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pilot-discussion Procedures into/out of Northolt and Fairoaks

John Price

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John Price

Hi folks,

I did one flight into Fairoaks VFR a few weeks ago while Heathrow Radar was online and messed it up a bit. I'm going to do a few flights into Northolt but wanted to know the procedure for flying VFR to airfields under the London CTR. Is it just a standard zone transit request? I presume it doesn't have to be special VFR now it's Class D airspace (I think?) Are there specific routes/lanes to these airfields? I can't find them in the AIP.

Cheers everyone

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Chad Byworth

For Fairoaks (and Denham & White Waltham too) it's fairly simple. They all have Local Flying Areas (LFAs) within the class D airspace of the London CTR:


Within these areas you can fly without reference to VATSIM ATC (unless the Info position is open) as long as you are VFR and operate below the relevant altitude restriction.

Northolt is a bit more complex because there's one of 3 people you can speak to.
Ideally if Northolt APP is open then speak to them, they will clear you into the into the CTR within their RMA (which is also shown above).
The next in the pecking list is Thames APP. They provide ATC for VFR/SVFR within the Heathrow and London City CTRs. They will clear you into the CTR but will not cover Northolt top down, expect to go to unicom once in the circuit/on final.
If Thames isn't open then the next option is Heathrow APP who provide the same service in Thames' absence. Again, do not expect top down cover of Northolt.
(Also if LTC_S_CTR or LON_S_CTR is open without Heathrow APP then contact them as they will cover Heathrow top down.)

In terms of routes. Yes, it's VFR if the weather permits, SVFR if it doesn't. If you're fixed wing do not expect entrance inside the green area in the above diagram (the Heathrow inner area). You can expect for example, direct Northolt from the north, or from the south a routing via Ascot --> BUR --> Northolt or possibly overhead the London Heliport then direct Northolt. If you're a helicopter you can be cleared in to the inner area. Typically you will route via the heli-routes here but depending on where you are (and how many engines you have) you can also go "off-route". A very common "off-route" routing for helicopters is the BNN 133 radial to Brent reservoir (roughly the NW corner of the R160 restricted area) then direct London Heliport, but this is only available to twin engine helis.

Hope that's useful. Let me know if you have any questions.

I should be on Thames this Sunday from 1730-1930z if you fancy a go. There's a Heathrow event on but I can keep you clear of anywhere you shouldn't be 🙂

Edited by Chad Byworth
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  • 3 weeks later...
John Price

That’s really good Chad thank you very much for that guidance I am going to have a go at VFR to Northolt going direct from the North and see how it goes. If I am coming from the N and, say, Heathrow Director is online, do I need a zone transit to enter into the Class D airspace from them or can I just continue without talking to them as I’ll be in the Northolt RMA?

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Chad Byworth

Yeah you'll need a clearance in. The order of priority is:

1. Northolt - EGWU_APP

2. Thames - THAMES_APP

3. Heathrow - EGLL_N_APP

4. London - LTC_(S)_CTR or LON_S_CTR

Work your way down the list based on who is online.

If you know when you're planning to give it a go I could even open Northolt Approach if you'd like?

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John Price

Ah Chad thank you that’s very kind - I was hoping to do lots of flights into/out of Northolt with the Milviz King Air once it got to P3D v5 but it’s taking longer than expected, I might try it at some point in another aircraft.

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  • 2 months later...
Tim Clark

Josh, just to follow up on going into the smaller airfields like Fairoaks, Denham etc. (I work in the tower at Fairoaks!) - there is no clearance required to enter the ATZ as these airfields have a dispensation from the CAA so that they do not assume all of the rules of technically being and sitting within Class D airspace. I would just check whether or not there is somebody online there, as if there is a FISO working then you need to obtain airfield information before entering the ATZ at an AFIS airfield (not true for Denham where they offer a Radio service). But there is no need to talk to Heathrow etc. for a clearance!

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