HC Deb 01 April 1998 vol 309 cc547-8W
Helen Jackson

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the regulations covering military aircraft breaking the sound barrier above(a) urban and (b) other areas. [36406]

Mr. Spellar

The following regulations, which are an extract from Military Flying Regulations, apply to supersonic flying by military aircraft in UK airspaceIn the United Kingdom Flight Information Region (FIR), all medium and high level supersonic flights are to be made over the sea. Aircraft heading directly out to sea may accelerate to supersonic speed when at least 10 nautical miles (nm) out to sea and along a flight of at least 20° divergent from the mean line of the coast; the angle of dive is not to exceed the minimum necessary. Supersonic flights with the aircraft pointing towards the land, turning or flying parallel to the coast are to take place at least 35nm from the nearest coastline. Supersonic flying at low level over the sea within UK FIR may take place provided that the above rules are followed and that, in addition, a radar/visual search is maintained in order to avoid the following by the margins indicated: (a) Shipping and fixed or mobile oil and gas installations: 3nm. (b) Civilian or military transport aircraft: a minimum of 6nm. (c) Helicopter main routes and corridors: 6nm. With the exception of Air Defence missions, operating authorities are to notify the appropriate radar station of all planned supersonic flights in advance. Radar stations are to maintain a permanent record of supersonic flights carried out under their control. If any captain knows or suspects that his aircraft has inadvertently made a supersonic flight he is to enter details in the Flight Authorisation Book. In addition, it is the responsibility of the station concerned to notify the appropriate radar station of the flight within 30 minutes of the aircraft's landing. The radar station is to maintain a special record of all such occurrences.

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