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A EUROCONTROL definition of an airspace infringement is a ‘flight into notified airspace (controlled and restricted airspace) without previously requesting and obtaining approval from the designated controlling authority of that airspace in accordance with international and national regulations’.
Within the Shannon FIR/Dublin CTA, two classes of airspace have been adopted. Class C permits both IFR and VFR flights, all are subject to air traffic services and IFR flights are separated from other IFR flights and from VFR flights, while VFR flights are separated from IFR flights and receive traffic information in respect of other VFR flights. Class G airspace permits both IFR and VFR flights, which receive flight information if requested.
A safety survey was conducted in 2013 into unauthorised airspace infringements. This survey analysed 35 occurrences from January 2010 to June 2013 and mapped their location (see map above). In this map, we can see clusters of occurrences in specific areas.
While operating in class G airspace it is extremely important that pilots are familiar with the structure and bases of controlled airspace within the Dublin CTA, particularly when Runway 10 is active at Dublin Aerodrome. When vectoring traffic for an approach to Runway 10, Air Traffic Control (ATC) is required to ensure that IFR arrivals remain 500ft above the base of controlled airspace. ATC maintain continuous surveillance to ensure controlled airspace is not infringed inadvertently and take appropriate action if required to do so. This may include requesting an aircraft to stop a descent or climb to a higher altitude or instruct an arrival already established on an instrument approach to break-off their approach.
For the benefit and safety of all airspace users, aircraft operating in class G airspace are encouraged to ensure their transponders are switched on at all times. This will help ATC to see your aircraft on radar and may help prevent an infringement. Mode C will show your altitude on radar and is particularly useful to controllers when you are flying below controlled airspace. The use of a transponder also enables TCAS installed in commercial aircraft to be aware of your presence, providing a significant safety net.
Flight Information Service is available on 118.5 and aircraft operating in class G airspace are encouraged to call and make ATC aware of your detail.