Controlled and uncontrolled airspace

There are two types of airspace — controlled and uncontrolled.

Airservices air traffic controllers manage controlled airspace. To enter controlled airspace, an aircraft must first gain a clearance from air traffic control. In controlled airspace all aircraft must have continual radio contact with air traffic control and submit a flight plan detailing the route and height they will fly. Some emergency operations do not have to submit a flight plan, due to the urgency of their flights.

All other airspace is uncontrolled. No clearance is required to operate in uncontrolled airspace and there is no supervision by air traffic control. Pilots operating in uncontrolled airspace must still comply with aviation regulations. However, they do not need to submit a flight plan and they may only have partial radio contact. The large majority of light aircraft and helicopters operate mostly in uncontrolled airspace.

Learn more about classes of airspace in our Guide to our operations booklet.

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