Veering a bit off-topic, the GAR procedure is one of the most pointless impediments to flying around these islands (other than the price of fuel
). While enacted under the heading of preventing "terrorism" it now seems to be mainly just a bureaucratic intelligence-gathering exercise. Considering the makeup of the current NI government you'd think that tracking the pilots of private planes on intra-British Isles flights is pretty daft. And Bad Persons are unlikely to worry about filling up forms.
Different UK police forces have quite different ideas about what is required of the non-commercial private pilot. Common myths:
- "You need to get permission": you do not need to get permission
;(at least one force actually requires you to get a flight authorisation number), your obligation is to give "at least 12 hours' notice in writing to a constable for the police area in which the port is situated" ;
- "You need to notify PC Bloggs, and he's out at present": you do not need to notify a named officer
, see quote above;
- "You need to give 24 hours' notice": the law requires 12 hours
, see above;
- "GAR form required when entering the UK from France etc." - some forces seek this but there seems to be no legal basis
- "But officer, I sent my fax to the National Co-ordination Unit"; in spite of the name, this is for Customs only
and only a few forces seem to accept it as compliance with the police obligation. I presume all the readers of this thread dutifully fax UK Customs every time they enter or leave N Ireland.
There is ongoing confusion as to the correct fax numbers to use, most of the published police numbers on the commonly-used GAR format are inoperative.
Keep a proof of your fax transmission
, you may be challenged (in fact, some day you will definitely be challenged). Also it would be wise to carry a copy of the relevant Schedule to the Terrorism Act 2000 with the ship's papers to ward off overzealous guardians of the law.
The United Kingdom seems to be the only country in Europe (except perhaps Russia) that requires police clearance/notification for some internal domestic private flights.
Maybe the only thing worse than the GAR procedure would be if there was no procedure. Ireland is I think unique in Europe in having no GA access to the airspace of mainland Europe without passing through its immediate neighbour's airspace. At least, if you have the range, you don't have to land there!