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Maiden channel crossing advice

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Maiden channel crossing advice

Old 20th Jul 2022, 15:54
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Maiden channel crossing advice

Hi all,

I'm aiming for my first channel crossing (North Weald to Le Touquet) and doing some research into what additional things I need to take care of that I wouldn't normally need to for a UK based flight. Here is what I found so far:

- Ensure that the aircraft contains the following documentation:
- Certificate of Registration
- C of A or Permit to Fly with its matching Certificate of Validity
- Insurance Certificate
- The license for the aircraft's radio installation
- File a flight plan using SkyDemon
- Activate flight plan with departure ATC
- Close flight plan with destination ATC
- Create GAR on this website: https://www.submit-general-aviation-.../welcome/index
- Switch from London Information to Le Touquet when crossing FIR boundary
- Pick shortest passage over the channel, probably Dover to Ambleteuse
- Go to customs at the terminal upon arrival

Q:
- Have I missed anything?
- Can I file both the outbound and the return flight before departing the UK?
- Does French ATC use the same calls or are there any nuances?
- Do I need to make any particular calls when crossing the FIR boundary other than to request a frequency change?
- What's the recommended altitude for crossing the channel assuming CAVOK?

Cheers!
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 17:03
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Wear life jackets in case you decide to land en route.
Revise your Franglais and always start your R/T with "Bonjour Parry" and then explain (slowly and loudly) in English that those are the only French words you know.
Check the train (chemins de fer) timetable in case of trains crossing the runway at LT.
If you order 'tetes de veau' at the excellent LT restaurant, don't expect a lovely T-bone steak - you will get a whole deer's head on your plate.
A short rendering of 'la Marsellaise' at douanes will get you fast-tracked.
Remember the engine note always changes just as you lose sight of land !
Apart from these points just enjoy and make it the first of many trips.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 18:17
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Yes, for any overwater flying, wear (not just carry) wear your lifejacket, or, if the water will be cold, immersion suit. Actually wearing my lifejacket saved my life once (the lifejacket died, I didn't). Put your cell phone in a waterproof bag, clipped to your lifejacket. Though my phone was clipped to my lifejacket, it was torn off. My wife called it for three days, and it rang, but only the fish could hear it. The waterproof bag worked, though did not float! Consider that what you have on your person when you exit a ditched airplane is most likely all you will be taking with you. Carry in pockets/butt pack everything you would want to have with your while you're bobbing in the channel. For sure: Whistle, flares and light. I suggest drinking water and a snack too!

Form a mental note, winds aloft considered, of your "halfway point". Up to this point/time, I turn around, beyond that point/time, I continue, if there is a problem with the plane.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 18:53
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Thank you for the life jacket advice although I think my survival chances after crashing into the channel are pretty low and I don't fancy my chances of a successful ditching. I'll probably focus my efforts on not crashing in the first place but a life jacket won't hurt especially if my school can lend me one.

When crossing the FIR boundary, would I just request frequency change to LT and then request joining instructions from LT?
If I need to talk to Lille Information for some reason, do I request basic information like in the UK?
Is there any particular time in advance of the flights that I should file the flight plan?
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 19:32
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When crossing the FIR boundary, would I just request frequency change to LT and then request joining instructions from LT? Your don't need to request a frequency change from London Info. Just tell them you are contacting Le Touquet on 118.45. Pick up the Le Touquet ATIS before you do. It will tell you the runway in use etc. Le Touquet speak perfect English, provided they are not at lunch...see NOTAM's
If I need to talk to Lille Information for some reason, do I request basic information like in the UK? Basic service, traffic service etc do not exist outside the UK. Lille will probably have your flight plan and will give you traffic information for the short time you are with them,
Is there any particular time in advance of the flights that I should file the flight plan? One hour minimum.

Also you need to notify Le Touquet customs of your arrival at least 2 hrs ahead. See Le Touquet website for address. A copy of your GAR will do. They may also want to see your COVID certificate on arrival.

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Old 20th Jul 2022, 19:57
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Originally Posted by DLT1939 View Post
When crossing the FIR boundary, would I just request frequency change to LT and then request joining instructions from LT? Your don't need to request a frequency change from London Info. Just tell them you are contacting Le Touquet on 118.45. Pick up the Le Touquet ATIS before you do. It will tell you the runway in use etc. Le Touquet speak perfect English, provided they are not at lunch...see NOTAM's
If I need to talk to Lille Information for some reason, do I request basic information like in the UK? Basic service, traffic service etc do not exist outside the UK. Lille will probably have your flight plan and will give you traffic information for the short time you are with them,
Is there any particular time in advance of the flights that I should file the flight plan? One hour minimum.

Also you need to notify Le Touquet customs of your arrival at least 2 hrs ahead. See Le Touquet website for address. A copy of your GAR will do. They may also want to see your COVID certificate on arrival.
Thank you! I can see there is a customs email address where I can send the GAR to.

If I don't request basic information from Lille, what would I say to them? Just my call sign and then pass my message when they respond?
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 20:13
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If I don't request basic information from Lille, what would I say to them? Just my call sign and then pass my message when they respond? Yes. The first thing they will do is give you a squawk.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 20:15
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"Thank you for the life jacket advice although I think my survival chances after crashing into the channel are pretty low and I don't fancy my chances of a successful ditching."
Statistics show your survival chances are very good IF you're WEARING a lifejacket, in that area even without a survival suit.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 20:20
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Slightly off topic, but how about a trip to Edinburgh or Dundee as an alternative to a channel crossing with a single engine ?
If you're really adventurous, have a tour of the highlands too !
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 20:24
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Here is the PDF version of the Le Touquet form to send before arrival and departure

PLEASE NOTE FROM 1ST OF JULY 2020, DUE TO ATC STAFFING ISSUES, NO AIR TRAFFIC SERVICES WILL BE PROVIDED FROM 11.30 UTC TO 13.00 UTC.

AIR TO AIR COMMUNICATION IN FRENCH ONLY

IN CASE OF DIFFICULTIES WITH FRENCH LANGUAGE? PLEASE AIM TO LAND OR TAKE OFF BEFORE 11.30 UTC OR AFTER 13.00 UTC.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 20:38
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Originally Posted by Skylark58 View Post
Here is the PDF version of the Le Touquet form to send before arrival and departure

PLEASE NOTE FROM 1ST OF JULY 2020, DUE TO ATC STAFFING ISSUES, NO AIR TRAFFIC SERVICES WILL BE PROVIDED FROM 11.30 UTC TO 13.00 UTC.

AIR TO AIR COMMUNICATION IN FRENCH ONLY

IN CASE OF DIFFICULTIES WITH FRENCH LANGUAGE? PLEASE AIM TO LAND OR TAKE OFF BEFORE 11.30 UTC OR AFTER 13.00 UTC.
Thanks. I'll aim to get there before 11:30.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 20:40
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Originally Posted by kit344 View Post
Slightly off topic, but how about a trip to Edinburgh or Dundee as an alternative to a channel crossing with a single engine ?
If you're really adventurous, have a tour of the highlands too !
Yeah that is a cool idea, although I think I'd have to refuel half way a probably stay overnight. Not sure my school would allow that.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 20:52
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In addition to life jacket and PLB, it is not bad idea to download Marine Traffic or similar app so that you can see the closest ship. Also getting marine radio licence and handheld marine radio with a >red button< could speed up search and rescue as ships will see your distress signal and may act faster than officials.
Enjoy your flight
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 21:24
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Originally Posted by admuffin View Post
Hi all,

I'm aiming for my first channel crossing (North Weald to Le Touquet) and doing some research into what additional things I need to take care of that I wouldn't normally need to for a UK based flight. Here is what I found so far:

- Ensure that the aircraft contains the following documentation:
- Certificate of Registration
- C of A or Permit to Fly with its matching Certificate of Validity
- Insurance Certificate
- The license for the aircraft's radio installation
- File a flight plan using SkyDemon
- Activate flight plan with departure ATC
- Close flight plan with destination ATC
- Create GAR on this website: https://www.submit-general-aviation-.../welcome/index
- Switch from London Information to Le Touquet when crossing FIR boundary
- Pick shortest passage over the channel, probably Dover to Ambleteuse
- Go to customs at the terminal upon arrival

Q:
- Have I missed anything?
- Can I file both the outbound and the return flight before departing the UK?
- Does French ATC use the same calls or are there any nuances?
- Do I need to make any particular calls when crossing the FIR boundary other than to request a frequency change?
- What's the recommended altitude for crossing the channel assuming CAVOK?

Cheers!
I think you need a General Declaration as well.

https://www.gendec.eu/
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 21:30
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Originally Posted by ericferret View Post
I think you need a General Declaration as well.

https://www.gendec.eu/
Can I fill this in upon arrival?
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 22:38
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In my experience, French ATC are a bit more laid-back than their British counterparts and can appear quite disinterested in what you are doing, although I’m sure they actually provide a decent level of service.

Heard some years ago on Paris Information:

Pilot: “Bonjour, this is G-BMCA, C152 from Lydd to Abbeville, VFR, two PoB, squawking 2000, maintaining 5,000’ on the Chatham Regional 1015, 52DME on the 348 radial from ABB, airspeed 110kts, ETA 1437Z, I’m Dave and I’m sitting next to Mike, etc.”

Pregnant pause

ATC: “So?"
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 22:40
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IN CASE OF DIFFICULTIES WITH FRENCH LANGUAGE? PLEASE AIM TO LAND OR TAKE OFF BEFORE 11.30 UTC OR AFTER 13.00 UTC.
That is not necessary. Conversation in French is not required. Making the standard calls using French terminology is obviously helpful and is what is intended by the remark: "make circuit calls in French when ATC is not available". This is a relaxation of the French Rules of the Air but it is not an instruction to speak French.

The Le Touquet airport website provides a link to an excellent site, for non French speakers, that explains all this in detail and should put minds at rest; 'Idiot -proof French Radio Procedures' which is provided by Lingaero.com.

The UK GAR form is a 'General Declaration' for UK purposes.

Last edited by Fl1ingfrog; 20th Jul 2022 at 23:09.
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Old 21st Jul 2022, 00:17
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If it’s a nice day (which it will be if you are going for the first time) and if a weekend expect a lot of traffic in the Le Touquet area and circuit ...mostly arriving from the UK from different directions with all sorts of “joins”.

They can appear from anywhere. Keep an extremely good lookout.

The standard of airmanship can be appalling!

Dont file the flight plan more than a day in advance as many are getting lost over there recently. You can file the return flight plan before you leave.

Allow plenty of extra time for your return as NW closes strictly at 7 pm and, if Le Touquet is busy, there is often a delay in getting away.
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Old 21st Jul 2022, 04:37
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When I was a controller on Farnborough LARS East in 2008 I always suggested that people crossing to Le Touquet/Calais remain on my frequency for FIS (called 'Basic Service' at the moment but likely to change) and alerting service so that I could keep them identified on radar as far as at least the FIR boundary both from LYD and also from SFD, that way if anything happened, I could provide an immediate alerting service via D & D which was just one button push away and was always answered immediately .
OK it was outside my area of operation but I had excellent radar coverage (as low as 400ft amsl over Pevensey Bay) and my opinion, safety overrides all else so I had no compunction in 'bending' the rules.
I don't think this happens nowadays as I retired in late 2008 and as far as I'm aware the controllers who followed after me weren't willing to provide this service however you could always try asking Farnborough for Alerting Service on 123.225..
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Old 21st Jul 2022, 08:44
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Originally Posted by Fl1ingfrog View Post
That is not necessary. Conversation in French is not required. Making the standard calls using French terminology is obviously helpful and is what is intended by the remark: "make circuit calls in French when ATC is not available". This is a relaxation of the French Rules of the Air but it is not an instruction to speak French.

The Le Touquet airport website provides a link to an excellent site, for non French speakers, that explains all this in detail and should put minds at rest; 'Idiot -proof French Radio Procedures' which is provided by Lingaero.com.

The UK GAR form is a 'General Declaration' for UK purposes.
Thank you, this is a useful link! However, I'll still aim to get there before 11:30 for my first time, just to take out one more thing out of the equation on top of all the other stuff I need to remember.
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