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Manchester and Liverpool zone crossing - VFR

I had occasion to use this yesterday and before leaving home looked up on the CAA website for any information The only thing I could find was a pdf dated from 2008 and with references to a few things that no longer apply. Can anyone enlighten me please? Is it simple a "free for all" so to speak withing the height restriction? No TMZ?, no calling anyone? etc> Thanks

UK, United Kingdom

The latest charts and procedures are in the AIP The corridor keeps you low, below MSA, so use it if you can't get direct clearance at higher altitudes. The corridor is Class D and therefore higher visibility rules apply, but no ATC clearance is needed to use it.

Don't attempt to fly it if you're marginal VMC or in IMC.

No radio contact is required, but you would be well advised to tune the Manchester App frequency and set the listening sqwawk if possible.

Personally I find the corridor quite scary - low, near-negligible land-clear options in parts, and often busy. When heading up the West side I either transit Liverpool (who are usually very accommodating) or fly round the WAL VOR. Even the short over-water section is preferable to the LLR.

EGBJ / Gloucestershire

The LLC isn't complicated at all, but it does involve flying very low over populated areas. I don't feel especially comfortable with that, but I have done it many times. I learned to fly through the LLC during my PPL training and it formed a key element of my QXC. Nowadays, if I have to use it, I keep a very close eye on the GPS.

The big drawback is that it is narrow and seriously height restricted. This has the effect of funnelling all the traffic into a very narrow band. Keep a very sharp look-out. I heard a rumour of someone going up through it in a biz jet. :-o

I tend to fly on the right-hand side of the corridor, as though it were a line feature, which seems sensible to me but I have no idea if others do the same. I have never experienced anything even close to a head-on situation in the LLC. Perhaps I have been lucky.

As Rich suggests, although no radio contact is required, it's probably a good idea to listen out on Manchester Approach and squawk 7366. You can ask them for a traffic service, but they are often very busy. I also frequently ask Liverpool for a short-cut and they are usually very accommodating.

The PDF from 2008 is still useful for landmarks along the route.

EGTT, The London FIR

I'd echo everything said above.

In particular there are pinch-points for single engine traffic (with extremely little vertical room due to airspace above and land-clear rules) over the more populated areas. Fortunately the low level route doesn't take too long to transit. Also, it seems that the best thermals are always in the low level route!

It seems to me that much UK airspace is predicated on the climb rate of a fully laden DC-3 with unreasonably low floors to certain bits of controlled airspace. I used to live in Houston, which has a VFR corridor crossing east/west between IAH and HOU (which are about as far apart as Manchester and Liverpool) but the top of that VFR corridor is a much more reasonable 2000 feet MSL (about 1900 AGL).

Andreas IOM

It seems to me that much UK airspace is predicated on the climb rate of a fully laden DC-3 with unreasonably low floors to certain bits of controlled airspace.

Actually, I believe they use performance data for a Vickers Vimy. On one engine.

I have harboured a notion to re-plan the low floor bits of Class A UK airspace, a lot of which I feel is unnecessary, based on what I perceive to be typical climb/descent profiles, just to see how different it would look.

EGTT, The London FIR

Any navigational/planning advice for crossing this minefield of zones? I’m thinking of crossing (as the crow flies) SE > NW towards Campletown…

North Weald, United Kingdom

Although there’s no ideal route for you, it’s not nearly as complicated as it might appear. You have five choices.

  1. Go up the eastern side avoiding Manchester via POL. You will have to dodge between the high ground of the Pennines and staying under the Manchester TMA, some of which is Class A. This is a definite no-go if there is cloud or poor visibility.
  2. Transit the Manchester control zone – I think you are very unlikely to get permission, but you could certainly ask.
  3. Go barnstorming up the Manchester low-level corridor (a VFR lane between the Liverpool and Manchester control zones. Max 1300 feet). You do not need any clearance, but make absolutely sure you get the Manchester QNH. Instructions here – but ignore references to 1250 feet, it’s very out of date and should say 1300 feet.
  4. Ask Liverpool for a zone transit. South-North transits are often routed overhead the airport. You might also get a transit through the eastern side of the Liverpool zone if they are operating on Runway 09. Oulton Park (WHI) to Seaforth might be a good route to ask for.
  5. Go up the western side, avoiding Liverpool. You can get a radar service from Hawarden.

I would suggest that 4 or 5 are the most reliable and least hassle options. Although the low-level corridor is fun, in my view it is risky – there are airfields with no ATZ inside the corridor.

EGTT, The London FIR

I did the Manchester/Liverpoor low level (1300ft QNH) transit twice in 2017 and it is rather unpleasant. You get a lot of traffic there, all at 1300ft and half of it, in accordance with the usual UK “civil liberties” practice, nontransponding…. On a hot day it is also turbulent because you are flying so low.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Depending on wind and weather, I usually go by Finners’ route 1. (via POL), or a sixth route up the east coast via Brigg/Humberside. That way is class G to FL95 or better nearly all the way, and it’s only a few miles further.

Glenswinton, SW Scotland, United Kingdom
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