CAA announces delay to full introduction of Standardised European Rules of the Air

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) this week, confirmed that the UK implementation of significant elements of the European Union’s Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA) has been delayed. As a result, there will be no changes to the UK Rules of the Air stemming from SERA that will impact UK pilots. The changes to be introduced on 4 December 2014 resulting from SERA will only be those that replicate existing UK rules.

The decision has been prompted by concerns over the impact of the changes on UK aviation, the need to complete the derogation process with the European Commission and delays in providing the CAA with the authority to administer the rules seamlessly.

The proposed change to move the UK from quadrantal to semi circular cruising levels is therefore postponed and will not now happen in December. There will be no changes to minimum height rules, and both VFR and Special VFR flight at night will continue to be permitted.

The CAA is working with the Department for Transport to ask the European Commission for two derogations from SERA. The first would allow the UK’s existing clear of cloud rule, governing flight in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) in controlled airspace, to be maintained. This gives flexibility to pilots and air traffic controllers and reduces the need for Special VFR in a control zone. The second derogation seeks to avoid the unintended effect of air traffic control not being able to issue a Special VFR clearance when the ground visibility at the reporting aerodrome is below the specified new criteria, despite a pilot being able to fly in VMC (or under a Special VFR clearance) within a control zone away from the affected aerodrome.

As a result the items covered by the derogation requests will not be implemented in the UK in December.

Mark Swan, CAA Director of Safety and Airspace said: “While we welcome some of the clarity and consistency that SERA will provide, if implemented in its entirety it would impose considerable restrictions on the GA community which is why we are seeking derogations and deferring the implementation of significant parts of SERA.”

The CAA will be publishing more details regarding the introduction of SERA in due course at including details of the changes that will come into force in December.

Anna Roffey

BPTC Grad.

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