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Old 19th Jun 2012, 15:01   #1 (permalink)


Probationary PPRuNer
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Ireland
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Crossing FIR Boundary

As a new PPL I am looking forward to the challenge of international flying in Europe. I have a couple of questions though with regards to crossing FIR boundaries.

I know that I have to include the EET for the FIR crossing in my flight plan and I know that I have to make a radio call prior to crossing the boundary. My questions are as follows;

1. If I arrive at the FIR boundary before or after my EET, do I need to do anything or notify anyone or is the fact that this is an "estimated" time enough to cover the fact that it may not be entirely accurate?

2. If I am flying in uncontrolled airspace at the time I cross the the FIR boundary, how do I know who I should contact? I have read on some other posts that if in uncontrolled airspace it may not be necessary to contact anyone but I would assume it is better to do so anyway. Should it just be the nearest ATC?

3. Can someone please provide an example of what the R/T exchange might be like for an FIR crossing. I have found loads of references to the fact that I must notify when crossing the FIR but I can't find any example of what I should state in the call.

Thanks for the help
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 16:01   #2 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
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Hi FlyDirect

In direct answer to your questions here are my suggestions...

1. The EET at the FIR boundary is enough. A VFR flight plan is more or less a formality, as long as you are not hours outside of the ETA at the edge of FIR there won't be too many problems. And besides once the flight plan is activated the EET is calculated from the departure aerodrome airborne time. The actual time you get to the FIR boundary wont be too far from the EET.

2. I'd keep the ATC agencies simple. On the UK charts there are the London/Scottish FIS frequencies and the same thing exists on charts of foreign areas too. Its a good place to begin, however bare in mind that you may be flying directly into CAS and will need to speak to the controlling authority of that airspace. Some guidance on our neighbours (France, Belguim and the like) is in the Pooleys flight guide I believe. This also ties in with question 3.

3. Getting to the FIR boundary is done in the usual way. In my experience (which is limited in all honesty) whoever you are speaking to outbound, Manston for example, will ask you to report at a specfic place; Manston may use 'report mid channel'. When you do report mid channel they usually provide you with a frequency to change to. Although be prepared for them not to and tell you to 'change enroute'. A channel crossing into France from the south east will usually involve speaking to Lille Information, can't remember the freq off hand. Also consider that where the UK uses a Basic Service, European ATC will use Flight Information Service - for all intents and purposes its the same thing, just worded differently - again I believe there's guidance in the Pooleys guide, and on the AIS website in the AIP.

There are people here that are seasoned pros at this type of trip who can advise you better, but I hope this helps as a starter.

GW
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 16:06   #3 (permalink)
 
Join Date: May 2001
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If your coming across to the UK from Ireland don't worry about it.

Just contact who ever you get handed over to or Scottish or London info and it will be painless even if you have completely screwed up you ETA at the FIR boundary.

If you give us a example route people will be able to give you better examples.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 16:08   #4 (permalink)
 
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The flight plan only serves one purpose: to coordinate search and rescue in case you go missing. Knowing when you will cross which border helps coordinating the search mission.

You don't need to talk to anyone on the radio nor announce your intentions, unless you're entering airspace requiring permission.

I had one situation where things went wrong. I was flying from Krakow, Poland to my fuel stop Vilshofen, Germany (very south east) and filed a direct route through the Czech Republic. The weather was terrible and the mountains between the Czech Republic and Germany were obscured so I diverted south and followed the Danube valley through Austria and eventually Germany. My original flight plan did not touch the Austrian FIR so it was not forwarded to Austria. I was on FIS all the time but when I finally arrived in German air space, there was joy all around! From the AIS point of view, I disappeared when I changed course to Austria and they had already initiated the uncertainty phase and started calling places. Not sure I could have done anything to prevent this as I never intended flying through Austria but I learned a bit how AIS works.

Last edited by achimha; 19th Jun 2012 at 16:10.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 16:32   #5 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
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Is that a Schengen thing?

Flying between Germany and Austria or Germany and Denmark neither of this is required (that's all European border crossing I can come up with so far, to be changed this summer )

cheers
maehhh
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 16:40   #6 (permalink)
 
Join Date: May 2001
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In theory the poster is correct and outside europe thats the way it is done.

With euro control and all the other good things we have it makes life very much simplier for the pilot for a ATC point of view.

As the other poster says things arn;t really geared up the same way for VFR as they are for IFR traffic so sometimes you can be "lost" in the middle and have to freecall wing it.

And most things are sorted if you change on route by asking the first service that you speak to away from your flight planned route to give your arrival airfield a ring if its controlled and tell them whats happening.

If you are going farm strip to farm strip it gets a bit more complicated.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 16:44   #7 (permalink)
 
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From Ireland to UK (and vice versa) you are often given an "In event of lost comms, contact...[unit/frequency] before you even coast out, so you know what's coming mid channel.

If it all goes wrong, just go back to the unit that you were with in the first place and tell them you couldn't establish comms.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 17:08   #8 (permalink)
 
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Interestingly, according to the French AIP, L2K should only be contacted after Lille FIS, and failing that preferably LFAC or LFQQ. That does not always happen

Quote:
RADIO CONTACT
Entry into French Airspace
...
The unit to be contacted
The radio contact must be established first with the flight information
centre (FIC) or flight information sector (FIS) concerned.
If it is impossible to establish radio contact with the FIC or the FIS
concerned when crossing the border, the pilot must contact preferably
the air traffic control units set up on the aerodromes, which are listed
below, in order to transmit them the «border crossed» message.
Border aerodromes concerned:
AJACCIO NAPOLEON BONAPARTE LFKJ
BALE MULHOUSE LFSB
BASTIA PORETTA LFKB
BIARRITZ-BAYONNE ANGLET LFBZ
CALAIS DUNKERQUE LFAC
CHAMBERY AIX-LES-BAINS LFLB
LILLE LESQUIN LFQQ
NICE COTE D’AZUR LFMN
PERPIGNAN RIVESALTES LFMP
STRASBOURG ENTZHEIM LFST
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 17:10   #9 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Mode-S is mandatory in the Netherlands (above 1200') and it doesn't just bring cost, but also (a few) benefits.

A year or so ago we had a presentation from Dutch Mil (the FIS provider in most of the Netherlands, including all land borders) and they simply told us not to contact them, unless we needed specific information from them. There's no need to report a border crossing as they simply correlate your flightplan with your transponder readout. Just monitor the frequency - the regional QNH will be broadcast every now and then anyway.

But anyway, if you want to talk to somebody, don't use "the nearest ATC", as they've got their own bit of airspace to control, but talk to the FIS provider for the airspace you're in. That's either written on the map, or can be gotten from the AIP.

And don't worry about getting it wrong. If they don't want to talk to you, they will let you know, and will usually also let you know the correct frequency to call.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 17:16   #10 (permalink)
 
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There is always an INFORMATION frequency for the FIR (or a FIR sector), and them's the one you activate your flight plan with when in uncontrolled airspace; then just keep in touch with them and get eventually handed over. When you arrive at the FIR boundary (whether on time or not), you will usually have already been asked by the ATC to report passing a certain point, or, just as frequently, the ATC will call you as you are leaving their area and hand you over to the next FIR.

For example, if you have been asked to report DIK, just report it:
"BRUSSELS INFORMATION, EI-EIO overhead DIK".
ATC will tell you what to do next:
"EI_EIO Contact LANGEN INFORMATION at 123.525".

If you haven't been asked anything and haven't been called by the ATC when approaching the FIR boundary, you may want to say:
"BRUSSELS INFORMATION, EI-EIO overhead DIK, request frequency change to LANGEN", assuming you've done your homework and know what FIR you are flying into. The ATC will usually automatically give you the frequency.

You read it back, switch to the right frequency, and say:
"LANGEN INFORMATION, EI-EIO"
"EI-EIO, go ahead"
"EI-EIO PA34 en route from EIWF to EDKB, overhead DIK, altitude 1500 on QNH 1017"
"EI-EIO radar contact, squawk 3704"
"Squawk 3704 EI-EIO"

That's it.
And for chrissake, don't forget to close your flight plan once landed, or cancel it shortly before landing:
"LANGEN INFORMATION, EI-EIO destination in sight, request frequency change to EDKB and cancelling my flight plan"
"EI-EIO frequency change approved, your flight plan is cancelled at 1545. For your information, local QNH is 1016"
(or "your flight plan is cancelled at 1545, contact HANGELAR INFO 135.150")

Last edited by Ultranomad; 19th Jun 2012 at 18:12.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 18:04   #11 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Quote:
request frequency change to LANGEN
One of my pet peeves. When talking to an info frequency you don't ask for permission to change frequency. You tell them. "Changing frequency to Langen."
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 18:06   #12 (permalink)
 
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He's from Ireland. He'll be well used to closing flight plans
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 18:37   #13 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
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Quote:
One of my pet peeves. When talking to an info frequency you don't ask for permission to change frequency. You tell them. "Changing frequency to Langen."
Correct, but often they won't bother telling you the frequency unless you ask so this is not completely wrong.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 19:21   #14 (permalink)
 
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Meseemeth the distinction between controlled v s. non-controlled airspace is important here. As I am basically disallowed entry to controlled airspace, I can only speak about non-controlled. Imagining myself on re-entry from France into my dear own Belgium, 't might well go like

Brussels information from the oscar-oscar-and-so-on

Oscar Oscar and-so-on, Brussels Information

The oscar-oscar-and-so-on, VFR from lima-fox-whatever-whatever to echo-bravo-whatever-whatever, altitude four thousand to a QNH of one zero one seven, squawking seven thousand charlie, inbound echo bravo whatever whatever eight minutes

oscar oscar and so on, regional qnh is one zero one niner, no traffic reported at your altitude

or if they have the time and the interest, preceded by

oscar oscar and so on, squawk seven thousand ident

After which formalities I could request weather, activity status of military a/d's and danger/prohibited zones and what not.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 19:21   #15 (permalink)


Probationary PPRuNer
 
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Thanks all for the replies so far. I really appreciate the help.

So if I can summarise my understanding;

1. If I am over or under on the EET time for the FIR boundary crossing specified on my VFR flight plan, this is not the end of the world. I realise that it is not likely to be out by too much in reality but I was mostly thinking of the situation where an unexpected head/tail wind threw out the calculation from my PLOG.

2. If I am in uncontrolled airspace when I cross the FIR boundary, then I should contact the FIS provider for that airspace initially. Of course I would check the AIP for any rules regarding this but in the absence of anything specifically stated, this would be my best course of action.

If I am in controlled airspace at the time of the crossing then it is likely I will be handed over to the next frequency by whoever I am talking to at the time. If I am not handed over by the time I reach the boundary then I can initiate this myself by requesting/notifying a frequency change. I will of course have done my homework and know who and what frequencies to expect in advance.

3. Regarding the actual calls, if I am in controlled airspace during the crossing then follow the format in the example from Ultranomad. If I am in uncontrolled airspace during the crossing then I guess the call would be similar to that suggested except I assume I would not be assigned a squawk code in this case.

One last question...do you call when you cross the FIR or before you cross the FIR? I seem to recall reading somewhere that you should call 5 minutes before but I cannot seem to find where I read that now. Maybe it is country specific and I read it in one of the AIPs I was looking at but I really can't remember.

Regarding the requests for a specific route to provide more information, I don't really have one at this stage. I am still just considering the possibility of international flight (sounds cool just to write that) and haven't really sat down to work out where I might want to go yet.

And yes, don't worry, I am familiar with the need to close my flight plan - assuming I am not flying to an airport in CAS that will close it for me automatically.

Thanks again.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 19:32   #16 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Amsterdam
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Quote:
they won't bother telling you the frequency
They don't always know what you're going to do next, so they might not be able to.

Furthermore, I hope I'm not the only one creating a list (either mental or on paper) of all the frequencies/facilities I'm going to use during a flight. So when I'm leaving the info frequency because I'm going to enter into controlled airspace, or cross a FIS boundary/border, I already know what my next frequency is going to be. (In fact, I usually have it selected as the standby frequency by that time. But that's just me planning ahead.)

And if due to a change of plans I need to find a frequency, well, that's what the info frequency is for. If I can't find it quickly enough on the map, that is.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 19:40   #17 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
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Pooley's do a smashing wee chart that has very clear mapping on what services are available, from what stations in specific areas, FIR boundaries and LARS are show clearly. Have used it muchly in the past when moving around slowly down south
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 19:55   #18 (permalink)
 
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@Backpacker: agreed about your pet peeve. One hears many requests to leave Brussels Information, too. They seem to have found a sweet revenge in dryly answering "QSY approved", which generally leaves a deep silence from the over-correct pilot.

But have you any idea about R/T in non-controlled airspace? Imagine my poor little ultralight from Hoevenen EBHN to Midden-Zeeland EHMZ, it can be done outside controlled airspace and outside TMZ, I understand I should switch my transponder off and still call Dutch Mil when entering Amsterdam FIR?

Last edited by Jan Olieslagers; 19th Jun 2012 at 19:55.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 20:35   #19 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Quote:
But have you any idea about R/T in non-controlled airspace? Imagine my poor little ultralight from Hoevenen EBHN to Midden-Zeeland EHMZ, it can be done outside controlled airspace and outside TMZ, I understand I should switch my transponder off and still call Dutch Mil when entering Amsterdam FIR?
You've got a Mode-C transponder then? Not a Mode-S?

In that case, officially, you can't use it in Dutch airspace, and need to remain below 1200' with the transponder off. You then tell Dutch Mil you're entering, and when leaving the frequency for Midden-Zeeland.

Unofficially I know that the persons behind the radar scope will ask you to keep the transponder on, as it's better than nothing. But you've got to remain below 1200'.

EHMZ is a nice place to go to. The restaurant is quite nice, and the airport authorities now have a bunch of bicycles on-site for rent. Arnemuiden and various beaches are all within easy cycling distance of the field.
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