Jersey air traffic system 'is unfit for purpose'

Jersey Air Traffic Control
Image caption Jersey airport controls airspace for all three Channel Island airports

Jersey's new air traffic control system has been described as "unfit for purpose", by the head of a private pilots' association.

Charles Strasser, of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, said restrictions were putting off many private pilots from coming to Jersey.

The new £11.7m air traffic control tower came into service in 2010.

Sandy Sawyer, Jersey Airport's operations manager, said only a few local people have objected.

She said the new rules made it clearer what visiting pilots need to do before they fly into the island.

'Load of rubbish'

Ms Sawyer also dismissed criticism of the control tower: "That is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever heard in my whole life, this tower is second to none and is a facility that is the first of its kind across the UK."

The tower gives air traffic controllers in Jersey responsibility for the whole Channel Islands airspace.

Mr Strasser said restrictions had recently been put in place requiring private pilots to pre-book special permission to enter the airspace.

This information is then passed to air traffic controllers as part of a pilot's flight plans.

Mr Strasser said a recent poll in a national magazine showed 16% voted to stop visiting the Channel Islands, more than half said they would be less likely to visit and just under 30 said it would make no difference to their plans.

He said: "The national aviation magazine called the Flyer has been running a blog on this which is up to nine full pages by different people.

"I would say 99% of them say that this is unnecessary. Let's have the figures and let them prove it is necessary, why don't they do that?"

New control measures in the Channel Islands' airspace will come into force for three months over the summer, starting on Thursday.

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