Aerodrome Safeguarding

Aerodrome safeguarding ensures the safety of aircraft in the vicinity of an aerodrome by controlling potentially hazardous development and activity around it. Belfast City Airport are Certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). To comply with the terms of this certificate, GBBCA need to ensure that developments surrounding the airfield do not compromise any aspect of the operation. This is referred to as 'safeguarding'. A principle objective is to ensure structures do not impact on Instrument Flight Procedures or Navigation Aids.

There are three main types of aerodrome safeguarding:

Physical - protects a set of flight safety surfaces up to a 30km radius around the airfield.
Technical - protects aircraft navigational equipment from interference or disruption
Wildlife Management - prevents development areas from creating an environment attractive to birds.

Safeguarded maps of 30km radius centred on the aerodrome indicate the areas, or Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS), within which developments that could have a detrimental effect on aircraft operations require consultation with the aerodrome.



Areas of development interest within 15km of the airport:

• Tall structures
• Cranes or other construction equipment (within 6km)
• Landscaping schemes which could encourage wildlife (within 13km)
• Lighting and illuminated signage which could dazzle pilots or air traffic controllers
• Use of Chinese lanterns or balloon releases
• Firework displays
• Developments using highly reflective materials such as glazed roofs or photo voltaic cells
• Masts or antennas emitting signals which could interfere with airport navigation aids

Areas of development interest within 30km of the airport:

• Wind Turbines


The physical impact cranes can have on aircraft flight safety surfaces can affect aircraft operations, and pilots need to be fully aware of the location and height of any cranes which could impact their flight path.

Crane operators should consult the aerodrome for permission to work if a crane is to be used within 6km of the airfield and its height exceeds 10m or that of the surrounding structures or trees, completing a crane request form. It will then go through an approval process at the airport, and various caveats may be applied such as lowering the maximum height of the crane when the aerodrome is in Low Visibility Procedures. 

An Instrument Flight Procedures (IFP) assessment may be required, depending on the height and location of the proposed crane, which is carried out by NATS (National Air Traffic Services) at a cost to the crane operator / developer.

Contact [email protected] for a crane permit form which is to be completed and sent back to the same address.

Wind Turbines

Wind turbines can also pose a physical infringement on flight surfaces, however in addition to this, they can also cause problems with aircraft navigation aids, air traffic control radars, and can cause turbulence. The airport is responsible for assessing any proposed wind turbine sites within 30km of the aerodrome, to ensure safety for aircraft is maintained.

The Planning Authority will forward wind turbine applications, which fall within the safeguarded area, to the airport for assessment, who in turn may request that National Air Traffic Services (NATS) also assess it for any effect on navigational aids and radar.

Landscaping and Wildlife

Aircraft are vulnerable to bird strikes which can cause aviation incidents and accidents therefore it is important that the airport manage this risk. 80% of bird strikes occur on the take-off or landing phase of flight which highlights the necessity for wildlife management on and around the airfield.

The airport is responsible for monitoring bird activity within a 13km radius of the aerodrome. This is to mitigate the bird strike risk to aircraft and be aware of what species we have in the local area.

Any proposed developments which are looking to include landscaping or water features which may increase the risk of bird strike to aircraft must be forwarded to the airport for assessment. This includes landfill sites, wetlands and nature reserves. Wildlife attractants during the construction phase should also be considered.

Firework Displays, Laser Shows, Balloon/Kite/Lantern Releases, Tethered Unmanned Gas Balloons, etc.

These can distract or endanger aircraft therefore the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) offer guidance for anyone planning such an event in order to alert pilots and air traffic control in advance. The CAA are able to offer advice on any sort of event and strongly recommend that you contact them if you are planning a show near an airfield or where aircraft regularly fly.

See for advice.

Drones / Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) / Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA)

Small unmanned aircraft / drones are now widely available for commercial and recreational use and can cause injury or damage if they are not used responsibly therefore they are subject to safety rules, which are underpinned by UK law. 

Rules have been established to provide a safe environment in which drones can be flown without coming into conflict with manned aircraft and without risk to other people or properties with some specific additional steps that must be taken if a drone is being flown for ‘aerial work’, such as, you must be in possession of a Permission issued by the CAA before you conduct any aerial work with your drone.

On 30th July 2018 the following came into effect:
  • A 400ft height restriction for all drones, unless exempted by CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).
  • A 1km restriction around aerodromes (EASA certified, national licenced & government) consisting of 2 ‘zones’:
    • inner zone in airspace directly above aerodrome: in effect at all times, unless pilot has permission from aerodrome.
    • outer zone, extending 1km from aerodrome boundary: during ATCU hours of operation, unless pilot has permission from aerodrome.
   Drone Restriction Zones Belfast City Airport
Circumstances Airspace SUA Weight Restrictions
Flight takes place during hours of ATC / FIS (Flight Information Service Officer) Flight Restriction Zone Any Permission of ATC or FISO unit required.
No max height restriction.
CTR / ATZ >7kg Permission of ATC or FISO unit required.
Max height 400ft.
CTR / ATZ <7kg None
Flight takes place outside notified hours of ATC / FIS Flight Restriction Zone –
Inner Zone
Any Permission of Aerodrome Operator required for flight.
Flight Restriction Zone –
Outer Zone
Permission of CAA required for flight above 400ft. No max height restriction.

Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) flights are considered as non-standard and therefore permission, where required, is achieved by applying for a Non Standard Flight (NSF – see links below) approval which:
  • provides the SUA operator with an advanced strategic approval for the flight.
  • requires the operator to acquire clearance from the appropriate Air Traffic Control (ATC) unit on the day of the flight.
Anyone using a drone/SUA needs to be aware of the regulations contained in the Air Navigation Order (ANO).
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) guidelines can be found at:  
Belfast City Airport Aerodrome Operator can be contacted via  [email protected]
Air Traffic Control (ATC) at Belfast City Airport can be contacted via [email protected]
NATS #DroneAssist app shows areas around airports where it’s illegal to fly without prior permission, download for free here & fly safe.


Belfast City Airport can provide safeguarding related advice to developers and construction companies upon request to [email protected] and the Airport Operators Association (AOA) publish very useful concise Advice Notes ( on all of the topics listed above.