ATC experience of authorisation zones

Hi all.
How do you get on with the local ATC? I live within the authorisation zone of my local airport (Southend) and I get mixed messages from them. I unlock using the DJI fly safe and on my first encounter with them on day of flight was “yes that’s fine, here’s a reference number , how long is your flight, call us when you finish and give 101 a ring to let them know” which I did. A week later did the same and was told very rudely by someone else that “they shouldn’t have given me permission and I needed to write or email them at least 2 weeks before.and it would be considered” which seems rediculous as who knows what the weather would be like then plus their are harder any flights at the moment. Who’s right here?
Sorry for the long question but I would appreciate your experiences TIA.

The ATCs that I have dealt with appreciate an email well before the event. They are also fully aware of the weather changing or differing from forecast so show no surprise or annoyance if you ring on the day and cancel.

An email gives them a paper trail, giving advance notice allows them time to check that your flight can safely fit into their normal operations and, depending on the airfield, ensure all pilots are aware of you operating at position, altitude, time and date.

You also have the advantage of that paper trail - you can print out the acceptance email or show it on your phone to anyone who questions your right to be flying inside a zone. Also, should the worst happen and an incident occurs both sides have a clear record of what had been agreed.

A phone call doesn’t provide those safeguards.


Thanks for that. How far in advance do you email them?

Normally two weeks in advance. The system isn’t foolproof, I have had to chase a couple of times by phoning. I have always found the various ATCs very willing to help where they can and also appreciative of the calls to say when I’m on site and when I have finished.

Great thanks mate, I will do that in future. It’s just that first time when it was ok confused me a tad :blush:

Sadly, whoever answers the phone when you ring ATC :confused:

Maybe they were just having a bad day.

Most reports of ATC dealings that are shared here have been nothing but positive.


I think they were. It must be pretty boring for them at the moment :slightly_smiling_face: