Every year I plan and do a long VFR-trip abroad. Last year I flew to LFLC (Clermont-Ferrand). Trip report is here. This year I have planned a trip to Buttwil (LSZU) Switzerland. Weather permitting, I will be flying VFR to LSZU on Monday, august 14 and back to EHLE on Wednesday, august 16.
Some data to start with:
Due to the endurance legs of about 1,5 hrs flying time is what I plan for. Starting with Skyvector for rough route planning and fine tuning is in EasyVFR, the first stop will be at Dahlemer-Binz (EDKV). The second stop will be at Freiburg im Breisgau(EDTF). Then over the mountains to our destination, Buttwil (LSZU). As you can see in the screenshot below, all very straight legs.
Next week I will contact all the airports to announce our arrival, check availability of fuel, PPR’s and filling in the necessary customs form for Switzerland (available at the Buttwil website). And also checking the AIP’s and get the paper charts. Although in flight I use EasyVFR as my navigation tool, I like to have a paper chart as back-up.
So just like last year, I am looking for some advice (tips, suggestions) on this trip just to check that I’m not forgetting something and make the flight as comfortable as possible.
Questions I have:
Thank you in advance.
You should be cautious with Buttwil. The Katana (even 100hp) is an absolute dog in summer at MTOW. 2400 feet elevation easily becomes 4500 feet density alt in summer. Also, it has rained a tremendous amount there in the week before this one. Check runway state.
Of course, you do strictly need a flightplan for flying from Germany to Switzerland.
Crossing Strasbourg area is very easy with the help of FIS / ATC. Don’t worry about that.
Thanks @Boscomantico. I already had my doubts with the performance on Buttwil, but it is as close I could get to my final destination, Cham. So, now I have choosen Birrfeld (LSZF) as my final airport (with Zürich as alternate). A little more meters and hard runway. I have changed the route accordingly. See picture below.
Our first stop will still be Dahlemer-Binz and our second stop now will be Saarbrücken (EDDR). I found some threads on Zürich and Birrfeld and captured valuable information from that. Any thoughts about this trip set-up? Especially @Mooney_Driver on LSZH and @Vladimir on LSZF.
Flying across France is easy (as I you must know from last trip). Especially on weekdays/lunchtime/evenings when FIS is less busy.
Area R199 is in fact kind of an RMZ for reasons of gliding activity:
which seems strange because it looks like class D airspace !
Listening to Strasbourg ATIS seems smart in your case.
Birrfeld is pretty relaxed and you can do almost everything yourself. Check for customs and parking position in advance (I think customs is PPR). If you don’t have the Swiss AIP and charts, check the website or PM me.
Zurich is in my point of view also very easy but as an external aircraft you would need a slot, handling and maybe parking in advance. As you plan it as alternate however, I don’t think you need much more than checking the NOTAMs.
When flying to Birrfeld beware of the Zurich TMAs, the structure is a bit complex and it is important to know your max altitude below them at each point (it changes all the time).
But, do I need to do that also for the last leg from Germany into Switzerland?
Why not? You’ll get SAR. It does not cost you anything.
Wrt whether you are obligated to do so, read the German AIP. Germany has agreements with some of the neighbouring countries waiving the requirement for a flight plan to cross the borders.
Thanks Peter, Aviathor, Vladimir and JujuPilote!
Filing a flight plan is no problem, so I will do that also for border crossing Germany – Switserland. Customs is indeed PPR at Birrfeld; filing a customs forms through their website and calling by phone 2 hours before ETA. Even for departure the same applies. Good point checking for parking positions in advance. I will contact them. I have the Swiss AIP and charts and I will watch the latest information on the Zurich TMA’s, although it looks to me that Birrfeld is just outside these in class E (Jura/Mittelland), isn’t it? Oh, I see what you mean; if I have to divert to Zurich.
You’ll be coming in to Birrfeld from the north-northwest via sector W or N. Both of them have min altitude 4000ft and are below TMA Zurich with lower limit of 5500ft. You have a corridor of 1500ft but if you are high at the end of the leg, you might bust it. Also sector W is usually the preferred one for most pilots but actually N is easier to follow (river) and less used (note that Birrfeld is one of the if not the busiest GA airport in Switzerland, so pay special attention to traffic in the circuit). So if you decide to go via sector N, be careful not to bust the TMA east of it with lower limit of just 3000ft.
By the way, note that all arrivals are via the entry circle at 2500ft. It is absolutely no problem to descend from 4000ft in the sector to 2500ft for the entry circle overhead and then to 2000ft circuit altitude in your DA20 (a bit trickier in the V252 I fly there which is faster).
If you have to divert to Zurich, you will have to follow the VFR routes, most probably route W. It looks a bit like this:
As you can see, you again have to stay below TMA Zurich (4500ft) until you reach point W.
There is absolutely no problem with flying these routes and this information is just to give you a good preparation for the flight.