The following is an excerpt from the Skyway Code:

Pilots are encouraged to talk to appropriate ATSUs when flying outside controlled airspace. Situational awareness and safety may be enhanced by use of an air traffic service.

Basic Service

A Basic Service is intended to offer the pilot maximum autonomy and is available to IFR flights in Class G airspace, or VFR flights in Class E and Class G airspace. If the ATCO or FISO are aware of airspace activity that may affect your flight they will tell you; however, this is subject to their workload and the avoidance of other traffic is solely the pilot’s responsibility. Maintain a good lookout.

Traffic Service

Under a Traffic Service, an ATCO will use radar to provide you with detailed traffic information on specific conflicting aircraft; they will not provide you with deconfliction advice, regardless of your meteorological conditions. A Traffic Service is available to IFR flights in Class G airspace, or VFR flights in Class E and Class G airspace.

Deconfliction Service

Only available to IFR flights in Class G airspace. An ATCO will use radar to provide you with detailed traffic information on specific conflicting aircraft and advice on how to avoid that aircraft. However, the pilot retains responsibility for collision avoidance; you can opt not to follow the ATCO’s advice.

More details of the UK FIS can be found in CAP 1434 – www.caa.co.uk/cap1434 and CAP 774 – www.caa.co.uk/cap774.

WHAT SERVICE TO ASK FOR?

> It is common practice for GA pilots to request a Basic Service if operating in good VMC and a traffic service if in reduced visibility or entering IMC.

> In fact, there can sometimes be a greater collision risk on good weather days since there is more traffic around. If you do not have any traffic awareness equipment on board the aircraft, you should consider requesting a traffic information service, as see-and-avoid alone is known to be an imperfect means of detecting other aircraft.

REQUESTING A SERVICE

When operating under VFR you will generally be calling enroute radio stations unannounced. This is known as a ‘freecall’. There is a standard template for a freecall that can be varied for almost all requests that you will likely wish to make:

> Who you are and what you want – callsign, aircraft type and request;

> What you are doing – point of departure and destination, route or area of operation and/or intentions;

> Where you are – position and altitude/ level. Use a reference point such as a major town or aerodrome, that the controller will be able to identity; and

> What you want – for example a ‘Basic Service’ or a controlled airspace transit.

Simple requests such as ‘Basic Service’ should be placed in the initial call, although you may need to give more information after the controller has asked you to ‘pass your message’.

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