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UK flying summary

Hello fellow Brits!

I have been flying lots on mainland Europe and am flying over to the UK tomorrow until Thursday. Could someone give me some tips as to the basic service and other services available as well as if I now need to file a flightplan or not once in the UK?

I will be flying into Shoreham on an IFR flightplan. On their website it says PPR for visiting aircraft. I called the tower and they said nothing is needed, just to file a flightplan.

Now in the Netherlands I have to file a flightplan when flying to or from a controlled airport. In France that is not needed. How is it in the UK?

I am sure I can find this information in the AIP and maybe elsewhere. Would be great if I could receive some last minute tips.


EDLE, Netherlands

I would check the AIP or Jepp for PPR on all airfields. Flight plan is not needed within UK, not even for IFR (if you stay outside controlled airspace). You check on the map the closest LARS (Lower Airspace Radar Service) and go with them. I request traffic service and if you say you are IFR, the chances are high that you get it. Basic service is not much use, CAT (Squeeze jet) always demands deconfliction service when they fly into Southend.

EGBE - Coventry, United Kingdom

@AeroPlus: you probably know some German so I can recommend this excellent site: done by boscomantico. It contains everything you might want to know.

As Mrdoerr does, no flight plans are required for flights inside the UK. You do need them of course for your entry into and exit from the UK flights.

By the way, don't get confused by reading their AIP. In it it states that flight plans are required. However it goes on to say that an "abbreviated" flight plan is all that is required, and they deem radio contact to be an abbreviated flight plan! You do NOT need to file a flight plan for a domestic UK flight.

Regarding PPR, pretty much everywhere in the UK requires it. But as you've found out when you ring up you generally find out little and they are happy for you to come. But low and behold if you don't call first!

Radio service, well you basically have two main options.

1) Basic Service. This provides an alerting service, gives you QNH and will tell you about pop up restricted areas if one happens. It can also give you information on request, such as airport weather or activity status of danger areas. No traffic info is supposed to be provided (and none may be available because the unit may not have a radar screen in front of them). However occasionally they will provide some traffic info, even though they aren't supposed to.

You can change altitude and heading as you wish without having to advise ATC.

2) Traffic Service Here you get everything of the basic service, plus radar detailed traffic information. You are not deconflicted from the are just told about them and it's up to you do choose your actions.

There is no restriction on you changing your altitude, but you must let ATC know if you are changing it so that they can build it into their mental picture.

Other things that might be useful to know.

They are very specific about how they hand you over from one frequency to the next. If they say "Contact xxx on" then it means that all your details have been passed in advance by the controller.

If they say "Freecall xxx on" then they have not passed on your details.

They also have a phrase "Pass your message" which they use on initial contact. It has a very specific reply sequence:

Aircraft type Departre point Destination point Current postion/altitude Next turning point and estimate for that Any other details as the situation requires (eg requesting transit of airspace or request for weather).

The request for the service (traffic or basic) is done on your initial call when when you just give your call sign.

I wouldn't worry too much about this...most UK pilots get it wrong anyway ;)

Not too relevant on this trip, as I understand that Shoreham has ATC. But if you land at some place that doesn't have ATC, then don't be too upset when nobody will close your flight plan from the Netherlands. They don't close flight plans in the UK and there is no follow up unless some 'responsible person' thinks it's necessary.

Oh....they do a lot of grumbling on pilot forums, but when you meet them in person, I've found Brittish pilots to be, without exception, extremely friendly. Enjoy your trip!


EIKH Kilrush

Just give Shoreham a call before you fly there.

+44 1273 467377

Takes under 30 seconds.

A great airport with great ATC. Gets a bit busy at times though, in nice wx, but weekdays tend to be OK.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

So do I understand it right that if I would want to be able to climb into controlled airspace, I would have to file up front an IFR flightplan? Or can I just depart without filing a flightplan and request to climb into CAS something like an IFR join?

On the one hand, it seems walhalla to me that you don't have to file anything. On the other hand, if I file IFR on mainland Europe I can expect something in return and in most cases this eases my flight.

Peter: I gave Shoreham a call already and I am more than welcome. I will give them another call just before departure from R'dam. Should be in Brighton at approx. 7 pm.

EDLE, Netherlands

For CAS you need a flight plan. See it as 2 coexisting worlds. London Control is happy to drop you, but there is no way from a LARS service up into CAS. Pop up clearances are rare. Ask Peter he tried that.

EGBE - Coventry, United Kingdom

So, will London Control drop me if I file IFR and fly below CAS? What is the approximate CAS altitude at which CAS starts? Strange situation and unfamiliar to me.

EDLE, Netherlands

This could be a long explanation

London Control handle only

  • IFR flights, and
  • only those which were filed via a formal Eurocontrol flight plan (I Z or Y), and
  • only those which London Control "deem to be worthy of their attention"

The first two are obvious, and also mean that it is (in most of the UK) virtually impossible to get a US-style popup clearance into Class A.

Class D is usually easy but there are only little bits of Class D and you don't need a flight plan for those; you just call up on the radio for a transit (actually you are filing an airborne flight plan there but you don't call it that).

As to #3, to get service from LC you need to file something which is obviously and decisively in "their" CAS which is basically Class A. (Most Class D is controlled by airport ATC units, not by LC).

The lowest that works is going to be something like FL070 where the CAS base is FL060, for example. That sort of thing is hardly useful but is used during IR training and tests, where they want you to show you can talk to LC... so you climb up, talk to them for 5-10 mins, and go back down.

This trip report shows how it works in a more decisive way.

For flights within the UK, just stay in the extensive Class G area, with Class D transits if you really want one, and don't bother filing a flight plan.

Obviously you need a flight plan to cross a national frontier e.g. UK-France.

will London Control drop me if I file IFR and fly below CAS?

They will throw away the flight plan immediately so when you take off and try to call them up they won't have it. In fact the unit which gives you the IFR clearance will not hand you over to LC; you will get some local squawk from them and the next frequency will be some airport radar controller (or a LARS unit). To a "foreigner" it won't be obvious this has happened; in fact he may not even realise the IFR clearance is bogus. He is on a VFR flight and has to remain OCAS.

What is the approximate CAS altitude at which CAS starts?

It varies. You need to consult the VFR chart.

If you want to fly "proper IFR" within the UK, or to/from the UK and abroad, you need to be filing for something like FL100 plus. I know somebody here will dig out an exception (e.g. the Class A between Jersey and Bournemouth/Southampton whose base is 3500ft, which was put in for the clapped out Islander flights) but that is the general idea.

I will be around tomorrow after work.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

If you change your mind and go VFR there us a good summary of AIP UK

The last time I looked at this material it was about half size and a really good summary of UK AIP for VFR and GA pilots....or I might remember wrong

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