Free Route Airspace (FRA) Deployment 1

Closed 18 Dec 2019

Opened 17 Sep 2019

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.



Free Route Airspace (FRA) is well established and NATS has been involved in developing the FRA concept over the last 5 years.  FRA is a major initiative of the UK CAA’s Airspace Modernisation Strategy (AMS) (CAP 1711).  The implementation of FRA by European Union (EU) member states was mandated in European Law under the EU Implementing Regulation EU716/204 and has been recommended as a part of the Eurocontrol Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) programme. 

Aligned to the UK AMS, NATS is proposing to introduce Free Route Airspace (FRA) across UK airspace in four deployments. The first (Deployment 1), across Scottish Sectors (blue shaded area in the Figure below) will allow aircraft in upper airspace to flight plan and fly between existing points and not be constrained  to follow the current network of routes.  The concept will also enable the opportunity to flight plan across the airspace managed by Borealis Alliance member ANSPs unconstrained by the route network in each ANSP’s airspace with free crossing at boundaries not limited to fixed entry/exit points.

The change from a network of routes to FRA represents a significant change for aircraft operators and Air Traffic Control (ATC); NATS welcomes your feedback to develop our proposed deployment.  Future deployments will be consulted on through separate ACPs.

Why your views matter

The level of change expected to support the implementation of FRA requires Airspace Changes to implement effectively and safely.  Along with the European Mandate to implement FRA and CAA’s AMS, developing the concept to support the needs of our Airspace Users and Aviation Stakeholders remains important to ensure changes are fit for purpose and comply with the required regulation and legislation

We also want to share the potential benefits for implementation of FRA against the proposed options presented in the consultation document:

  • FRA Option 1.  In which all ATS routes are removed.
  • FRA Option 2.  In which the ATS route structure is partially maintained.
  • FRA Option 3.  In which the ATS route structure is maintained, but aircraft are not constrained to flight plan the routes within the FRA.

The changes proposed in this ACP will only affect flights above 25,500ft. 

As such we are seeking feedback from any stakeholders who may be affected.  Primarily this is likely to be users of the airspace and aviation stakeholders.  Nonetheless we welcome feedback from any interested parties.

The consultation begins on 17th September and ends on 18th December 2019, a period of 13 weeks.

Consultation Material  (please download)

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing.Please download the PDF.

Your feedback will be sent to the CAA and will be published after moderation.

What happens next

During consultation we gathered feedback from stakeholders and any interested parties. 

Responses will then be analysed and themed.  Shortly after the consultation finishes we will publish a consultation feedback document, which will summarise the themes and NATS’ response to any issues raised. 

The feedback document will be available for download via the CAA portal.  Any new requirements identified will be considered in the on-going design process.  The ACP will detail the design being submitted and make reference to changes that have been made to take account of consultation feedback.