View Full Version : Greek airports

31st May 2004, 09:00
Not really a rumour or news but just felt that the state of Greek airports should be discussed since every time we go there we put our licences and therefore our livelihood on the line.

The amount of money that goes into Greece every summer must keep the economy going, unyet the greek islands are in my view the most dangerous places to fly into this side of Africa.

Non precision approaches everywhere - high ground - lack of good atc- and god forbid if something went wrong - speros walking out with his fire extinguisher trolley ! even the runway markings etc are if visible, non standard.

We know about the lack of investment for whatever reason (corruption etc) but can anything be done or are we going to wait untill something happens ?

any thoughts ?

Kalium Chloride
31st May 2004, 09:34
Must admit that I'm astonished that a long-time European Union member state has been able to get away with a Cat 2 rating from the FAA for years.

A and C
31st May 2004, 10:27
I like going to the Greek islands , I find that it is a place that I have the freedom to use my pilotage skills in a way that is now not posable in northern europe.

The fact that most of these Islands are mostly summer destinasions and the location of the airports makes putting in an ILS a non-starter from both an operational and financial standpoint.

I have very little doubt that the fire services only just meet the minimum requirement and the ATC is "lackluster" but only once in four years have they done anything to put me in danger and that was only after excessive requests for descent from another aircraft who seemed not to understand that the controller had no radar.

The fact is that the south of europe as far as flying is concerned is played by " bis boys rules" you have to fly the aircraft in a way to fit in with the enviroment and remember that your safety is almost entierly in your own hands.

" Visual approach please"

31st May 2004, 10:50
As someone working 'down the back' - do I need to know any further about this state of affairs.................mmmm maybe not!

31st May 2004, 11:24
I have been flying for 26 years in Greek airports, lately as a Flight Operations Inspector of Hellenic CAA. I am always on alert when I operate in and out of them , especially to-from the islands. I agree that are difficult places to be, and often dangerous weatherwise, requiring sometimes excellent airmanhip from the crews ! However, from my new post I see that a great effort, by HCAA, has been going on to minimise the existing problems. As far as the Cat 2 is concerned, the truth which is not known to many people, is that it was the result of political pressures against the Greek government by FAA concerning SAFETY of airports. But this SAFETY concern is translated in millions of $ in contracts with US and British companies for the "SAFETY" of Olympic Games 2004. We know very well that after deciding to organize the Games ( I belong to those who were against that considering the fact that Olympic Games cannot be started without the celebration in Ancient Olympia anyway ) we would have to pay the price. We cannot be fooled !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

31st May 2004, 11:30
mmmmm a and c !
big boys rules ? safety is my main concern, not out to prove my 'piloting skills' to anyone, don't wish to be put in the postion where i need to be a hero and i can't for the life of me see why with a bit of investment kos / zth / kfl etc can't have an ILS, it is a disgrace when you think that we are talking about a country in the middle of europe.
Where does all the money go ? maybe a few seasons of not going there would sort them out ?

A and C
31st May 2004, 11:55
Ask your self when was the last time that you had to do a "limits" approach into these airfields ?.

I very much doubt if an ILS would have much lower limits at ZTH or EFL because of the topography and I am not sure that a circle to land from an ILS would be much safer that a straight in from a VOR/DME.

As you say safety is paramount and part of the "big boys rules" is being able to know when it is time to divert , some times the hardest part of flying is telling the company that you have diverted and defending that action. I don't do hero ! and would not like to fly with some one who did but I do like to hand fly the aircraft when apropriate to keep in practice.

Part of me is becoming a little uneasy with the "stick and rudder" skills of the new pilots and there reliance on automation , this shows up well in the Greek islands and I think that the industry would do well to adress this BEFORE in becomes a problem.

31st May 2004, 12:02

"maybe a few seasons of not going there would sort them out ?"

And you and me both as well pal. try no flights equals no job.


Isnt that a red wine?

31st May 2004, 13:18
I think A and C is correct. At most of these places installation of an ILS wouldn't help a great deal if you were able to install one at all.

However investment is required in airports throughout Greece.
I'm going to CFU tonight and I remember it as a shoddy little black hole with a bloody great lump in RWY35 at just about the point we rotate. Decent runway surfaces and proper C/L and approach lighting are essential.

AS for the ATC I've not had a problem yet. Those guys work hard with limited equipment and they shift a lot of traffic. And you're less likely to get screwed over by them than you are by PMI ACC on a Saturday evening when the Air Nostrum fleet is i/b.

31st May 2004, 19:30
I know a lot of "pilots" in my company sharing the view of toon: one spectacular idea was when I told the Capt "tell them we are ready for a visual" he answered " we aren't paid well enough to make a visual"! Another sad story when I was flying a 737 with a guy who spent 10 years on a 747, about 10 track miles from touchdown at 3000' with 210 kts I asked for a visual for him, and instead of turning final manually he started to compose a magenta line , even a downwind leg on the FMC. If you think greek islands are tricky, try Indonesian islands ( and certain parts of Africa too) Just read the story about a 757 go-around somewhere in Scandinavia - all about manual "skills" - simply we all need that skills, at least once in a lifetime will be useful to have! Everyone who can fly a 1 or 2 miles vis. final they are not heroes, they are just doing the job from A to B, and being ready for anything in flight can happen!

Bally Heck
1st Jun 2004, 00:30
My 10p worth?

No-one wants to go to CFU at night. At night in bad weather?

How stupid do you have to be?

Good luck in the cabin JT, But you don't go there do you? We must meet somewhere else :-}

How about some radar and ILS's chaps?

On a different note.


1st Jun 2004, 05:04

re: greek airports

you seem worried about your licence and livelihood e.t.c, ever been to IRAN,NEPAL,ETHIOPIA,YEMEN, to name a few?

how about a new profession, then you dont have to worry so much!

1st Jun 2004, 07:29
I thought thats what you guys at the front got paid for Verified!!!!! To worry!
Any F/D that has a big enough ego not to worry - worries me!!

A and C
1st Jun 2004, 07:39
I find it hard to think that anyone with the skill level required to pilot a public transport would find CFU at night a problem when approaching from the south.

However at night the circle to land over the town is to say the least very demanding to a point at which I question the wisdom of doing it.

The weather is a factor in all flying activitys and can render even the safest airports unuseable so it is wise to load enough fuel to keep you options open and if you think that landing is unwise divert.

This leads me to another question . Is the real problem the consiquences that commanders feel would come from the management if they decide to divert ?. ( fortunatly I don't have this problem ).

1st Jun 2004, 08:41
CFU at night, eh?

Remember when none of the UK operators went to CFU at night when I was with Orion (happy days!). Orion decide to go in there at night and, guess what, within a very short period of time everyone else was doing the same!

If the old Hong Kong could have an offset ILS with DME at the threshold then I am sure CFU could do the same!

Was sitting on the ramp there early one morning after we had just scraped in off the RW 35 approach ( the usual bit of stratus in the bay!) watching the antics of everyone else cavorting around to get in.

A certain Greek carrier manages to get in off RW 17 after several a/c had gone around and diverted. "How did you do that?" a voice asks on the R/T - "Ah well, we fly the 347 radial off KRK to 15 DME down to 700 ft and then turn left base for RW 17!" My FO and I look at the chart and agree how sensible such a procedure might be but off course not permitted! Whether it would comply with all the ICAO Pan/Ops criteria is another matter but the point I am making is that surely they could come up with some better instrument approaches than they have at the moment.

That said I have to agree that the fun aspect of operating into the Greek airfields it is a great opportunity to do some basic flying and renew skills that are fast becoming almost obsolete - long as you dont wrap yourself around the hills whilst you are doing it!

1st Jun 2004, 08:58
Non precision approaches everywhere - high ground - lack of good atc- toon, et al, whilst waiting for the authorities to act, we can do something practical and at the same time gather evidence for the necessary safety changes.

Conduct a company or personal CFIT / ALAR safety audit. A good template can be downloaded from ”Risk reduction Guide” (http://www.flightsafety.org/pdf/alar_guide.pdf). Versions of this are also available in several languages here: CFIT (http://www.flightsafety.org/cfit2.html) and there is a spread sheet version of this (English/French) here: see ALAR (http://uk.geocities.com/[email protected]/alf5071h.htm)
Also see the crew checklist “ALAR risk awareness tool” (http://www.flightsafety.org/pdf/fsf_rat.pdf ).
Unless specifically authorized everything else is forbidden.

1st Jun 2004, 09:23
A and C, Verified,etc i agree in some aspects, visuals keep our skills up to speed and no, i have never yet been down to minimum's in greece although had to do a circling onto 17 at CFU the other night ! I know a few people that have in CFU and diverted. I have no problem what so ever diverting and the decision i make when I fly is mine and my management will back it, no explanation required.

The real point I was making is that the state of the runways etc would be unacceptable if it was any other country in europe but because it is greece and 'always been thus' thats ok !, Yes some money is being spent on aprons at ZAK to name but one, but the runways should be resufaced and approach lights installed (yes even at KOS) they managed it at old hong kong ?

Oh for the record i have done visuals into everywhere from south america to deepest africa.

1st Jun 2004, 10:56
I agree with the point that the cost of ILS and radar installations for the small islands may not be economically viable, but there should be more effort made to keep the installed equipment up to standard, such as calibrating VORs and ensuring PAPIs/VASIs indicate something along the lines of what is published (KFL was mentioned, and the PAPIs there are a prime example).

Farty Flaps
1st Jun 2004, 12:09
Agree with all points on 17 cfu but basically it all boils down to flying the proceedure to the best of your ability. Good airmanship is knowing your limitations having the cojones to act on them.

Practicing skills is not very appropiate with a full load.The skills should be there to what ever limitations you respect. The R in crm refers to resource. Autopilots that fly more acurately than me are a resource as are high minma that make me go around.
I love the greek islands but know the punters expect me to use all my resources to keep them safe, including humility.

The uk industry is regulated to avoid the phrase "you pays yer money you takes yer chances". When we operate to areas like greece that are remiss in their obligations to safety we are the last line of defence in that chain of regulation.

Greece is different , and stretches the term european to its thinnest meaning but life would be boring if we were all british.

2nd Jun 2004, 06:46
SKG - accident waiting to happen!

2nd Jun 2004, 09:53
CFU at night can be demanding !

Right now try LGSA ! now using the narrow parallel "emergency" rw, no papi / vasi, no app lights !

At night it's bad !

at night in bad weather, you lose ten years of your life !!!!!

2nd Jun 2004, 11:00
antisthenes ,
accident HAS already happened in SKG. The fact that it was not Swissair or Lufthansa involved does not make it less of a tragedy.
Christmas 1997 (not that long ago) Aerosweet Yak40 , 77 fatalities. Indeed pilot error (wrong radial followed after missed approach) BUT a more safe ATC structure could EASILY prevent it. One person during a busy evening was operating clearance delivery-ground-tower and approach/departures in non-radar. If the job was carried out by 2 people at least, the approach controller would have definetely realised that the a/c that went around has not reported over the missed approach holding fix for a long long while, istead they were lurching some 30 odd miles west of the airfield heading towards their death near mt. Olympus. It would probably take an a/c 4-5 min to reach missed app hold fix. The yak was quiet for about 15min, then was quiet for good.

As far as greek airfields infrastructure, see, in Greece are very good in building huge projects from scratch (i.e stadium canopies, the longest bridge in europe, airports, etc. etc.)
Tell them to put approach lights to kos or weedkill around the papis ..........you're in for a long long wait.
See, these things don't cost billions. Hence the commision to everybody involved is not even worth mentioning in a country where billionE fall from the sky for major projects the last 6-7 years.
I would not hold my breath for an improvement, since after the olympics and with the new EU countries getting all the money, well, greece is in for a very dry spell!:(

Captain Mercurius
3rd Jun 2004, 08:25

May I humbly propose that, WE ALL, start making Air Safety Reports to our Chief Safety Pilots, and to start a discussion if a list undersigned by HUNDREDS of pilots will call the attention of the people responsible for this matter?

Let us fly safely, and not lose years of age, in a single approach.

Here is a Golden chance to use this Forum for something positive, to bring more safety to our work.

I look forward for some comments (and already starting to dress my Kevlar vest)


3rd Jun 2004, 08:38
Hello everybody,
Good topic to follow untill today. I haven't see any discussion yet for the WIND as one of the most critical factor which in cooperation with a demanding terrain leads to many missed apps and more....
I see you guys come into Rhodos, Iraklion or Samos taking no any consideration of the prevaling wind.
Do not land to Rhodos when the wind is more than 15kts from the South or to Iraklion when the wind is more than 25kts fron the South. Please observe airports wind recommendations and take them as minimums, as my company does. Advice your company's Ops to create procedures for this very dangerous matter. Next time you come to Rhodos check the crashed A-300-600 fuselage at rwy's 07 thresold, the aircraft was trying to land with wind 150/30kts.

VERIFIED very good topic keep on going...

Happy landings to all and try to spend some time this summer on a Greek island is good for the mind...........

3rd Jun 2004, 08:42
Are you aware that circling approach procedures in Greece have been constructed acc. to TERPS, and because of that, you dont have the req. obstacle clearance when flying a circling acc. to PAN-OPS ?

TERPS gives you obstacle clearance within 1.7 nm (3.14 km). PAN-OPS CAT C MIN VIS is 2400 m ! You are barely within protected area !

My company have not decided yet what to do !

What do your company say ?

3rd Jun 2004, 21:59

there are airports in the european theater of operations with far more significant terrain and stronger winds than the greek airfiels, (canaries to name a few) yet again for some reason (!) it just feels a lot safer enviroment to operate (excellent radar coverage, precision approaches, very good lighting etc etc).
About what you mention regarding the wind and company procedures. 1)you cannot know what sort of procedures other airlines have and what sort of briefings they publish for particular airfields. Likewise I dont know about your company. The fact is there are briefings. 2) What you say about "limitations" I think is inaccurate. The greek airfields do not have "limitations" on wind, just a word of caution for certain wind dir/speed. Limitation whould be to close iraklion airport if the wind is 180/20 or more, for example, like they do in madeira. They do not accept landings if the wind exceeds the published limitation. So then what should we do? Divert because the wind in LGIR is southerly 25? On what grounds? A caution or extreme caution footnote on the approach plate? Dont think so. Has you company converted the "cautions" to limitations by the way?


what you mention about circling is a "catch". Applies to Israel and Greece. What we do is observe cat D minima for all circling regardless of a/c type, which means, the manuevering area is 2.3NM . Not a whole lot really!

4th Jun 2004, 08:18

I never said airport limitations, just recommendations or the word caution is even better as you mention on your topic.
Now from the experience an operator is able to decide a go or no go to those airports. Regardless of other companies procedures, trying to land to Rhodos with a wind of 30kts or more from the south it is not wise for airlines that operate in and out of Rhodos frequently.
My company because of the severity of the phenomenon taking under consideration the airports recomendations and pilots reports have decided to establish certain minimums concerning the wind over those airfields. Besides that, what happen to Madeira is the best for the safety of the industry.

Good day to all.

4th Jun 2004, 08:18
Fair point about the wind. This is another problem with these airports - they sometimes give erroneous wind reports. I recently flew into Rodos (at night) with the wind from the SE. Reported as 12 kt, the FMC was showing 30 for most of the app and 18 at touchdown, with 20 kt shears. Given the known problems at Rodos with Se winds over15 kt (published), it would be preferable for them to give a true report when it exceeds this limit.

4th Jun 2004, 10:08
Off course it's very nice to do a 10 miles final 3000ft, App mode captured, every time again and again and again with radar watching your ass. Sometimes we even disconnect the autopilot before landing

On al situations except for really bad weather these approach and landings are the ones that will brush up your skills. It will give a young co-pilot the chance to actually fly the aircraft without having to worry about the 160 to 4 miles.

So flying wise?! I would say, take the opportunity to have some fun an enjoy those approaches while you still can.

On the other hand... when it comes to bad weather I totally agree that an ILS should be available and especially on the Islands there is no excuse for not having one. During the whole summer there's so much traffic that the extra cost for installing one can easily be earned back and justified.

4th Jun 2004, 14:05
Well I do agree that the Greek airports are a little more demanding of your stick and rudder skills, but that is the fun isn't it?.
I am always looking forward to the summer and those nice flights to the Aegean islands.
If you have time to spare on those destinations it would be wise to climb the tower and have a chat with the ATCO, it will give you a different perspective on a lot of things and you might learn something.

So I can not wait to start flying again to CFU,ZTH,JSI,SKH,SMI,RHO,KGS,JKH,JMK,KIT,KLX,SKG,SKU,KFL,and KVA

And at the same time score a nice Frappe with Tyropita.......
Now Kalo taxidia,QTA

A and C
5th Jun 2004, 12:12
I am always practicing my skills with a full load of passengers , we all do it each day that we fly be that skill a Cat 3 landing or a visual approach.

These skills are very much a "use it or loose it " thing so regular practice is esental to keep sharp at all the skills required to fly safely.

Please don't confuse traininng with practice.

Farty Flaps
5th Jun 2004, 12:59
A and C,

Thanks for your guidance i'll try not to;)

5th Jun 2004, 14:53
Hmmm... Those of you familiar with the joys of Greek airports will know that Rhodes will be fun tonight:

METAR: LGRP 051420Z 13015G24KT 9999 FEW015 BKN080 24/16 Q1012 NOSIG
WS LDG RWY07 RWY25 13015G24KT RWY07 10009G19KT=

FC: LGRP 051200Z 051322 15018KT 9999 FEW015 SCT030 PROB30 TEMPO 1318 8000 RA SCT015 BKN030=

FT: TAF LGRP 051000Z 051812 15018KT 9999 FEW020 SCT030 BECMG 0002 VRB05KT =

And for the uninitiated, this is why:


The outcrop of high ground immediately to the S of the Runway causes difficult local wind effects. Winds from the S and SE of 10-15kts cause WINDSHEAR and turbulence. Winds from the S and SE of more than 15kts cause: wind direction and speed to vary along the Runway at a given time (horizontal windshear), wind direction and speed to continuously change at a given point on the Runway (turbulent windshear). Severe turbulence in the final approach, take off and initial climb areas Report windshear and turbulence to ATC.

:bored: :sad: :{ :zzz:

5th Jun 2004, 14:57
Quote from jaja “Are you aware that circling approach procedures in Greece have been constructed to TERPS, and because of that, you don’t have the req. obstacle clearance when flying a circling to PAN-OPS ?”

See these slides on Busan accident relating to the same issue; BUSAN CFIT (http://uk.geocities.com/[email protected]/alf5071h.htm)

Farty Flaps
5th Jun 2004, 16:59
a recent check of the nav bag showed with random selection that greek plates were annoted pansops 3. So where does this terps info originate.sounds a bit awf to me old chap

A and C
5th Jun 2004, 20:02
Why do I get go RHO tonight ?. Let's hope the VRB05KT is on time !!!!!.

5th Jun 2004, 20:16
Well perhaps de Fire category is sufficient on most islands, but what do we expect?
Most crash tenders are manned by a limited number of fire men. The crash tenders have the required ''nock-down'' capacity, but who is going to rescue you???
On a small island like Skiathos or so how many ambulances and hospital beds would you think are available???

Each airport has its recue and emergency plan, but they also do not have the facilities of a big city with a big airport.

So you would better be carefull out there.....

Greetz, QTA

5th Jun 2004, 21:13
Farty Flaps, have a look in AIP Greece/SAS RM/Jeppesen ATC

AIP Greece (RAC-4-1-6) and SAS RM (Rules and Regulations Greece, state that Greece use 1.7 NM radius for determination of obstacle clearance limit for circling approaches, whereas new PANS OPS uses 4.2 NM radius of turn.

6th Jun 2004, 16:57
The current setup, 30M wide runway & no PAPIS requires some attention to be paid on a nice sunny day. I'm really surprised that people are being sent there in the dark. If I was so rostered, I'd invite my Chief Pilot to come along and be PF!

Farty Flaps
6th Jun 2004, 18:55
Well the plates are annoted pansops 3. I dont have it to hand (pans 3 )for the dimensions but it does mean its not terps. Maybe the copy of the aip you refer to is out of date

7th Jun 2004, 07:32
But I do not need an ILS, in stead give me GPS approach-plates, L-NAV/V-NAV approaches work great!!:ok:


7th Jun 2004, 12:17
Farty Flap

Please the manuals ! It is not just something I make up !

This has been investigated by EAG (European Aeronautical Group), who make the SAS Route Manual (same as Jeppesen, almost)

The letdown is acc. to PANS-OPS , but the circling obstacle clearance is acc. to TERPS. So once again, you only have 1.7 NM obstacle clearance , and not 4.2 NM !

If flying a circling app. in greece at PANS-OPS minima, you might not have obstacle clearance !

7th Jun 2004, 21:38
Jaja is right. Check Jeps/Text/Air Traffic Control/Greece were you will find every country's differences from standards. It specifically shows how obstacle clearances are calculated in Greece.

Farty Flaps
7th Jun 2004, 23:19
The chart is annotated pans ops 3.
the index of jepps explains what this means, so it either is or it isnt.
if it isnt why have jepps annoted to suggest the criteria are pansops, if they are not.

There is no postscript at the bottom of the chart saying" PS except circling minima".the ref section will not fit under my plate clip so thats why the chart is annotated to indicate criteria .

Not judging just stating what i see.

over to you.

8th Jun 2004, 21:06
I absolutely see your point mate, but, this is not a perfect world!
The Jeps ATC section for each particular country is there for a purpose. Not just waste of space (hopefully!).
The authorities of each country are trying to reach the highest flight safety level for their airports, for obvious and not so obvious reasons. My guess is that the pansops3 for that particular country refers to the straight in minima and it looks good to they eye of the visiting pilot as well! Makes you feel you are not in a Siberian airfield (no offence).
They cover their a….s by making that entry in the Jeps Text book. If I am not mistaken, it is our responsibility to familiarize ourselves with these pages for each country we are visiting so we know what we are dealing with. That’s how I read it.

If Greece decides tomorrow to remove that difference for circling and follow the standard obstacle clearance, they will have to either 1) downgrade from pans to something less impressive for a developed EU country or 2) built new airports in better locations than today (coins were flipped when they built those airports years ago to decide their location!) or 3) start chopping some mountains off!

Farty Flaps
9th Jun 2004, 12:01
Just checked a random greek chart annotated "pansops. "
IE not pansops 3, so maybe therein lies the problem, pansops is an old document on which many older charts are drawn especially in the third world. With Greece being an honourary third world country ( or vice versa) this may be the problem. Are the old pansops (0) the same as terps? Shurely shome mishtake

Farty Flaps
11th Jun 2004, 09:13
Never one to let things lie. I checked the nav bag at work , and the specifice exemptions for greece.

They publish both sets of minima. Those charts annotated with an oca(H) are drawn to pans ops minima in all cases. IE cfu,skg, and annoted pansops 3 as you would expect.
Those that are drawn to terps have an OCL annotaed and the appropiate criteria published. ie military, terps etc.

Therefore if your greek chart is annoted pansops 3 thats what it is , not terps, and pansops three circling minima apply. eg check the circle to land plate at cfu. panops 3 with an OCA(H) ergo pansops circle minima.

Sounds to me that a bit of barrack room lawyer activity in some circles (pun intended)

11th Jun 2004, 19:44
I agree with Farty F. Seems if it's TERPS then it is highlighted on the plate. Good topic to raise though :ok: