Menu Sign In Contact FAQ
Banner
Welcome to our forums

How far can you get in Europe without Mode S, and can ATC see the Mode S data?

I fly a club aircraft with Mode C (other club aircraft have already been upgraded to Mode S)

This Eurocontrol statement mandates Mode S for all aircraft at all times. It's clear that any new aircraft, or equipment upgrades, will need to be Mode S from now on.

Fortunately, the UK CAA clarifies the position for VFR in this Mode S Factsheet and the LAA further simplified the story here, so that pretty much anything below 10,000 feet and outside Class A/B/C should be OK. It just indicates that getting Class D transits might become more difficult, although I haven't experienced any problems myself.

Both the factsheet and webpage refers to an exemption up to March 2012, so I am unclear ifthis is this valid.

And although it doesn't say so, I'd infer that flying IMC in Class G with only Mode C is also OK.

What I'd like to understand better is what the restrictions might be for VFR flight outside the UK, particularly in Western Europe. Are there specific non-Mode S areas (eg Holland, Belgium, France) which become inaccessible/awkward with only Mode C today or can I expect everywhere to be as easy to route through (or better) than the UK.

EGBJ, United Kingdom

Almost all of the Netherlands is TMZ from 1200' up, and theoretically that means you need a mode S. Belgium has some class G up to 4500' though it is cluttered with CTR's and TMA's especially on weekdays when the military may be active.

But you will not find a "non mode-S" area. The one thing you MIGHT find is a controller allowing you in "her/his" airspace with a class C only.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Everywhere in Germany where transponders are non mandatory, that is outside of airspaces C/D and TMZ (transponder mandatory zones, around some medium sized airports without airspace C/D) and below 3500AGL/5000ft MSL.

For one-off flights, you can always ask for permission. I once performed an IFR flight in Germany without transponder (it was broken) and I got permission from ATC via radio, it was not a problem at all. I guess a Mode C is even less of a problem than no transponder at all.

I don't know where you see the 'for all aircraft at all times'. The only reference I find to VFR flight is this

Please note that in some States, Mode S Elementary Surveillance is also mandatory for aircraft conducting flights as VFR.

I remembered some issue with mode S returns swamping radar screens in Holland in 2009 when the mandatory use for VFR came in....

The closest I could find on the issue was this:

"....VFR traffic under the Schiphol TMA had been instructed to switch off transponders because of constant TCAS alerts, but recently the Dutch government decreed that all traffic above 800 feet should switch on Mode S everywhere.

On the first sunny weekend following the decree Schiphol was swamped with a blizzard of Mode-S returns. ATC tuned the text size down to the minimum but still couldn't see approaching CAT clearly. All VFR traffic was banned from a huge swathe of airspace around Schiphol as a result. Ary Stiger of AOPA-Netherlands is meeting the Dutch CAA and Schiphol ATC on Tuesday to start sorting out the mess.

AOPA has been warning for years that busy airspace would not bear the weight of Mode S, and controllers have said they would be forced to tune out Mode-S returns because of clutter (thus incidentally rendering the whole exercise futile for GA). For some reason Schiphol wasn't able to tune out Mode S when it happened, we don't know why yet.

The Schiphol issue was discussed today at the IAOPA-Europe regional meeting in Friedrichshafen. The UK CAA is aware of it, and has been preparing the ground for a couple of weeks for a change of heart on Mode-S; it is unlikely it will be adopted universally in the UK...."

I don't know what the outcome of this was...

EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom

The outcome was tht for acouple of years you had to switch off your transponder above 1200 feet in a zone around Amsterdam.

In the mean time they installed filters and now it is mandatory to have your transponder on again.

I heard somewhere that mode S is no longer obligatory in Holland, but wether this is true and if so why. I do not know as I am mode s anyway.

I don't know where you see the 'for all aircraft at all times'.

The opening sentence at the top of the Eurocontrol page I linked to above seemed very broad brush to me. True, it might have helpfully qualified "airspace" with "controlled" or other clarification, because it otherwise can be interpreted as meaning "all".

Note: Mode S mandates apply to airspace and all those aircraft that operate within it regardless of state of registration and whether the aircraft are civil or state registered.

Jan - Since I think you are based in Netherlands (or close by), I appreciate hearing your views from local knowledge.

achimba - So if I wanted to land at a German airport with Class D around it... technically, should I phone ahead and get permission first? But it sounds like they wouldn't turn me away if I happened to arrive from the UK directly on VFR flight plan.

Just don't want to find some unexpected hassle/diversion etc. on a longer trip like that.

EGBJ, United Kingdom

achimba - So if I wanted to land at a German airport with Class D around it... technically, should I phone ahead and get permission first? But it sounds like they wouldn't turn me away if I happened to arrive from the UK directly on VFR flight plan.

Either is fine, if you really need to land there and a "request denied" would be a major pain, I'd phone ahead. I don't think you should try to enter via the class D but directly via the control zone. The class D would be owned by sector ATC while the CTR is owned by the airport tower who are more flexible and know exactly what is going on.

I once flew a Piper Arrow III Turbo back from Oostende to Lelystad with a failed alternator, so had no transponder, no radio, nothing except a working engine. At Oostende I asked for permission to depart without radio and transponder as well as at Lelystad (radio equipped aircraft only). In between I stayed below 1200 feet. Below 1200 feet there is no transponder requirement and in G-airspace there is no need to call Dutchmil or anybody else on the radio.

EHRD, Netherlands

Jan - Since I think you are based in Netherlands (or close by), I appreciate hearing your views from local knowledge.

Actually I'm in Belgium, not very far away indeed - but I have nothing to add to Aeroplus' story. Know the rules, and plan accordingly. Make it clear you know the rules, and planned accordingly, and you'll generally get correct and helpful assistance. Likely enough you'll even be granted an exception, so as to fly even more safe and relaxed and comfortable than you could legally demand, if and when possible.

If you require an exception, within reason, and have a good story, then ask politely, but don't count on anything - but you do stand a very fair chance.

There exists a tendency to believe everything must be ruled and controlled and regulated, and some private pilots seem to suffer from it heavily. In real life, the rules that be must be respected, as strictly as possible - but there's an amazing lot of things that are't regulated at all.

(PS if you look carefully you can actually SEE where I am located)

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium
112 Posts
Sign in to add your message

Back to Top