Olympic 30 mile ban on private aircraft

Hot air balloon flights, private planes and microlights will be banned from London airspace for the month commencing 16th July.

As the number of visitors to London is expected to swell to 500,000 for the 2012 Olympics, National Air Traffic Services (NATS) has had to devise a plan to guarantee that air safety is not compromised for athletes, visiting sports fans or Londoners themselves.

The restriction for private aircraft will be extended by 30 miles in all directions, to an area bounded by Weymouth in the south and Stansted in the north and from the Thames Estuary in the east to Oxford in the west.

An estimated 4,000 extra flights are expected to regional UK airports, whilst South East airports are expecting over 3,000 executive jets and 700 large airliners during July. Air traffic controllers have had extensive training on radar detection in light of the extra traffic.

Air safety is not the only consideration with such an influx of visitors and NATS has cancelled all leave for air traffic controllers to ensure that any private plane or hot air balloon which may have inadvertently strayed over the boundary will be spotted quickly.

As soon as any unauthorised aircraft is detected NATS will trigger an automatic alert to the RAF, who may decide to launch a quick response plane to intercept the straying aircraft.

NATS has advised pilots of private aircraft, including hot air balloon pilots, to take particular care when planning flights around London during the Olympic Games. Thankfully, hot air balloon flights throughout the rest of the UK will continue as normal during this event.

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