Important airspace changes occurred on Thursday 26 May 2016 that directly affect a number of our commonly used sites. 

Please read this message very carefully. See also 'Other Documents' links in the Members' Area for further details and background.

 On Thursday 26-May-2016 all Class E airspace in the Belfast TMA was reclassified to Class D.

Paragliders and hang gliders are permitted to fly in Class E without contacting Air Traffic Control (ATC) but this is not the case for Class D. 

Class D is effectively closed to us.

This reclassification affects the following sites:-


Soarable Wind Direction

Hill Height

Class D (formerly Class E)

1.1 Knockagh Monument (S-SE)




1.2 Agnew's Hill (E-SE)




1.3 Shane’s Hill (SE)




1.4 Big Collin (S-SE)




1.5 Divis & Cavehill


1698 (mast)

Class D

1.6 Slieve Croob (N-E)




1.7 Slieve Donard




The UHPC, BHPA and UGC all strenuously opposed the airspace change and submitted independent but coordinated objections within the consultation period. 

Although unable to prevent the airspace change from going ahead, the CAA did make it a condition that Aldergrove ATC must agree and sign a Letter of Agreement (LOA) with the UHPC before implementation.

After a number of meetings and negotiations the LOA was signed yesterday. It defines five “designated areas” or boxes within Class D airspace that UHPC members can  activate for our use.

1.            Big Collin/Agnews

2.            Knockagh

3.            Slieve Croob

4.            Slieve Donard

5.            Divis/Cave Hill (not yet available to fly as negotiations with National Trust continue)


It is possible to soar all these sites (except Divis) without the need to contact ATC provided Class D airspace is not infringed. 

This is particularly an issue at Agnew's where Class D starts only 445 feet above the top of the hill - easily reached in good soaring conditions.

If XC flights or high soaring flights are possible then it is essential to contact ATC to activate the 'designated areas' and obtain clearance to fly.


So if you wish to fly in Class D airspace you MUST:

1. Read the Letter of Agreement (attached) and ensure you fully understand it. It is the law.

2. Ensure you have a GPS or properly set altimeter.

3. Ensure you have a working radio tuned to the club frequency 144.725MHz

4. Follow the "UHPC Procedure" defined in section 6.1 precisely.


Below is an extract from the LOA, however before contacting ATC you must read and fully understand the LOA.

The LOA contains the box boundaries and illustrative maps. This link is a good one to bookmark as it clearly shows the extent of each box on Google maps.

 !!! If you intend to activate a designated area, please read the LOA first so you are familiar with all the conditions. !!!


6.1       UHPC Procedure

1.         All UHPC pilots must be briefed before activating this LOA.

2.         A UHPC pilot will contact ATC at Aldergrove at least 15 mins prior to a planned flight to agree a time window and maximum permitted altitude for the required flying area. [ATC tel: 028 9448 4282 and 028 9448 4281]

3.         When a site is activated, the pilot initiating the activation will leave his name and contact number with ATC in case of emergency.

4.         On receiving an emergency call from ATC, the pilot will ensure that the call is responded to within 15 mins. If required, this pilot must have a method of ensuring that the area is vacated and shall advise Belfast/Aldergrove ATC when this is complete.

5.         Other pilots must confirm the vertical extent and time window before launch by contacting ATC or another informed pilot.

6.         All times agreed between ATC and the UHPC will be ‘local’ time.

7.         UHPC pilots will ensure that they are flying with a means of determining altitude (amsl) whether by GPS or barometric altimeter set to QNH. Such devices will have a tolerance of +/- 100ft.

8.         Pilots will ensure that they remain within the defined lateral notified areas of each designated site where bounded by Class D Airspace.

9.         Pilots will ensure that they meet the VFR flight minima as published for Class D Airspace.

10.      A UHPC pilot will notify ATC when flying has ceased earlier than the agreed expiry time.

11.      These LOAs refer only to segregated flying activity within Class D Airspace. ATC has no control or authority over other IFR/VFR flights which may be operating within Class G Airspace beneath the designated areas.

12.      Pilots must be aware that other VFR flights may transit the Designated Areas during the times of activation.

This notice constitutes a briefing to UHPC pilots.
The "method of ensuring the area is vacated" is by FM radio on the club frequency 144.725MHz.
This information will be repeated and elaborated in a future issue of the club magazine and if there is demand we could organise a club evening to answer any questions on the history and reasoning behind the airspace change and the UHPC LOA.