A brief overview of how aviation legislation affects St Helena
The Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order 2013 applies to St Helena and introduces a number of restrictions on the use of St Helenian airspace. Its primary concern is that of safety, ensuring that aircraft landing and departing at St Helena are not put at risk by man-made flying objects or ground-based hazards.
Man-made flying objects can be either “controlled” or “uncontrolled”. Examples of a “controlled” flying object would be a radio controlled plane, or a kite; an “uncontrolled” flying object could be a balloon. A ground-based hazard might include a powerful light or a persistent reflection that causes glare.
The Order places restrictions on when flying objects and ground-based lights can be used. Restrictions can vary depending upon whether the Airport is open and whether flights are due to take place. An “open day” is when the Airport is open but flights may not necessarily occur; a “flying day” is when the Airport is open and scheduled flights are expected. However, there will be the possibility of charter and medevac flights arriving on St Helena; therefore restrictions will apply on those days too.
This brief guide has been produced to help describe the rules (known as “Articles”) and to offer further advice.
Airspace in St Helena
The lower airspace over St Helena is made up of a Controlled Traffic Region (CTR). The Order restricts and prohibits other aviation activities within the CTR depending on whether an aircraft is flying through it.
There are fewer restrictions on activities that take place on the west of the island i.e. to the west of Alarm Forest, because aircraft are unlikely to be flying in this area. Nevertheless, some restrictions remain in place to ensure air safety is maintained.
If you intend to fly something, or if you wish to use anything that might cause glare on days when flights could take place, please contact the Airport to find out how restrictions apply on that day.
Article 70 – Balloons
This Article is generally concerned with large balloons such as hot-air balloons and tethered ‘barrage’ balloons used for advertising. However, it does place restrictions on “small balloons” e.g. those that you’d buy for a party or a celebration.
It says that it is not permissible to release 1000 small balloons from a single location (i.e. within 1 square kilometre) over a period of less than 15 minutes
Article 71 – Kites
Kites must not be flown more than 60 metres above ground at any location on the Island unless prior permission has been sought from Air Safety Support International (ASSI).
Article 73 – Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA)
SUAs (also known as quadcopters, UAVs, radio controlled aircraft or drones) are subject to restrictions depending upon when and where they are flown.
See the “Using a drone” page on this website for further details.
Other Safety-related Articles
Article 163 – Aeronautical Lights
The Order prohibits the negligent or intentional interference with an aeronautical ground light. Although this mainly applies to the lights on and around the runway, it also applies to lights outside the Airport such as the twelve Remote Obstacle Lights dotted around the Island.
Article 165 – Dangerous Lights
Ground-based high-powered lights and lasers can pose a risk to the safety of aircraft landing or departing at St Helena.
When aircraft approach and take-off from St Helena, pilots require high levels of concentration and need to have a good view of the Airport and surrounding environs. High-powered lights and lasers have the ability to dazzle and disorientate pilots at a time when they are most busy.
Therefore the Order prohibits the use of anything that can cause glare, or could distract or dazzle pilots.
For more information on the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order, please contact the St Helena Government Airport Directorate (+290 22494). Air Safety Support International (ASSI) in the UK can be contacted on +44 1293 214040 or via their website (http://www.airsafety.aero)