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How Difficult is it to Navigate in London airspace?

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How Difficult is it to Navigate in London airspace?

Old 5th Jan 2015, 23:37
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: nottingham
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How Difficult is it to Navigate in London airspace?

Hi all,

I have heard numerous different ways of navigating London airways and its all contradictory so want some advice.

For example, flying from Nottingham to Stapleford/Southend - looking at it, there appears a few obstacles but not that are not surmountable.

Some experienced pilots I speak to advise me to not bother, its not worth it.. to difficult, not worth the hassle:

It's looks fairly simple, am I being naive?

regards

Tris
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 00:27
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Join Date: Feb 2002
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It is a straight line 89nm 150t, Witterings western stubb just touches but call them anyway for a following. Old Warden's ATZ is just off to the west, after that its straight in don't forget to go below the stubb at 1500' SW of Stansted and its a TMZ so a call to Essex radar might be in order? Not a difficult route at all though! But if it's just for burning the hours North Weald is much more fun and cheaper!
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 02:01
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"Too difficult" would suggest perhaps the people giving that advice weren't as experienced as you thought.

I would rate it "piece of cake".
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 07:51
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What's the issue you're having? Just choose a destination, plot a direct route then move it around anything you can't go through!

Seriously - Stansted and Luton are simply Class D airspace and 99% time give transits, Gatwick may be a bit more hit and miss.

Just avoid London and Heathrow itself and if you're in any doubt, remain below 2500ft to avoid all the Class A.

Nottingham to Stapleford can be done in a straight line avoiding everything - just remain below the stub at Stansted.

Nottingham to Southend is a straight line calling for Class D transit at Stansted. Seeing how Nottingham is surrounded by Class D you should be used to that airspace anyway.

Go to North Weald - it's better, with a cheaper landing fee and you'll get to see interesting aircraft!
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 13:16
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"or example, flying from Nottingham to Stapleford/Southend - looking at it, there appears a few obstacles but not that are not surmountable."

Not a difficult route at all.

If you don't want to transit the STN zone you could route down the gap between the LTN and STN class D. This is southerly track from Royston down towards Ware VRP, turning south east thereafter. The VRP is easily identified by a large road viaduct in a valley.

Farnborough radar will give you clearance to transit through the STN TMZ (North Weald sits within this), make sure you're below 1500 well before reaching the VRP. If you're routing into north weald you will be assigned conspicuity code 7010 and need to be squawking this (mode s "alt" at all times) when in the vicinity of the field. Its worth calling north weald radio even if you're just flying through the locality as they have a range of fast warbird and jet traffic.

Agreed as between NW and Stapleford, north weald would probably a more enjoyable visit. Just don't confuse runway 20 and 02 which has been a "gotcha" for quite a few people!

Last edited by taxistaxing; 6th Jan 2015 at 23:43.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 15:57
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thanks all,

stapleford/Southend is for family down there.

Some of the people I am talking to are instructors or claim to have a huge amount of hours over some time so its rather confusing. Obviously i try to listen as these all have more experience but this just dint seem right - and it wasn't lol.

How difficult is it in London - anyone had any experiences within London airspace?
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 17:28
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"How difficult is it in London - anyone had any experiences within London airspace?"

When you say "in London" it would be very hard to get much further over London than the route described previously skirting around the northeastern edge of the sprawl. The LCY class D zone extends in from the east quite a long way over the centre. In theory you could ask for a transit but, assuming you fly an SEP, the "glide clear" requirements (not to mention common sense) would preclude you from legally accepting such a clearance at a low enough altitude to remain within the D airspace. The LTMA (class A) steps down to ground level over most of central and west London so a no go unless you have an IR and a clearance.

Southend is a lot further east than north weald / Stapleford so you could follow a more easterly routing from Nottingham out towards Ipswich/Colchester bypassing London altogether.

Worth noting that all of airspace around the eastern edge of London is extremely busy due to the number of airfields and the fact that everyone is flying at 2,000-2,500 avoiding the TMA so a good lookout is a must!
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 17:44
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Some of the people I am talking to are instructors or claim to have a huge amount of hours over some time so its rather confusing. Obviously i try to listen as these all have more experience but this just dint seem right - and it wasn't lol.
Flying hours and experience are not always the same thing. Some people have flown a thousand hours, and some have flown the same hour a thousand times!.

Flying in, and around London's Controlled Airspace is just a case of getting all your ducks in a row before you set off, and having some 'plan Bs' in place in case things don't work out as you planned. Heathrow CTR is Class D just like East Midlands, so don't be afraid to ask for a crossing if you want one. Just be prepared in case you don't get it! Also be aware that a lot of the Zone is over large built up areas, so even if you get a crossing clearance it may be impractical to maintain a safe altitude over them.

In my experience, Stanstead has always been reluctant to allow crossings, so if I was routing Nottingham -Southend, I would plan via Haverehill and Brain (Braintree) The extra time will only be a couple of mins

To Stapleford you can route direct through the gap between Luton and Stansted, but on a nice day this is a VERY busy gap, and on a poor weather day, you are very restricted in your wriggle room to dodge around the showers so if you want a lower stress flight you can still route via Haverhill and Brain.

Don't let any of this put you off, though. It's all in the planning and having the information you need organised in the cockpit.


MJ

Last edited by Mach Jump; 6th Jan 2015 at 17:57. Reason: Punctuation
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 17:51
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"Heathrow CTR is Class D just like East Midlands, so don't be afraid to ask for a crossing if you want one."

Quite right I had missed this recent change! Apologies to the OP.

Glide clear requirement will still pose an issue over the centre, though, even assuming you can get a clearance.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 18:13
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on a poor weather day, you are very restricted in your wriggle room to dodge around the showers
Had a very helpful Luton controller once when doing that.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 18:36
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I am based at Redhill and frequently run up to Manchester, Hull and the Western Highlands or Aberdeen. In a helicopter I have the advantage of using the Helilanes but when unavailable it is no trouble to skirt East of the London zones.


For Manchester or Wales I find it easier to skirt West of Heathrow. I have taken a crossing service but didn't find it saved enough time to be worth the effort. A Far borough crossing service is more useful.

Gatwick crossing is also quite good, though not if I am launching from Readhill as the time spent holding means i could just go around. Recovering back to Redhill from South it's much better as you can call ahead in sufficient to me.

In short - go for it.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 19:16
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Some of the people I am talking to are instructors or claim to have a huge amount of hours over some time so its rather confusing. Obviously i try to listen as these all have more experience but this just dint seem right - and it wasn't lol.
At the risk of ruffling a few feathers - I wouldn't put the words "Experienced" and "Instructor" together in the same sentence when it comes to cross country flying, most of them aren't. They might have lots of hours, but they won't have spent them very far from the airfield.

Before I got an instrument rating I would use Stapleford as a routeing point on the way from Nottingham to Le Touquet. Apart from crossing East Mids you can do the whole journey at 2400 ft without negotiating zone transits or talking to ATC - just route via the Barkway (BKY) VOR, then Brookmans Park (BPK), then direct Stapleford.

Southend - overhead Cambridge, overhead Earls Colne, staying slightly left of track to stay outside the Stansted 1500ft base CTA. Simple.

Do you have any Flight Planning software like SkyDemon? If not - buy it, then fly the flight "in your head" using that. It will reap huge benefits in not getting too many surprises on the flight itself.

Drop me a line if you want to, or could ever meet up for a coffee some time at Tollerton to talk cross country flying and planning.

Last edited by Chilli Monster; 6th Jan 2015 at 22:00.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 19:24
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Join Date: Sep 2012
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Hi,

I fly from Stapleford and agree with others that coming down here should be a non-event. Just back up your DR with a GPS tablet or sumfink.

Originally Posted by taxistaxing
"Heathrow CTR is Class D just like East Midlands, so don't be afraid to ask for a crossing if you want one."

Quite right I had missed this recent change! Apologies to the OP.

Glide clear requirement will still pose an issue over the centre, though, even assuming you can get a clearance.
True that, plus they kept the inner area of the London CTR as "PPR only" which means you will have to announce yourself in advance, with a very good reason. Which means you normally won't go there and won't have the glide clear issue.

Yes, do come to Stapleford, or North Weald just a few miles away, each has a different atmosphere but both have a club serving decent food. As for Southend, well... look for another thread here on how they are trying to drive the GA away.

Originally Posted by Chilli Monster
the whole journey at 2400 ft without negotiating zone transits (...) then Brookmans Park (BPK), then direct Stapleford
That is very close to the Stansted CTA 1500-2500ft so make sure you're precise if DCT and at 2400ft, especially with strong SW winds. Don't ask me how I know.

Let us know when you're coming!



/h88

Last edited by hegemon88; 7th Jan 2015 at 08:51.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 23:35
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Had a very helpful Luton controller once when doing that.
I've always found Luton very helpful. I've been routed over the approach end of the runway several times at 1500'.

PPL V, ATC are there to assist you in completing your flight safely. I sometimes think that some pilots would have you believe that they are there to stop you flying. The best way to go somewhere is to draw a straight line, then have a look at stuff like gliding sites, gas vents and the usual guff. Then have a plan B if for some reason you can't get a class D transit. 95% of the time you will get a transit but buff up on your R/T and sound professional when you speak to people.

I like the caff at Tollerton, I'm there maybe a couple of times a year as it's only 10-15 minutes away and a good place to drop in on when the weather is pants and you need that bacon butty.
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Old 6th Jan 2015, 23:58
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I follow the approach that getting a transit is plan B (albeit preferred). Resign yourself to not getting it, ask for it then have a pleasant surprise when some time and distance is shaved off your journey. The last thing you want is to be mentally prepared to getting it, not getting it and then , close to the boundary, having to switch the second best.

Might be psychological but the brain is a funny thing.
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Old 7th Jan 2015, 13:12
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Agreed as between NW and Stapleford, north weald would probably a more enjoyable visit. Just don't confuse runway 20 and 02 which has been a "gotcha" for quite a few people.
I did that at Shoreham once.

Won't make that mistake again...
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Old 7th Jan 2015, 22:46
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Quote:
Agreed as between NW and Stapleford, north weald would probably a more enjoyable visit. Just don't confuse runway 20 and 02 which has been a "gotcha" for quite a few people.
I did that at Shoreham once.

Won't make that mistake again...


Reminds me of a situation at my home base a couple of months ago (unlicensed grass strip, runways 13 and 31, no ATC, use local military base for cover)

I've just completed power checks at the threshold entry to 13, wind was something like 180/10, when a late radio call comes across from someone who hasn't so far been transmitting suggesting that they are turning to final on 31.

From ATC - 'Wind 180/10 are you sure you want runway 31'. Response 'Affirm, final 31'. I'm thinking 'WTF?'

I can't see them on final which is unusual. All of a sudden there is a roar above me and they touch down on 13, followed by a radio call 'Sorry, had map upside down'.
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Old 7th Jan 2015, 23:21
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I can't see them on final which is unusual. All of a sudden there is a roar above me and they touch down on 13, followed by a radio call 'Sorry, had map upside down'.
I've had similar at EGSX, holding short of 20 after someone had called final only for them to come whipping past in the wrong direction, followed by a grovelling apology. In fairness it's a horribly easy mistake to make. I always make a point of looking at my DI when I'm approaching any airfield to ensure I know (and really know) which runway I'm landing on. The consequences of joining a busy circuit downwind heading the wrong way just don't bear thinking about.

You really need eyes in the back of your head sometimes. I had another scary scenario a few weeks back, also at EGSX. I'd just called downwind for 20 and was surprised to spot a light aircraft high above. Sure enough the call came over the radio "G...XXXX overhead the field at 2300 feet request joining information". When told he was in Stansted's airspace he promptly did a 180 degree turn and dived towards the downwind leg of the circuit! We're all fallible but this was inexcusable in my view as he clearly knew exactly where he was!
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Old 8th Jan 2015, 08:44
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To really confuse things at NW, the runways used to be

02/20 and 13/31 !

Fortunately, due to the joys of magnetic variation, it's now 02/20 and 12/30.
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Old 8th Jan 2015, 23:24
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I've lined up on 20 (the usual runway) at my place when the runway in use has been 02, bear in mind we enter the runway around midway and turn onto the runway in use 'cos I have over 9,000' to have a punt at... Luckily a laconic ATC personage spotted my deliberate mistake which I put down to a senior moment.

I've also called downwind somewhere else when I was deadside descending which caused a few panicked calls from others. I knew I was deadside but the wrong words came out. Engage brain before opening gob.

There have been moments in the past as well when I've gone totally brain dead when approaching an airfield with regards to where I should be to make an overhead join. That is until I had the best piece of advice I've ever had about that sort of thing which I shall repeat here; not teaching you experienced guys how to suck eggs but there might be some newbies here who haven't heard this.

If you are approaching an airfield and the runway in use is '*** RH' then all you have to do is keep the runway/airfield on your right at all times. Same if it's LH, just keep everything on your left. You can't possibly go wrong.

Last edited by thing; 8th Jan 2015 at 23:37.
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