1) What is Airspace Change?  

What are you doing?

We are going through an Airspace Change Process which most UK airports are also doing.  This involves the removal of old navigation aids as part of a national modernisation programme. Airports that have routes based on this old equipment need to update their procedures to be compatible with new, more accurate, state of the art satellite-based systems.

While this happens, we have the opportunity to ensure the flight paths in and out of the airport are as efficient and environmentally-friendly as possible.

What is an Airspace Change Process?

Our airspace is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a UK-wide body answerable to the UK Government whose job is to keep our airspace safe, efficient and cost-effective.

The Airspace Change Process is a series of steps required by the CAA. The steps are there to ensure all airports follow the same process, and many involve a consultation with the public.  The results from this consultation are then used to inform our final design which will be considered by the CAA for approval.

Their decision is based on whether the change is efficient, environmentally-friendly and safe.

Why is this necessary?

The basic structure of the UK’s airspace was developed over forty years ago. Since then there have been huge changes in the pressures on airspace, including a massive increase in demand and a desire to reduce environmental impact.

As part of the process the airport will be updating its navigation equipment to sustain its long-term future and contribution to the economy.

What do you mean by ‘airspace’?

Airspace can be broken down into two categories – controlled and uncontrolled. Uncontrolled airspace is where aircraft are free to fly without constraint, of which there are considerable areas across Scotland.

Controlled airspace is a network of corridors and areas in the sky which feature fixed navigational aids acting as markers to ensure safe distances between aircraft. Airports also use these fixed navigational aids but they are being switched off as they reach the end of their operational lives.

For Glasgow Prestwick Airport, this means the removal of navigational aids at Turnberry and New Galloway (visual below).  They will be replaced by systems which use technology on the aircraft and in space to navigate.


How will the Airspace Change Process affect me?

You can see our detailed route design options, as well as operational and noise information in the consultation material section of our website.

Why don’t you just keep routes the same?

Glasgow Prestwick Airport is not alone in moving to use new “RNAV” (see below) routes. The change is being made in line with the UK Future Airspace Strategy (FAS) an aviation industry and governmental initiative to improve the efficiency of airspace.

2) Getting involved

How do I see the proposals?

This consultation will last for 13 weeks, starting on 14 June and ending on 13 September.

As well as on our website, we’re also hosting three public exhibitions from 10am – 7pm:

  • 22 June in the Aviator Suite at Glasgow Prestwick Airport – KA9 2PL
  • 27 June at Kilmarnock Grand Hall – 9 Green St, Kilmarnock, KA1 3BN
  • 05 July at Coylton Parish Church Hall – 27 Hill Head, Ayr, KA6 6JT

Information can also be found at the following libraries after the final exhibition:

South Ayrshire Council East Ayrshire Council North Ayrshire Council
Alloway Library Auchinleck Community Library Ardrossan Library
Carnegie Library Bellfield Community Library Beattie Library (Stevenston)
Forehill Library Burns House Museum and Library (Mauchline) Bourtreehill Library
John Rodie Library (Mossblown) Burns Monument Centre (Kilmarnock) Dreghorn Library
Maybole Library Crosshouse Community Library Irvine Library
Prestwick Library Cumnock Community Library Kilwinning Library
Symington Library Dalrymple Community Library Saltcoats Library
Tarbolton Library Darvel Community Library Springside Library
Troon Library Drongan Community Library West Kilbride Library
Galston Community Library
Newmilns Community Library
Patna Community Library

How do I respond to the consultation?

We’ve compiled a feedback form. It includes options to comment on every departure and arrival route alongside additional sections for an overall detailed response on the consultation.

This survey will be open until 13 September.

Will you respond to my feedback?

We are unable to individually respond to feedback. We will produce a report at the end of the consultation to summarise what feedback has been received and how each piece of feedback has been considered in the decision-making process.

Will you be giving feedback on the results of the consultation?

We will collate and analyse all responses. A feedback report summarising the results of the consultation will be published on this website. Responses will be made available to the CAA as part of any Airspace Change Proposals submitted to them for changes covered by this proposal. This will allow the CAA to assess whether we have taken relevant information into account.

3) The proposed routes

How will this affect me?

Because the new designs are largely unchanged, it is likely that most people won’t notice any significant change.  In fact, one of the main aims for the design team is to limit the number of people being overflown wherever possible.

If you live directly underneath, or close to, an existing flight path, it’s possible you could notice some changes but we expect these to be very small.

Does this mean more flights in and out of Prestwick and new routes?

We want to make sure our airspace is fit for the 21st century. We know air travel is growing in popularity and volume so we need to have an airspace which can accommodate future growth.

We’re working hard to grow our airport and bring in new business.

However, this consultation is about the proposed changes to the routes used by aircraft arriving and leaving the airport due to the removal of old navigational aids

Who will benefit from the changes proposed and how will they benefit?

Our aim is to develop a plan for our airspace that would benefit all, meeting both our aspirations for growth and communities’ desire for less noise and disruption. This is why we are talking to communities prior to finalising the routes. We believe that growth in the airport’s capacity will benefit Scotland.

Who will be disadvantaged by the changes proposed and how will they be disadvantaged?

We will work hard to make sure that we balance our operational requirements with the impact on communities. We will endeavour not to add to the burden but there will clearly still be communities that will be flown over.

How long does the process take?

Our estimate is that the process will take approximately 6 months from the start of our consultation to the CAA’s decision.

If successful when will this start?

If successful, it will commence in early summer 2018.

Why does the consultation not include flights over 7,000ft?

Flights above 7000ft are high enough so that the impact of overflights is less severe for those on the ground below. As such the government guidelines stipulate that for routes above 7000ft the emphasis should be on minimizing the environmental impact due to CO2 emissions. Further it is stipulated that consultation with stakeholders on the ground is not required for route changes above 7000ft AGL.

What are RNAV routes?

RNAV is a satellite-based navigation system similar to GPS which is a highly accurate method of aircraft navigation. RNAV is not new, it has been in use since the 1970s, however the accuracy achievable has improved over the years.

Why can’t RNAV routes follow the current routes?

The current routes were designed many years ago based on old design criteria applicable to conventional navigation. The new routes must comply with the current design criteria applicable to RNAV navigation. These new criteria place limits on the minimum distances between waypoints and we are therefore unable to “replicate” some of the current routes precisely.

What is a SID?

SID stands for Standard Instrument Departure. This is a departure route programmed into the flight management system of each aircraft to ensure that the aircraft follows a specific track upon departure from an airfield.