Do you sometimes struggle making a Class D Airspace transit request?
Have you ever wondered why ATC ask all those questions before considering the request?
Is there an easier way?
Perhaps there is…

You might have read the Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) explaining that on 1 January NATS is launching a new GA pre-notification tool as part of an online Airspace Users Portal for all non-standard flight applications.

The tool has been developed over the past four months as the result of a controller survey that identified room for improvement when handling entries into controlled airspace. It is initially being piloted for six months, but we’re hoping it will prove successful and remain in use for the foreseeable future.

Under the current system for GA pilots who wish to transit into controlled airspace, controllers have no prior knowledge of the request and therefore have little opportunity to formulate a potential plan for the crossing.

From 1 January pilots are encouraged to submit their notification on the portal at least 60 minutes before their intended crossing time so NATS controllers can prepare for their arrival – helping pilots with their requests and enabling more efficient use of the airspace.

The Airspace Users Portal is available on from 1 January 2018 and full details can be found in AIC Y 055/2018.  We’d love to hear your feedback so please let us know what you think by emailing [email protected].

Which airspace is affected?

The new pre-notification tool will be available for use in the following airspace sectors:

    • Stansted CTA/CTR
    • Luton CTA/CTR
    • London Heathrow CTR (outer)
    • Gatwick CTA/CTR
    • London City CTA/CTR


How far in advance do I need to notify of the airborne request?

The notification should be submitted on the day of flight, at least 60 minutes before the intended crossing time.


Can I use the tool for IFR transit requests?

Yes, the pre-notification tool can be used for both IFR and VFR requests.


What if I file then change my plans and no longer require the transit?

You do not need to do anything. ATC will automatically discard the pre-notification if it is not used.


Can I still free-call?

Yes, the online submission system is in addition to the existing method of providing ATC with the details required by radio.


What is the impact on me as a pilot?

Fundamentally, there is no real change from what a pilot does today. Instead of passing information in the air, you can fill in your application on the ground before take-off. This should reduce radio transmissions and enable better planning by ATC – this benefits everyone.


Is there a cost?

No, there is no cost to airspace users. The evaluation is fully-funded by NATS.


I already file a flight plan, do I need to do this too?

Currently yes. We encourage you to pre-notify us even if you do file a flight plan.


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Alan Burrill

Could someone have a look at the display of the website on a tablet, iPAD, please. It overspill the sides and doesn’t resize for the size of display.


Alan Burrill



Christina C

Would this be optimised.for iOS on mobile devices? Much easier to notify just prior to engine start



Kim Kynaston

You will no doubt have preferred routes across airspace and areas that will always be no go. Could you supply details of routes which are more likely to be acceptable given a particular runway in use?



James Chan

It would be nice to see further integration with the VFR flight plan sytem in future.

If the trial proves successful, I would welcome the electronic transfer of data between as many aerodromes in the UK as appropriate to reduce freecalling and so that any booking in/out with ATC is replaced through one portal alone.

Can I also request please that pre-notification is never made mandatory.

Many thanks



william mackaness

Great idea. But surely this is duplication of the service in which you file a flight plan submitted via Afpex. Why not encourage GA pilots to file flight plans for zone transits? Wont there be duplication of effort / room for confusion if you encourage both pre notification and filing of a flight plan?



Peter Gorman

Having filed a flight plan, one should not also have to make perhaps multiple zone-transit notifications about an intended flight. All the details, as far as known before takeoff, are in the flight plan.
This is just another layer of time-consuming repetition of flight plan data.
Can the notifications be given the previous day?
Are they supposed to be cancelled if the flight does not take place, or takes a different route?

Thank you for your comments, they are really appreciated.

Alan / Christina – The Airspace Users Portal is optimised for iOS, however, the holding page which was seen prior to the launch on 1st January was not. If you experience any issues, please let us know.

Kim – This is something we might look at in future.

James – NATS has recognised that at least for the moment VFR FPL data is not routinely available to en-route approach controllers and this does not help either the ATCO to providing a service, nor the pilot trying to request one.
The intuitive pre-note portal is an attempt by NATS to streamline the process, by making available brief details (the abbreviated FPL) to the ATCO in advance, something they do not have today.

In an ideal world of course all these steps would all be integrated, and the different notification methods currently required would be much simplified. It will probably be of interest to you that NATS is indeed researching how VFR FPL data can be better used in future.

This will of course take time. In the UK, there are many differing systems, run by many different ANSPs and they are not all compatible. Although NATS is the leading ANSP in the UK, it is only one of over 40 licenced by the CAA to provide Air Traffic Services, unlike many European countries where there is a single national service provider. It’s easy to see that there are challenges here.

Please note that the tool being evaluated does not replace the existing “free call” method of requesting a clearance, it is available in addition to it.

William – If you file a VFR flight plan these details are not routinely available to en-route controllers (see above) and so there remains a need to pass abbreviated FPL details before requesting a transit clearance. The online portal is an attempt to reduce the RT associated with the transits and allow controllers to be aware that a request is coming. As mentioned, we are looking into utilising Flight Plan data for Class D transits.

Peter – If you wish to submit multiple zone transits, this can all be done in one submission. Once you’ve selected the first zone and estimated time, click the ‘+ Add’ button to include more.

As stated in AIC Y 095/2017, should the flight subsequently not take place, or the transit clearance is no longer required, there is no requirement to cancel the online Abbreviated FPL. ATC will automatically discard the pre-notification if not used.

This is currently an evaluation phase and it is anticipated that improvements will be made over time based on feedback received.



eric swaffer

I can understand why, but still it shows the failings of UK not to have an integrated ATC system for low level traffic, and in particular for low level IMC/IFR traffic that arrive, depart or transit outside controlled airspace.




I’m flying out of Denham to Cardif. How do I use the service if I am already inside the Heathrow outer zone?




Recently I flew from Wellesbourne to Lydd, I filled in my intentions & details in the UAP Portal, called 10 miles out and was given a seamless transit though the Luton CTA. Two Comments:
1. When filling in the VFR Class D I attempted to put the VRPs I wanted to route via but it only let me add Luton from the Map OR maybe it did store my chosen route but it’s not displayed in the summary screen. I can see the logic and maybe the wording could clarify to just select an area I.E. Luton rather than looking like free text field. Radio button selection maybe?
2. Filled in the form and at the Time field is says “Estimated time” which is great as GA unlike commercial world isn’t always that time accurate. Reading some of the comments this may well put some GA pilots using the Portal or transiting TMAs . Possibly add wording on front page for current day and estimated time of transit.
In the FAQs maybe worth adding that when making initial call to say “Transit requested as filed” as I did with response from Luton Radar “I have your details” and easy from there with very little RT chatter.
Question: Is there a transit time leeway as for a flight plan of +-30mins again it would be useful to know.


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