THE controlled air space around RAF Brize Norton is set to change after four decades because it is no longer fit for purpose according to RAF chiefs.

Pilots have had to take evasive action to avoid civilian traffic on the approach to the airfield and in one year there were more than 40 incidents that led to flight safety reports being filed. In one incident last year a C17 transport aircraft climbed out below a glider.

A major consultation is under way with local authorities and residents in areas covered by the zone including parts of Wiltshire.

The base, which is seven miles from Lechlade, is the largest in the RAF and is home to strategic and tactical air transport squadrons, air to air refuelling units and others including the tactical medical wing.

Station commander, Group Capt Tim Jones said the existing design was not right for the current arrivals and departures.

“Aircraft regularly leave the protected confines of CAS, which can bring them into conflict with other aircraft operating autonomously outside in open airspace.

“Additionally, RAF Brize Norton has no connectivity to the UK airways network, meaning aircraft have to transit through uncontrolled airspace when flying to and from the UK airways network.”

The situation has been exacerbated since the closure of RAF Lyneham in 2012.

The proposal is to increase the size of the controlled air space in a bid to reduce the risk of a mid-air collision within 20 nautical miles of the base.

At the moment aircraft lining up for their final approaches have to cross open air space, which potentially brings them into conflict with unknown traffic. Most aircraft leaving Brize Norton are sent on a route close to South Cerney airfield and Cotswold Airport, which are often busy with light aircraft.

Since 2012 air traffic controllers at the base have logged many instances where military aircraft have had to change course to avoid unknown traffic and maintain a safe distance from it.

The consultation document is available on RAF Brize Norton’s website at