Bristol Lower Airspace Radar Service to close

19 February 2018

The Bristol Airport Lower Airspace Radar Service (LARS) is to close at the end of February, it was announced today by Bristol Airport and NATS.

Until now, NATS Bristol has provided LARS between the hours of 10.00 and 18.00, but as the commercial operation at Bristol Airport continues to grow the decision has been taken to focus on the primary task of service delivery to flights within controlled airspace.

Steve O’Donoghue, the NATS general manager at Bristol Airport tower, said: “This isn’t a decision that’s been taken lightly, but having been assured that we are meeting the CAA’s requirements, we have regretfully come to the conclusion that there is no other feasible option but to close the LARS service.

“We believe this will strike the best balance between maintaining the best possible access to controlled airspace for all users, while at the same time recognising the sustained traffic growth the airport is seeing.”

Bristol Airport saw 73,536 aircraft movements in 2016, up 8% on the previous year.

LARS were originally introduced in 1979 as a voluntary scheme to provide an air traffic service to general aviation pilots flying in the vicinity of airfields that didn’t enjoy the protection of controlled airspace. Given Bristol now has its own control zone that segregates arriving and departing flights from traffic operating in Class G airspace, the LARS has outlived it’s original purpose.

Although Bristol LARS will close on Wednesday 28 February, a number of alternative services will remain available to pilots. There are multiple nearby LARS units with overlapping areas of coverage, including Cardiff, Brize Radar, Boscombe Down, Yeovilton and Bournemouth during notified hours. A 24 hour Basic Service is also available from London Information.

Steve concludes: “While LARS is closing, all pilots are still able to request access to controlled airspace, and we strongly encourage all pilots to continue to use Bristol’s listening squawk of 5077 and maintain a listening watch on 125.650 MHz whenever they are operating in the vicinity of Bristol CAS.”


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