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On the weekend I visited an airfield (it IS inside an ATZ) that has a PPR section on their site. I've previously called ahead on the radio for PPR.

Anyway I called them on frequency 10 miles out and they asked if I had PPR. I said no. The response: "Then we can't accept you unless you have a flight safety issue, have a safe onward flight".

And that was that. Could I have asked more questions or tried to get in anyway? I happen to know it's not a very busy airfield.

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    $\begingroup$ OOI, does the AIP state that the airfield is "PPR required"? If so, why didn't you comply? $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Dec 1, 2023 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ Also, for the record I only know of 1 airfield in the UK which is specifically non PPR and that's Sandown as I'm sure you know. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Dec 1, 2023 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Jamiec no excuse - I was in a rush $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Dec 1, 2023 at 13:11
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    $\begingroup$ no judgement whatsoever, but just a point of safety; there is no such thing as "in a rush" in recreational flying. You haven't got to be anywhere, you've no commercial pressure whatsoever. Every single time I've had any incident while flying it can be traced back to me (thinking) I was in a rush. Take it slower. If time is a pressure, go a different day. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Dec 4, 2023 at 8:54

2 Answers 2

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This is one of the oddities of flying in the UK.

In every other part of the world that I've ever flown airports operate on the basis that they sort of expect aeroplanes to come and land there. In the UK we have this slightly bizarre concept of "Prior Permission required" and as almost all small airfields are privately owned, it's like any private property, you need permission to use it - and the owner reserves the right to make their own rules.

There is some logic behind it, albeit slightly obtuse. Even though almost all those airfields have been there since pre-WW2, the locals love to complain about noise. So to keep people happy, the airfields agree to limit the movements. By asking pilots to request permission before coming, they can reject requests if they have reached some quota. In some cases the land use as an airfield is predicated on PPR being in operation.

Lesson learned - always call/fill in the online form prior to departure.


Specific answers:

Could I have asked more questions or tried to get in anyway?

You can always ask, but their land, their rules. It doesn't matter if there was 1 or 100,000 movements that day. Busy or not, it's their choice. Of course, as an uncontrolled airfield they cannot give you permission to land or otherwise. Don't expect a warm welcome if you land there against their wishes.

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    $\begingroup$ @Jamiec you wrote "as an uncontrolled airfield they cannot give you permission to land or otherwise." - doesn't PPR mean you can ask for permission to land, and they can (potentially) give it? Did you mean they can't prevent you from landing? Maybe this is a British/American English divergence, but I'm definitely puzzled. $\endgroup$
    – Spike0xff
    Dec 1, 2023 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Spike0xff: The way I interpret it, they cannot issue a landing clearance nor can they deny one, since at an uncontrolled airfield, the very concept of "clearance" does not exist. As the owner of the private property, which just happens to be an airfield, they can, however, control whether or not you are allowed to enter their property and what you do there, including landing your airplane. So, they can deny use of the airfield in their capacity as the owner of the property, but they cannot act as controller of the airfield. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2023 at 20:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Spike0xff I meant exactly what Jorg said $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Dec 2, 2023 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ This is not something specific to UK: "As all private airports in Belgium, EBTX is PPR" (source), any private or military airfield in the world is potentially subject to PPR. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Dec 4, 2023 at 12:58
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PPR means exactly that - you have to have prior permission. The procedure for the visiting aircraft to get that is generally described on landing cards or web pages. The airport itself probably has internal procedures for granting permission. The person answering on radio most probably would not be allowed to grant permission. The exact reason for PPR would vary between different airports of course.

In my history, PPR was introduced at the glider airport. Reasoning was that we got some inexperienced powered aircraft pilots coming there as part of their training or for keeping current on number of landings. Mixing unknown powered aircraft in a busy uncontrolled airspace filled with student glider pilots gave us a bit too much of excitement. Hence the requirement to call ahead on the telephone and get the permission. We in the gliders and tow airplanes were aware of the flight paths and radio signaling around the airport but you could not expect that from unknown pilots. In addition we worked hard together with the surrounding farm houses to avoid disturbing people or live stock by carefully selecting flight paths for powered airplanes around the airport. Add in that the condition of the field was not guaranteed - parts of the year definitely unsuitable for typical powered aircrafts.

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