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Ferrying from China - Language barriers?

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Ferrying from China - Language barriers?

Old 29th Sep 2020, 05:21
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Ferrying from China - Language barriers?

Hi.
A friend of mine has apparently (nearly) bought a turbine chopper in China. He's got a PPL-H and I've got a PPL-A.
We are wondering if it would be possible to fly it back to Scandinavia ourselves through China, Mongolia and Russia. My role in all of this would be handling ATC and fuel stop logistics. We're looking at a roughly 40-50 hrs flight time, 12 stop trip.
My primary concern is prob ATC. Is there anyone here who has some experience with rural areas in Northern China, Mongolia and Russia? What's the English level like? My Mandarin is terrible, so just wondering. Looking for an adventure, but not to get shot down. Think spring next year is first realistic ferry possibility, pending Corona situation.

Thanks guys.
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Old 29th Sep 2020, 07:24
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Don't worry about Chinese ATC. They'll communicate to you in English. If in any doubt ask them to say again slowly.
I can't imagine Mongolia is any different, Russia I don't know. Never flown through their airspace.
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Old 29th Sep 2020, 11:06
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All will use English for non-native language speakers
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Old 29th Sep 2020, 13:55
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Just speak slow phonetic ICAO RT phraseology and things will be fine.
What would be of bigger concerns is overflight permits.
The countries you mention are not particularly known to be a hotbed of Private GA.
You’re not working for a Commercial operator so I would expect quite some red tape and raised eyebrows.
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Old 29th Sep 2020, 14:23
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Originally Posted by B2N2 View Post
Just speak slow phonetic ICAO RT phraseology and things will be fine.
What would be of bigger concerns is overflight permits.
The countries you mention are not particularly known to be a hotbed of Private GA.
You’re not working for a Commercial operator so I would expect quite some red tape and raised eyebrows.
Thanks for the feedback guys.
​​​​​​​Turns out it was a pipe dream. Passing through Russia isn't the bottleneck as I first suspected, but realized that China isn't that GA friendly (yet) even though they are working on it from what I can tell. The trip would involve four long VFR stretches by PPL pilots across China before reaching Mongolia and from what I can tell that would be nearly impossible to get acceptance for. Would be great to be proven wrong though, then this epic trip planning would be back on track😀👍 For me at least, it would be a once in a lifetime experience.
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Old 29th Sep 2020, 20:06
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Most of the Russian airspace is reserved for local traffic only, international routes are often at FL 200 and above. You can get permission to fly trough local airspace but for this you need one extra crew member who is able to handle Russian atc, even ppl (a) will suffice . Some years ago a was involved in a similar venture and had to accompany German helicopter from Romania to Russia. I believe i might still have a contact of a dispatcher who can get you all the permits for a reasonable price.
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 00:32
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It would be an epic adventure for sure.
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 04:39
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Russian Airspace

Getting a clearance through Russian Airspace can be very tricky. A lot of military airspace. In my case my crew and I were ferrying a turboprop airliner from the USA to Japan and needed to stop in Russia for fuel. We had planned to fly the aircraft from Los Angeles via Anchorage and then directly west but due to airspace restrictions had to head up to Nome Alaska and then south west to Magadan for fuel before continuing onto Japan. Minimum flight level was above 20,000ft. You will definitely need special visa's to fly into Russian Airspace. We also discovered that they used a lot of metric figures for weather, altitude etc. This was nearly 20 years ago. We were in Russian controlled airspace all the way and all the Russian aircraft at our level and above were talking in their own language. Yet the controller we had enjoyed practicing his English when communicating to us. It took me several weeks before we departed for me to study the jep charts and possible alternates. My suggestion is that you carry at least two GPS systems because if you go off track then there is a chance of military interception. Good luck but be very careful and do study the airspace and checkout the price of fuel well in advance.
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Old 30th Sep 2020, 07:50
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Originally Posted by boaccomet4 View Post
Getting a clearance through Russian Airspace can be very tricky. A lot of military airspace. In my case my crew and I were ferrying a turboprop airliner from the USA to Japan and needed to stop in Russia for fuel. We had planned to fly the aircraft from Los Angeles via Anchorage and then directly west but due to airspace restrictions had to head up to Nome Alaska and then south west to Magadan for fuel before continuing onto Japan. Minimum flight level was above 20,000ft. You will definitely need special visa's to fly into Russian Airspace. We also discovered that they used a lot of metric figures for weather, altitude etc. This was nearly 20 years ago. We were in Russian controlled airspace all the way and all the Russian aircraft at our level and above were talking in their own language. Yet the controller we had enjoyed practicing his English when communicating to us. It took me several weeks before we departed for me to study the jep charts and possible alternates. My suggestion is that you carry at least two GPS systems because if you go off track then there is a chance of military interception. Good luck but be very careful and do study the airspace and checkout the price of fuel well in advance.
Thanks a lot for this experience "report", much appreciated. The redundant GPS /Glonass nav aid systems sounds like a very good idea. In any case, it seems like things can get way more complicated and expensive than anticipated based on your story. For us, Russia would be the only way to go. A more southerly route would imply flying through conflict zones which is out of the question.
Got a recommendation for these guys though:

​​​​​​makgas.com

For a fee they pretty much make the trip through Russia painless and fun, judging by the stories on their website.
They provide a quote based on your needs so that you've got a rough idea of what to expect, cost and time wise.
​Their services cover Mongolia as well, so for us the only obstacle (apart from Covid) is figuring out how, if possible at all, to fly through China.
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Old 1st Oct 2020, 06:43
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You won't have a problem with ATC, everyone will speak English sufficiently well.

Where you will have a problem is ground handling. It is essential that you make advance arrangements for a local handler to facilitate your fuel stops, night stops, flight plan filing, that kind of stuff.

I have made many intercontinental ferry flights in small turboprops (Twin Otters) from North America to Asia & the Pacific via Russia, transiting Anadyr, Magadan, then on to Khabarovsk or Vladivostok and further south through North Korean airspace. Never had a problem - but, I always used a local handler at each stop. Even after making a dozen landings at the same Russian airport, I'd still make darn sure I had a handler.

To try and make a flight such as you have described without using a facilitator to organize the trip & make sure you have handlers at each stop along the way would be foolish.
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Old 1st Oct 2020, 10:21
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Originally Posted by V1... Ooops View Post
You won't have a problem with ATC, everyone will speak English sufficiently well.

Where you will have a problem is ground handling. It is essential that you make advance arrangements for a local handler to facilitate your fuel stops, night stops, flight plan filing, that kind of stuff.

I have made many intercontinental ferry flights in small turboprops (Twin Otters) from North America to Asia & the Pacific via Russia, transiting Anadyr, Magadan, then on to Khabarovsk or Vladivostok and further south through North Korean airspace. Never had a problem - but, I always used a local handler at each stop. Even after making a dozen landings at the same Russian airport, I'd still make darn sure I had a handler.

To try and make a flight such as you have described without using a facilitator to organize the trip & make sure you have handlers at each stop along the way would be foolish.
Thanks for good advice there!
We would likely use the "makgas.com" company for handling and assistance within Russia and Mongolia. We are PPL pilots who do not speak Russian, so to keep a degree of realism to our plan we would need the support you describe. We are confident that we can do the stick and rudder work from all the A's to B's if we plan well ahead, but like you say there are a lot of things that need to work out on the ground.
We sent a query here the other day to "makgas" and first impression is that they are very helpful and professional indeed, just like their website suggests. When, or if, things start to materialize, we will request a quote and sketch up an itinerary together with them.

As for flying low level VFR I haven't looked at Jeppesen charts yet. I fear that we will need to deviate with a lot of zigs and zags along the way to avoid areas that are forbidden for private flights. Would prob be easier if we could cruise at a high altitude FL. The chopper has a 19000 ft ceiling, but it's not fitted with ox system (I think), so FL100 is prob the best we can generally plan for.

Will keep you guys posted on how this goes. Many things might happen, first the chopper needs to get bought and that is pending that it all checks out ok. Then there's the flying through China obstacle, but we are working on that. Corona we can't do anything about, so we just need to be optimistic🙂

All costs also need to be estimated as good as possible up front to get some idea of what we are looking at.

Thanks for all advice guys!
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Old 1st Oct 2020, 18:56
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You were probably flying via international routes where ATC speaks English and used international airports for refueling and night stops. But some routes will be too high for the helicopter and it means he will be forced to fly at 300-900m AGL where Russians have "local air traffic corridors" with only russian speaking informators. In former USSR there is no class G airspace as we know it (technically there is but its way different from western world) - you either fly 300-900 meters AGL via local routes, or you climb flight level 150ish or above and there is nothing in between - say i wanna fly at 7000 feet in class G - no way, it will be denied.
Once i was forced to fly at 1300 feet AGL for 700 miles at night.
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Old 2nd Oct 2020, 05:27
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"Once i was forced to fly at 1300 feet AGL for 700 miles at night".

That sentence made me need the toilet😂
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