Out of a Clear Blue Sky

June 11, 2020

By Peter Dixon

The Government has announced the outcome of a short consultation carried out in March on proposals to amend the Civil Aviation (Aerial Advertising) Regulations 1995 to permit ‘skytyping’ and ‘skywriting’.

Skytyping is “an aerial activity that delivers a line of text in the sky, visible from the ground, made by a group of aeroplanes flying in a line abreast formation emitting smoke at coordinated intervals in a similar way to a dot matrix printer” whereas skywriting “is an aerial activity by an aeroplane flying to create curves and lines of smoke which have the appearance of letters or symbols from the ground.” Both activities were banned in 1960 in the face of concerns over the technical skills of pilots and aircraft safety. The planned relaxation was foreshadowed in a the more wide-ranging green paper ‘Aviation 2050’ published at the end of 2018.

There were 90 replies to the recent consultation. Those in favour noted that skytyping and skywriting could add entertainment and display value to outdoor events and could be used both by private individuals (e.g. to make marriage proposals) and for public purposes (e.g. national commemorations). Those against cited likely impacts from noise and visual intrusion as well as upon the government’s air quality and climate change ambitions.

The government has noted the issues raised but believes them to be minimal and capable of being mitigated against.  It proposes to move forward with amendments to the 1995 Regulations, the Air Navigation Order 2016 and other regulations in due course.