UK Aeronautical Information Services

NATS Swanwick, Room 3115

Sopwith Way,

Southampton, SO31 7AY

01489 887462

01912 032329 (Distribution)


AIC for United Kingdom

Aeronautical Information Service


Y 017/2019

Effective 14 MAR 2019

  Airspace User Portal - Non-Standard Flights

1 — Background

1.1 NSFs have seen a 100% increase in applications in the last year, largely due to changes to the Air Navigation Order in relation to drones. In order to provide a more efficient service and to keep up with these changes it is necessary for us to update our process and introduce a systematised approach updating the ability for airspace users to access controlled airspace.
1.2 Following the introduction of the NATS Airspace User Portal (AUP) in January 2018 to enable pilots to pre-notify requests for VFR crossing or transit clearance of Class D CTA and CTR in the London Area (AIC Y 055/2018 refers), this portal has now been expanded to include the filing of all Non-Standard Flights (NSFs).
1.3 A simple online application tool (part of NATS Airspace User Portal) is available, which allows operators/pilots to apply for a Non-Standard Flight in advance. The methodology meets with the requirements set out in the UK IAIP for Non-Standard Flights (NSFs) in Controlled Airspace (ENR 1.1, paragraph 4).

2 — Benefits

2.1 Providing automated information to Air Traffic Control (ATC) via the portal has several potential advantages:
  1. Providing a common Flight Information Notification service for all non-standard airspace users and approvers;

  2. Providing a centralised system to enable full oversight of non-standard activity;

  3. Updating current Non-Standard Flight process to improve efficiency;

  4. Software tool to improve access to airspace;

  5. Enable early warning of requests;

  6. Enable better planning of NSFs in Controlled Airspace;

  7. Reduce ATC workload and therefore enable more efficient use of the airspace;

  8. Reduce impact of drones on NATS;

  9. Reduce the likely disruption from drone activity to operations near manned aviation.

3 — Evaluation of the Airspace User Portal for Non-Standard Flights

3.1 In order to improve efficiency an evaluation is to be conducted for the filing of all NSFs via the AUP.
3.2 This evaluation will continue until further notice. Enhancements to the NSF Tool will be made as the evaluation progresses.

4 — Procedure

4.1 An operator/pilot of any flight that intends to operate in controlled airspace or within a Flight Restriction Zone (FRZ) is required to apply in advance for a Non-Standard Flight via the AUP, as per the UK IAIP.
4.2 Access to the NSF Tool is available via the NATS Airspace User Portal web page at:

4.3 A simple registration process allows operators/pilots to set up and manage their own account, making the NSF application process quicker as their information will pre-populate. It allows operators/pilots to use a Mapping Tool to plan their flight with either geo location, points on map, latitude and longitude, etc. It also allows airspace layers, Base Mapping layers including VFR charts/NOTAMS to be switched on or off. It allows operators/pilots the ability to view all their NSF applications and the status of them in their account.
4.4 The Non-Standard Flight application will be processed in advance. Requests for long term NSFs, i.e. one year, can be made.
4.5 The NSF will be ‘Approved in Principal’ or rejected.
4.6 On the day of the intended NSF the operator/pilot will activate online through the AUP at least 60 minutes before the intended request time and await ATC approval/clearance.
4.7  Electronic activation does not constitute any approval or clearance to cross or enter any Controlled Airspace.
4.8 After activation of the NSF the information will be provided to the ATC Unit(s) responsible for the selected airspace.
4.9 The ATC Unit will consider the request for access and depending on traffic, workload, conditions etc. then either approve or reject the request, or an alternative clearance will be provided. An acknowledgement of this will be sent back to the user.
4.10 The aircraft must remain outside any CAS until such time as ATC have provided a clearance.
4.11  Whilst there remains no guarantee that ATC clearance can be provided on every occasion that a request is made, the pre-notification of the NSF via the AUP should enable some measure of pre-planning by ATC.
4.12 Should the flight subsequently not take place, or the NSF is no longer required, the request can be aborted by the operator/pilot.

5 — Feedback and Further Information

5.1 Feedback on this evaluation is welcomed and should be submitted via email to:

Please do not use this address for the submission of any Non-Standard Flight requests.