Safety & Ops > Channel Crossing Know-How

Coming off the back of the club's successful involvement in the Bleriot Centenary celebrations, we have a fair amount of 'know how' on crossing the Channel which it seems sensible to retain on this website for the benefit of anyone contemplating a flight across to the land of cheese and wine in future.

You are of course personally responsible for planning your own flight and understanding the procedures… However the following links and a couple of evenings on the internet with a good printer should get you most of the way there.

NB: Nothing specific about the Channel Islands here yet - please contact dandsmc@devonandsomersetmc.co.uk if you can help.

(Last updated 5/6/10) 

Flight Planning

' Flying Abroad by Microlight' by John Lloyd -  www.bmaa.org/catalogue_item.php?catID=3886&prodID=18964

• Alisdair Arthur's Guide to Flying to France - www.arthurandarthur.co.uk/flying/flying_to_france.htm

• Note that departures and arrivals in France/UK must be at a customs airfield unless alternative arrangements are made with Customs (eg. using Form GAR in the UK). 
• Most customs airfields in France are within Class D airspace which normally requires a transponder (see bullets below).
Customs airfields are shown on UK charts with their name in a dashed box.

• Guide to Flying in France written by French PPL Thierry - flyinfrance.free.fr/ (seems full of handy insider knowledge)

• French AIS (SIA) - www.sia.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/default.htm

On the SIA site:-
Follow the link for NOTAMS.
Maps can be bought in the 'boutique' (or from people like Jeppeson and Pooleys in the UK).
The French authorities take a dim view of anyone flying without plates for the airfields they intend to visit - these can be downloaded under 'AIP-Cartes'.
The French 'VFR Guide' is available in English and French under 'Reglementation'. Pooleys and other flight guides also usually have a section on French air law. (NB: A transponder is usually mandatory in French Class D airspace but rumour has it they may let you in without one if you phone them first and ask nicely! Do not call them in the air and pretend you didn't know a transponder was needed...)

• Safety Sense Leaflet 1 'Airmanship' - www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?

(see the section on flying abroad)

• Safety Sense Leaflet 11 'Interception Procedures' -  www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?

(must be carried on international flights)

• Safety Sense Leaflet 20 'Flight Plans' -  www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?

Worth noting that:-
Outbound from UK: your flight plan must be closed by local ATC (or by telephoning French regional ATC - eg. Lille INFO) to avoid incurring Search & Rescue costs!
Inbound to UK: you should request French regional ATC to 'Open flight plan' on the radio to ensure it has been done. In contrast to France, there is no need to close your flight plan on arrival in England if you land at your planned destination on time.

• Jeppeson Charts - jeppdirect.jeppesen.com/product_listing_template.jsp?catId=cat10224

• French MET - www.meteo.fr/aeroweb (registration code required)

• Olivia (French official GA pilots' site for Notams, wx, and filing flight plans) - olivia.aviation-civile.gouv.fr

• Lydd Webcam - www.lyddaero.co.uk/Webcam.htm

• Le Touquet Webcam - www.aeroport-letouquet.com/cam/index.htm

• Navigeo (French airfields database) - www.navigeo.org

• FFPLUM (French BMAA) - www.ffplum.com

The UK AIP says --

ENR 1-1-3-7

7 Low Level Cross-Channel Operations - UK/France

7.1 Pilots undertaking Cross-Channel flights are reminded that a flight plan MUST be filed for all flights to or from the United 
Kingdom which will cross the United Kingdom/France FIR Boundary.

7.2 When filing the flight plan with the UK and French Authorities, pilots are to ensure that well defined significant points/
features, at which the aircraft will cross the UK and French coast-lines, are included in Item 18 (Other Information) of the flight 
plan form (eg Beachy Head, Berck-sur-Mer, Lydd, Boulogne, Dover, Cap Gris Nez, etc). This is for Search and Rescue
purposes but will also assist ATC.

7.3 Pilots should plan their flights, where possible, at such altitudes which would enable radio contact to be maintained with 
the appropriate ATC Unit whilst the aircraft is transitting the Channel. In addition, the French Authorities have requested that
aircraft fly at altitudes which will keep them within Radar cover. The carriage of Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR)
equipment is recommended.

7.4 Position reports are required when crossing the coast outbound, inbound and when crossing the FIR Boundary.

7.5 Pilots undertaking Cross-Channel flights under IFR, are reminded that the normal IFR Rules will apply particularly 
regarding altitudes and flight levels. Pilots are also reminded that the IMC rating is not recognized by the French Authorities.

7.6 In UK Airspace a bi-directional Recommended VFR Route between the Solent CTA and the Channel Islands CTR routing 
towards the Cherboug Peninsula is established (See AD 2-EGJJ-3-1). All traffic using the route above 3000 ft amsl are
advised to maintain the appropriate quadrantal flight level irrespective of the flight rules being observed. Pilots flying above
3000 ft amsl are reminded of the requirement to maintain an appropriate semi-circular level whilst within the French FIR.

Parts of GEN 1.2.1 are also relevant:


The Club has acquired a Personal Locator Beacon, and 2 life jackets, for general loan to members. 

A PLB is not mandatory equipment for microlights flying in France, as it is for Group A aircraft, but is obviously a good idea for crossing the Channel. The exemption for microlights (ULMs) is contained in French AIC A07/05, a copy of which is on the BMAA website.

• Safety Sense Leaflet 21 'Ditching' - www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?

• Safety equipment can be hired from SEMS Aerosafe - www.aerosafe.co.uk (other providers may be available)

Hubert Latham ditched in his Antoinette monoplane just a few days before Bleriot succeeded





Devon & Somerset Microlight Club