Flying Abroad

Two Christmas presents I received from my family were UK aviation-related: a chart of the southern England airspace, and a handbook containing runway diagrams and airport information for every UK airport. They were both fascinating reading but one thought struck me right away: I didn’t understand a thing I read! Loads of acronyms in replace of our Class D, C etc, and other air space designations I didn’t recognise. It all looked very difficult to get from A to B. I would definitely a comprehensive ground session before getting near any British cockpit as PIC. I had always been under the impression that what we used here were ICAO standard terms but there is obviously more than what I thought I knew.

My Dad has said that next time I visit home he might treat me to a pleasure flight with an instructor, would be fascinating to do.

3 thoughts on “Flying Abroad”

  1. I have often thought it would be fun to find FBOs while travelling abroad and take in an internation flight. I am sure there are a a bunch of tiny differences like you said in the communication process and procedures.

  2. I should post some text from the airport directory but it has things like “contact london CTA before entering biggles ATR, pattern altitude is 1000 QFE, airport altitude is 400 QFH” or something like that. I was like huh?

  3. Yeah, the airspace here is pretty complicated. One of the biggest differences I’ve heard about is the radio lingo. We use QFE a lot, but that comes from the flatness of the country!

    We do use the standard ICAO seven-class airspace model here, just a little differently to what you’ll be used to.

    Class A is for the busiest airports (Heathrow, Manchester) and their surrounding areas, and all airways. (Yes, that’s right, it means we non-instrument-rated pilots can’t use airways – and the JAA IR is an awful lot harder to get than the FAA IR.)
    Class B is everything between FL245 and FL660(?).
    Class C is not used. (Except, it will be later this year, when all current Class B is being reclassified as C, and certain other high-altitude areas too.
    Class D is for most airports with passenger traffic. We take our Class D quite seriously; you have to have an explicit clearance to enter (something like “G-YZ cleared into the class D via the overhead”).
    Class E is only used for a couple of TMAs.
    Class F is only used for “advisory routes” (sort-of low-traffic “airways”, there aren’t many of them).
    Class G is everything else.

    Orthogonally to the airspace classes there are also Danger, Restricted and Prohibited areas. Danger areas are mostly military firing/training areas, while restricted and prohibited areas are for various security purposes. The chart legend will tell you of the existence of the restrictions but not the details; for those you have to dig into the AIP. (Available online at – registration required.)

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