink bits". The big one is EGR 160 inside which any helicopter having an engine failure must be able to either glide clear or be able to ditch in the river. There is no law saying that you HAVE to ditch in the river.

The smaller ones were put in post-9/11 and have a ceiling of 1400ft. They "protect" Westminster, Buckingham Palace, The City and the Canary Wharf business district.

Whilst on the routes you are exempted from the 1000ft rule, but 500ft still applies. (Which has caught out a few near the Eye.) And The Shard now produces a "shadow" that still has an effect on the north bank - Shard is 1250ft so the theory is that off-route within 600m of it, you need to be at 2250ft. You won't always be offered such a clearance by City ATC.......
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