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In the US, there are two ways to airfile an IFR flight plan:

  1. Call Flight Service on the radio via the nearest FSS RCO and ask them to file the plan
  2. Ask the ATC entity you're talking to for a "pop up" IFR clearance

Is there any equivalent to either function in European (SES) airspace? Or is Europe a continent where airfiling IFR flight plans is not possible? (Bonus points if there's some sort of ICAO standard way of handling airfiling.)

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Sure you can. This is from ICAO Doc 4444:

4.4.2.2.1 A flight plan to be submitted during flight should normally be transmitted to the ATS unit in charge of the FIR, control area, advisory area or advisory route in or on which the aircraft is flying, or in or through which the aircraft wishes to fly or to the aeronautical telecommunication station serving the air traffic services unit concerned. When this is not practicable, it should be transmitted to another ATS unit or aeronautical telecommunication station for retransmission as required to the appropriate air traffic services unit.

4.4.2.2.2 Where relevant, such as in respect of ATC units serving high- or medium-density airspace, the appropriate ATS authority should prescribe conditions and/or limitations with respect to the submission of flight plans during flight to ATC units.

And this is from SERA (Standardized European Rules of the Air):

SERA.4001(c) A flight plan shall be submitted, before departure, to an air traffic services reporting office or, during flight, transmitted to the appropriate air traffic services unit or air-ground control radio station, unless arrangements have been made for submission of repetitive flight plans.

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    $\begingroup$ Correct! And some phraseo: "DEXPL, request IFR pickup to XYZ via ABC, FL70" $\endgroup$ – SentryRaven Apr 20 '17 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ Never heard "IFR pickup". Perhaps a phrase specific to Germany? I would simply expect to a pilot to request an IFR clearance and pass any relevant flightplan changes. $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Apr 21 '17 at 16:45
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Non-US, but not European, I have done "pop-up" IFR clearances in Canada rather frequently. In Mexico I have done them, but not often. Sometimes, it is simply contact with the approach facility, or tower if in a remote region, and obtaining an IFR clearance for an approach. I cannot recall any problems except bad weather (grin).

In the US, and IFR pickup is normally just filed with a navaid or fix as the departure point, with a remark noting where you departed from.

At least regionally, pop-ups are normally within one or perhaps two adjacent approach facilities. Any further, and it becomes an air-file. If busy, they really appreciate filing with FSS. If not busy they will sometimes take all the data on approach frequency. On rare occasions, they move you to an alternate approach frequency sometimes used for ASR, emergencies, and certain agency operations.

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