NATS suspends airspace user portal due to fall in demand during COVID-19

UK air navigation service provider NATS is suspending the Airspace User Portal (AUP) introduced in January 2018 to provide an easy, practical and streamlined application for flight requests to approving authorities. From 30 April 2020, drone users, General Aviation pilots and those submitting Non-Standard Flight (NSF) applications will no longer be able to do so via the Airspace User Portal (AUP). After that date, users should revert to the original notification process detailed in the UK AIP and published by the CAA.

NATS said the decision to suspend the AUP is part of NATS’ response to the dramatic impact on the wider aviation industry of the COVID-19 outbreak.  Demand from general aviation users and drone operators for the portal has fallen and is expected to fall further as the COVID-19 restrictions continues.

The AUP was introduced for evaluation to cater for an increasing number of users requiring access to controlled airspace and following changes in UK regulation governing the use of drones. It provides electronic approvals for drone, private pilot and non-standard flights, and the evaluation period has been successful in proving its technical and operational capability including safety assurance and cyber security. Since its introduction, thousands of flight requests have been made and approved and NATS had identified how it could be implemented more widely across the operation.

Juliet Kennedy, NATS’ Operations Director, said: “During this uncertain time, NATS’ priority is to protect the critical operation on which the country depends so we must make other cutbacks where we can. With significantly reduced demand at this time, the end of the AUP’s evaluation period is a natural point to suspend it.

“The AUP has been a huge and successful partnership with Altitude Angel and I’d like to thank them for their support, investment and ongoing commitment. NATS remains committed to supporting UTM and the full integration of drone flights into UK airspace.”

NATS says it will continue to ensure that all airspace user needs are met. will no longer be available from 30 April 2020. After this date, general aviation pilots and users requesting Non-Standard Flights (NSFs) in controlled airspace should revert to instructions contained within AIP ENR 1.1 section 4.1 and on the NATS website

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