The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has set out a vision for the future of UK airspace which will help deliver quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys, and create more capacity to benefit those who use and are affected by UK airspace.

The UK CAA’s strategy also takes into account the latest developments in innovation and technology, placing integration of all airspace users, and accommodates for new types of aircraft such as drones, aerial taxis, also known as eVTOL, and spacecraft.

The structure of the UK’s airspace has remained the same for decades, despite an increase in demand from its users. Although demand for air travel is recovering after being severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the strategy takes a long-term view to 2040.

The refreshed Airspace Modernisation Strategy includes measures:

1) to maintain and, where possible, improve the UK’s high levels of aviation safety;
2) to aim for simpler airspace design and supporting regulations;
3) to introduce environmental sustainability as an overarching principle to be applied through all modernisation activities, taking account of the latest government policy and environmental guidance;
4) to meet the UK’s international obligations, aligning delivery of the strategy with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Global Air Navigation Plan and ensuring interoperability of the UK network with our neighbours
5) to provide a clear strategic path for regulatory policy and requirements now that the UK has left the EU and the EU Aviation Safety Agency.

Working with the Department for Transport, the UK CAA developed the refreshed strategy over the last year after wide engagement with airports, airlines, the general aviation community, innovators, and community groups.

UK CAA director for strategy and policy Tim Johnson said: “The strategic vision set out in our refreshed strategy gives us a direction of travel that guides airspace modernisation. It will help make our airspace more environmentally friendly and sustainable, and deliver the many benefits of airspace modernisation.

“Alongside existing users of airspace like commercial air transport, business aviation, recreational flyers and the military, there are new parts of the sector which need to be integrated safely into our existing airspace network.

“Our strategy enables these different groups to use airspace alongside each other and is a fundamental principle of the strategy.”

Aviation Minister Baroness Vere said: “It is easy to forget that above our heads is a complex infrastructure that, while invisible to the naked eye, is as essential to getting around as roads and railways, but the future of flying requires a refresh of how we use our skies, and this new strategy will develop the infrastructure to make it fit for the future.”

Earlier this month, the UK CAA granted ZeroAvia’s Dornier 228 aircraft a permit to fly, which has been retrofitted with a prototype hydrogen-electric powertrain.