Oxford Area of Intense Arial Activity

The Oxford AIAA Working Group is attempting to make users more aware of changes in the region that affect the airspace. This is a guide to some recent developments in the area:  

“The Oxford Area of Intense Aerial Activity Working Group meets quarterly, like many other Regional Airspace groups, to discuss a wide and varied agenda of all things aviation.  As Chairman for the last year, it was apparent that the pace of change in the region can be difficult to keep track of for those of us professionally linked to aviation, let alone those who fly for pleasure. 

We floated the idea of promulgating some of the more recent changes in an informal manner, in the interests of improving awareness, knowledge and safety.  This is by no means an attempt to detail all activity in the area and much activity is formally promulgated through NOTAM, etc, but to highlight some areas of potential conflict or increased activity of some form, some of which is temporary, short-notice and not formally published.

As the current Senior Air Traffic Control Officer at RAF Brize Norton, I’ll start close to home. Brize now operates a growing, modern fleet of aircraft including A330 Voyager, A400M Atlas, C17 Globemaster and C130 Hercules, as well as being busy with other military and civilian aircraft conducting practice approaches and other activity.  It is surrounded by a Class D Control Zone active H24.  If your flight is close to, over the top of, or planned through the Zone, it is best to call Brize one (freq
119.0).  Brize is also the local LARS provider, operating daily 0900-1700 Local time, call Brize Radar (freq 124.275).  Pilots will be given the Brize QNH altimeter pressure for crossings of the CTR. 

RAF Benson now operate a mixed fleet of Puma and Chinook helicopters which, routinely operate low level across the Oxford Area of Intense Aerial Activity and also utilise the disused Abingdon Airfield (Dalton Barracks), Chalgrove airfield and various local fields for training.  Pilots wishing to transit the Benson MATZ are advised to call Benson Zone (freq 120.9).

Parachuting activity takes place within the Benson southern MATZ stub at Chiltern Park Aerodrome Drop Zone.  This is active every weekend and Bank Holiday from March to October from 0900-1900 Local.  If Benson Zone is closed, pilots are requested to contact Chiltern Park Radio (freq 134.025) if passing nearby for the latest info.  For the other parachute sites of Hinton-in-the-Hedges and Redlands, information on current activity is available from Brize Radar.

London Oxford Airport is now fully radar equipped and pilots flying in the vicinity may call Oxford Approach (freq 127.250).  They particularly welcome an RT call from pilots who are flying through the extended approach to runway 19 which is equipped with an ILS.  Oxford also utilise a Listening Squawk of 4517 for flights in the vicinity who may not wish to call ATC but want to highlight their position.  They welcome an RT call from any gliders with a position and level and will not impose a service unless requested.  Oxford Approach now provide a Danger Area Crossing Service for Weston-on-the-Green when EGD129 is notified as active, call Oxford Approach

Gliding has now recommenced at Little Rissington with a winch launch on the airfield.  In addition to the gliding, military helicopters often use the airfield for training and occasional (NOTAM’d) military parachuting activity takes place.

RAF Halton ATZ combines with a Notified Winch-Launch Glider and Microlight Site with ~20,000 VFR movements per year with gliders and their tugs operating up to the base of controlled airspace.  The military helicopters of Joint Helicopter Command are regular visitors and on alternate Tuesdays a military flypast is conducted between 1315-45hrs. Contact Halton Radio (freq 130.425) during 0900hrs-2000hrs (or Sunset +15 whichever earlier) for more information.

Aston Down remains busy with winch launched gliders, despite it being annotated as disused on the 500,000 VFR chart.  Pilots should take care in this area.  

With so much activity in probably some of the busiest uncontrolled airspace in the country and a plethora of different ATC or radio frequencies to consider, pilot lookout should remain vigilant for confliction with the many military and civilian aircraft operating in the region.”