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Italy slowing catching up on international standards for airspace structure

Good news from Italy. But before that, just a little background:

Italy has been known for years for its VFR-unfriendly airspace structure. This is mainly because of two aspects:

  1. Most CTRs are unnecessarily huge in size. The worst for VFR pilots are those CTR sectors which reach all the way to the ground. (Those sectors which start at, say, 2000 feet MSL are still a nuisance, but at least, it is possible to pass "below" that sector).

Those "ground-CTR"s often spread over many hundreds of square miles, effectively blocking the way for VFR traffic in the area. Of course, a clearance can principally obtained for class D and class C CTRs, but:

-it's considered a "diffculty" by many leisure pilots and discourages them (whether this should be the case is for another topic). Also, "unnecessary" VFR crossings create unnecessary workload on the controller side

-certain CTRs will just not allow any VFR traffic in (Linate CTR for example)

-in Italy, "basic" mircolights (the biggest part of the "GA fleet there") is still not allowed to fly in controlled airspace.

Things can get particularly nasty when two or three major airports are something like 30 or 40 miles apart...in this case, the italian airspace designers often just create one single CTR, covering huge areas with CAS all the way to the ground (Verona CTR for example)!

  1. The other big problem is the TMAs (or at least those which are classified as class A, i.e. Rome and Milan TMAs). A lot has been said about these.

For a few years now, a group of VFR pilots and aviation enthusiasts (partnered by AOPA Italy and Aeroclub Italy) has been lobbying and fighting for improvements on the above two fronts. Some worthwhile improvements have been made in recent years, for example on the Florence (Firenze) CTR.

Now, they have landed their first "big" coup: The restructuring of Northeast Italy's lower airspace.

As many pilots who have been VFR to Italy will know (and also those who have taken the time to study a chart, but then refrained from going...), the situation in the Northeast is bizarre, to say the least. Basically it is all covered by CAS, all the way to the ground! Granted, there are a handful of major airports in the area (Venice, Treviso, Ronchi, plus a few military airports including Aviano), but still, it was a total overkill and a huge obstacle for VFR pilots.

While the recently obtained result is far from ideal, it is a huge step forward. Look here:

This will allow much more freedom of movement for VFR pilots (and a possibility for basic microlight pilots to fly "legally" in the Northeast). The changes are expected to become effective possibly with the august or september AIRAC cycle.

However, for the start, it looks like this will be valid only on weekends. I wonder how that will work with just one set of charts, though. But let's give it a little patience. If all goes well, the changes might become permanent and 7/7.

But this is not the end: the same team is now set to spread this "concept" all over Italy. The result would be an airpsace structure much more similar to say, the german airspace structure.

Here is a link to a proposal that has just been presented to the authorities. Towards the end of the document, you can see how today's various "problem areas" would change according to the proposal. However, this is still very far from becoming reality.

Lessons learnt: Even though the european GA light GA scene is utterly small and has little "leverage" against the burocrats and the interests of the commercial airline lobbies... personal commitment, perseverance, smartness and competence can make a difference!

Well done, so far!

Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

That's great stuff. I was not aware of the existing prohibition on basic microlight flying in the northeast part of the country. I have a good friend who lives in Pordenone and I know that a manufacturer of that type of aircraft is located nearby... How do they do it?

I was in Italy for a while within the last 10 days and as before, I was struck by what a wonderful geography it would be (and is) to fly over. I didn't see much flying on this trip though, just one lonely Cherokee flying over Casole d'Elsa in Toscana.

To answer your question: there are a few "local" arrangements which have been made for local microlight pilots to allow them to fly at least "semi-legally". In Pordenone for expample, there are a handful of "microlight corridors".

But mostly, italian "basic" microlight pilots just fly illegally, that is: within the CTR airspace. However, most of them use good judgement, i.e. they stay very low and stay well clear of the approach paths of the main airports. Whilst the "staying very low" bit (say, at 200-800 feet) does indeed prevent conficts with IFR traffic, it does of course put themselves in danger, for example in case of bad visibility or engine trouble. An old chestnut in Italy.

Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

Excellent. I get the impression that GA has been beaten to death in the last few years and now there is a sort of pity among regulators who are trying to to make things a bit better for us :-)

boscomantico, good news, and thank you.

Next steps would be to reclassify all the Class A TMAs to Class C and raise the base so that it is significantly above MSA.

Looking good ! It's nice to hear good news for a change.

certain CTRs will just not allow any VFR traffic in (Linate CTR for example)

I wonder why we don't see things like the LAX mini route or the Los Angeles Special Flight Rules Area... if it works there it can certainly work here too.

I flew a BRENO PULA a few times VFR and was cleared through that particular airspace without any problems. I did have to report overhead Aviana.

As I came from the alps I was descending from FL170. It is a beautifull high speed descend.

In fact, navigating the "Northeast CTR" is not difficult at all, at least for someone who is comfortable dealing with ATC. On weekends, you will get any routing and altitude you request, despite the depicted standard VFR tracks which might suggest otherwise. I have flown Verona - Ljubiliana a few times - on a straight line! On weekdays, it can be a little more difficult (due to Aviano being active) but not much so. As I said, the proposal is largely driven by the italian basic microlight crowd, which makes for possibly 85% of all italian GA movements and which cannot legally use controlled airspace.

Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

I'm hoping to fly from Aosta to Venice on Sunday, and I'm pretty confused by all this.

My intention is to start out low below the TMA and restricted area and try to get an SVFR climb from ATC.... Or something along those lines :)

Anyone any advice on what's best, or what I could expect? With all that terrain I don't much like the idea of flying so low.

EGKL

Carl,

No reason to be too confused.

First of all, forget about the aispace changes according to this topic; they'll come into force in early autumn only.

Get the 2013 Jeppesen LI-1 VFR-GPS chart. Study it. Some notes:

-the entire northwest of Italy is "covered" by Milan TMA, which is airspace A, thus impenetrable for VFR. This TMA has several different sectors with varying lower limits. What is therefore important is to always know the lower limit of TMA for the sector in which you are flying. This is depicted on the chart, but it's still sometimes difficult keep up. The lowest lower limits of the TMA is "2000 feet MSL or 1000 feet AGL, whatever is higher". Therefore as long as you maintain roughly 1000 feet AGL, you can't do anything wrong. Call Milano FIS to ake you don"t do anything they don't like. Be prepared fot lots of blabla over the radio though. Once past Brescia, you will be clear of the Milan TMA.

-then there are the CTRs. Most of them are class D, a few are class C. Attention: CTRs in Italy also have various sectors, some of which are detached from the ground (actually, those would be a CTAs according to ICAO, but the italians don't use that term). Being mostly class D, CTRs -at least in theory, penetrable for VFR. Howver, in most cases, they will not issue clearances for those CTRs underlying the Milano TMA (Malpensa, Linate, Bergamo). So prepare to fly around those. As you get further east, this changes though. Verona CTR can be crossed on any routing, provided you obtain clearance from APP. Same for Treviso CTR.

For the full story, have google translate this for you.

Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany
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