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Joining IFR out of Sabadell (LELL)

Today was my second time to fly out of Sabadell on a Z flight plan (to join IFR). My impression is that Spanish ATC is not really used to people doing that. They seem to be a bit surprised on the radio.

Last time Sabadell tower sent me into the hold at SLL to pick up my IFR clearance from Barcelona. That worked well and they did me towards KANIG as per the flight plan. KANIG sits on the border of their FIR with France.

Today my plan was LELL N0160F060 PL/N0170F120 IFR DCT PPG A27 MOU …

PL is within the French FIR and next to Perpignan. Sabadell Tower didn’t know what to do and when I offered to pick up my clearance in the hold at SLL Barcelona was equally confused. First Sabadell told me to hold at 3000’, then Barcelona sent me up to 6000’ in the hold while asking where I would like to leave the FIR. Good question :-) I never thought about leaving any FIR while on an IFR flight plan. But then when I write this I realize I was not yet IFR … So in that context I was probably completely unknown and due to the first IFR waypoint being over in the French FIR Spanish ATC probably did not have my plan at all.

Next instruction was “climb FL120” while I was still in the hold.

Barcelona then offered DIBER as exit point. That is somewhere out at sea :-(

I accepted and was hoping that while on the way there will be a chance to negotiate further and probably be switched to the French early. That was what happened and we eventually got sent to MEN and were able to turn inland again.

Now I’m wondering how I can be smarter about this. I will fly out of Sabadell frequently soon and my expectations from Germany cannot be met easily there. I will also try to find someone local to talk to but that has to wait until I’m back.

Another sign that my plan wasn’t there was that the French didn’t have it either. I was asked “are you VFR or IFR” after I got sent to MEN. The squawk also did change three times.

Any thoughts?

Last Edited by Stephan_Schwab at 26 Aug 20:26
Frequent travels around Europe

If you intened to pick up the IFR clearance at SLL, then why didn’t you file so??

It is indeed a tad unfortunate to file Z and have the point for the flight rule change in a different country/ FIR. That way, for the Spanish, yours was like a VFR flight plan. That’s why they didn’t know about your plas to change to VFR, I would say.

If you want to pick up IFR “ASAP” after departure, then always choose your flightplanned pick up point as close to the departure airport as possible.

Last Edited by boscomantico at 26 Aug 20:48
Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

On the first flight my expectation was that ATC will behave as I’m used to from Germany. You depart VFR into the general direction of the first waypoint and the pickup happens along the way. I was surprised by being sent into the hold over SLL but there wasn’t any reason to reject that. It’s just a different way I thought.

Now I’m just trying to create a plan that uses SLL explicitly but it doesn’t work because they seem to have coded a DCT limit of 0. And that is probably the reason why autorouter only a finds a point in the French FIR.

Obviously I’m now worried a bit as the weather in that area is not always blue sky and the nearest IFR airport available to GA is far away.

Frequent travels around Europe

On the first flight my expectation was that ATC will behave as I’m used to from Germany

That expectation wouldn’t even cross my mind…

Now I’m just trying to create a plan that uses SLL explicitly but it doesn’t work because they seem to have coded a DCT limit of 0.

That could well be true, but still, I would never file a flightplan as you did and expect a smooth IFR pick up.

I don’t know if autorouter “detects” such things (IFR pick up point in different FIR) as “problems”. I think it doesn’t and instead leaves a certain distance margin for the pickup which, in this case, is already too much.

Last Edited by boscomantico at 26 Aug 21:17
Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

Hi Stephan, I’ve flown IFR from Sabadell earlier this year. It was a VFR departure where I had to hold over the airfield and climb to 3000ft.
In the climb I was handed over to Barcelona Radar who opened IFR and gave me further instructions.
All pretty standard. If I remember correctly I got the IFR clearance from Sabadell tower.

The issue must be that your IFR join point was in another country.

On the second flight I identity that as the issue as well. However it seems to be impossible now to find a point within the Barcelona area. I will try more tomorrow to find out.

Frequent travels around Europe

I’ve tried Autorouter and it finds routes with ifr pickup over LATRO, which seems fine.

FWIW, I went to Sabadell in 2012.

ATC was somewhat disorganised but Spanish ATC is well known for that.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

ATC was somewhat disorganised but Spanish ATC is well known for that.

I wouldn’t say so based on my (limited) experience.

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

Stephan_Schwab wrote:

On the first flight my expectation was that ATC will behave as I’m used to from Germany. You depart VFR into the general direction of the first waypoint and the pickup happens along the way.

Actually the same problem exists in Germany. If your IFR pickup point is in another sector (not even FIR), then ATC near your departure aerodrome will not have your flight plan and don’t know anything about it. Obviously German ATC are used to Z and they know how to use a telephone and what customer service means so they will sort it out for you. Still, even in Germany you have to be smart about it. I am located right at the border of the Langen and the Munich FIR and I have to be careful with how I select my pickup points. If my pickup is in EDMM and I call my usual Stuttgart Radar 125.05, they will not know anything about me and would have to pick up the telephone.

boscomantico wrote:

I don’t know if autorouter “detects” such things (IFR pick up point in different FIR) as “problems”. I think it doesn’t and instead leaves a certain distance margin for the pickup which, in this case, is already too much.

You are right, FIR/sector boundaries are not taken into account but instead a search radius is defined and then optimized for the best route according to the criteria. You can however define your own pickup by just clicking on the little “Pickup” link next to the departure aerodrome and then enter a list of waypoints/navaids. If it’s an IFR airport, the STARs and connection points will be shown instead.

Stephan_Schwab wrote:

Obviously I’m now worried a bit as the weather in that area is not always blue sky and the nearest IFR airport available to GA is far away

With a bit more experience you will arrive at the point where being above the MSA is all you need to be happy, which flight rules when and where, VMC/IMC, that becomes less important. In many countries it is very difficult to join the IFR route system from a VFR airport because they do not allow DCTs and they have very unfavorable airway rules in the vicinity. Sometimes it’s even better to have a pickup in the wrong direction but close. One of the finer details of the infinite complexities of flying IFR in Europe

Last Edited by achimha at 27 Aug 05:46
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