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Summary of actual VFR/IFR GA flying procedures per country?

Thinking of a few of the different oddities we have regarding differences in how aviation works in the different European countries, for instance:

  • In the UK, you’re never to enter controlled airspace unless someone explicitly says the phrase “cleared to enter…” to you; regardless of whether you are IFR and have a filed EuroControl FPL etc. Also lots of funny R/T.
  • In France, you can be VFR in radio contact with ATC and they’ll happilly let you bust a milititary restricted area.
  • In Germany, IFR in Class G is not permitted.
  • In Spain (and Croatia), when VFR and in radio contact with air traffic control, the airspace class you are in seems to be irrelevant, they will often provide you with instructions and separation, even VFR in Class E. If you behave like IFR (constant altitude and heading) they will treat you as such. It’s a case of “if it has feathers like a duck and quaks like a duck, then it must be a duck!”
  • Generally one should not expect to be able to file an IFR flight plan while airborne. In theory possible, but it rarely works and in some places it PROB99.99 won’t work (UK)
    etc. etc.

Of course, the obvious answer to this is: read the AIP, and sure enough everybody who’s going to be flying in a given country should read its AIP.
But, firstly there is usually a difference between what’s stated in the AIP as the “theory” and what actually happens in practical flying. And also, a summary of the most important things to bear in mind while flying in different countries would be a very useful addition to the kneeboard of a pilot who flies around Europe a lot, because the AIP contains a lot of useless information for practical flying, and sometimes it’s not clear what actually is important and what isn’t.

If there isn’t maybe we could start one! It’s just a matter of putting the collective experience of the EuroGA’s users together.

Last Edited by Alpha_Floor at 07 Apr 09:37
United Kingdom

I like the idea very much and I even started a Wiki for this under https://fly.uraster.com/. However, I never found the time to work on it, also I don’t have so much experience. I would participate in the creation of such a collection and I can organize its hosting at least for the first year or two but I would need the community’s help to stay motivated and to gather the information.

LSZH, LSZF, Switzerland

Croatian AIP is pretty much aligned with reality both IFR and VFR. Actually, the reality is more relaxed probably due to low level of traffic. VFR above 1000 AGL is subjected to FPL, radar controlled, gets full separation and gets all info plus usually vectored around restricted areas. IFR GA has same treatment as CAT.

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

VFR above 1000 AGL is subjected to FPL, radar controlled, gets full separation

Isn‘t most of the airspace class D? How do you get full separation when flying VFR in class D? Even in class C, VFR doesn‘t get full separation from other VFR…

Last Edited by boscomantico at 07 Apr 09:29
Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

boscomantico wrote:

Isn‘t the airspace all class D? How do you get full separation when flying VFR in class D?

I bet there is a difference between the theory and the practice there.

It happens in Spain very often as well. You may be VFR in Class D or (even Class E), and ATC will “de facto” separate you from others if they can.

I also noticed that in Spain, they treat you differently if you “appear to be IFR”, that is, if you are VFR but flying at constant altitude, in a straight line, and it seems like you know what you’re doing, they will sometimes treat you like you’re IFR, giving you headings for separation, altitudes etc.
In fact I was once given an instruction to fly to an airways waypoint while on a VFR flight! I quickly coded the waypoint in the Garmin and flew to it, but I found it quite strange at the time as I was VFR.

Last Edited by Alpha_Floor at 07 Apr 09:33
United Kingdom

Alpha_Floor wrote:

You may be VFR in Class D or (even Class E), and ATC will “de facto” separate you from others if they can.

Exactly.

Alpha_Floor wrote:

I also noticed that in Spain, they treat you differently if you “appear to be IFR”, that is, if you are VFR but flying at constant altitude, in a straight line, and it seems like you know what you’re doing, they will sometimes treat you like you’re IFR, giving you headings for separation, altitudes etc.

Same here.

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

I think ATC separation is well defined but ATC may have procedures to deconflict or isolate traffic

On has to flip the coin: which countries allow VFR to roam free and freely get close to IFR in class D on their own separation?

As far as I know, only US does this, ATC in the rest of countries will never let VFR get anywhere near IFR in Class D, especially heavy metal, even if you confirm visual & own separation, VFR will still get challenged to orbit/hold or change heading/altitude…

The main reason being TCAS !!

Last Edited by Ibra at 07 Apr 09:41
Paris/Essex, United Kingdom

Alpha_Floor wrote:

In Germany, IFR in Class G is not permitted.

That is debatable. Germany has no authority to override SERA which says that IFR is class G is permitted. On the other hand, the airspace structure makes (enroute) uncontrolled IFR unfeasible. I know that German ATC issues clearances with the phrase “IFR starts at (level)” to traffic departing non-instrument airport, but it is not at all clear that they have the right to impose that restriction. (And AFAIU, it is generally ignored by pilots anyway.)

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Ibra wrote:

ATC in the rest of countries will never let VFR get anywhere near IFR in Class D

Exactly.

In Spain I don’t see any practical difference whatsoever between Class D and Class C.

And this is funny because there is ONE CTR in Spain that is Class C: GCTS Tenerife South. All others are Class D. I have asked the local controllers there and they don’t seem to operate any differently than if it was Class D. I guess the only real difference is one of liability if something goes wrong.

United Kingdom

Airborne_Again wrote:

Germany has no authority to override SERA which says that IFR is class G is permitted.

Well SERA can say whatever but if the national authority operates in a different way the pilot has to comply in practice, there’s no way around it unless you have the time, money and patience to take that NAA to court…

From a flight time logging point of view: could the German authority bust a pilot who is logging IFR time blocks to blocks when departure/arrival airfields are in Class G? What about insurance if something happens to an IFR flight, in IMC, in Class G?

EASA FCL also says that pilot logbooks are legal proof of flight hours and to the Spanish NAA a logbook has ZERO validity. All hours must be certified by accompanying certificates from the ATOs, with lots of stamps and signatures.

Last Edited by Alpha_Floor at 07 Apr 09:51
United Kingdom
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