1
$\begingroup$

I don’t know how to fly yet but my friend has a Cessna, he says it’s awesome to have and fly one and he also said he will take me for a flight one day.
I have been researching and reading online and I have a question because I’m a bit scared.
So in order to take your plane for a flight, you have to file a flight plan and when you are flying you have to, using the radio, let them know that you are on your way. Let’s say I’m flying from Italy to Germany by going over Austria and I have filled the flight plan and all the necessary paperwork.
Can the Austrians ask me to land in their country for any reason, even if I’m only going over their country to go to Germany and they have notified of this before the flight?
Will they shoot me down if I don’t comply with them and land in Austria?

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Can you try to consolidate this a little? I think this is a valid question but it is at risk of being closed or deleted as it currently is written. $\endgroup$ – dalearn Oct 28 '18 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ I'd ask your friend about a different first flight. To fly from say Parma, Italy north to Stuttgart, Germany you have to cross some pretty high mountains, up over 12000 feet. 236nm flight, take the better part of 2 hours, or more. Check it out at www.skyvector.com, with LIMP (Parma) as your starting point and EDDS (Stuttgart) as the destination. i.stack.imgur.com/gxLDg.jpg $\endgroup$ – CrossRoads Oct 29 '18 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ As a non-pilot myself, I barely understand what SkyVector is showing me, and I've been hanging out here learning stuff for several years. I'm not really sure pointing an absolute flight newby (as the OP seems to be) to SV is particularly useful. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Oct 29 '18 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ The map I attached shows you have some high terrain between the two countries. Very high! The point is flying from Italy to Germany is not an easy one. A first flight should be more of a casual sight seeing tour, not a journey over the 12000 to 14000 foot Alps, approaching the limits of how high a Cessna can go (assuming it's a single engine 172 or similar). I crossed the Rockies here in the US, similar heights, and it took some planning to found a route where I only needed to climb to 12,500, and is not something I would not do as a casual first flight for a friend. $\endgroup$ – CrossRoads Oct 29 '18 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ "you have to file a flight plan" You do for international flights (as in your question) but most flights don't need a flight plan at all. $\endgroup$ – Dan Hulme Oct 30 '18 at 12:57
4
$\begingroup$

So in order to take your plane for a flight, you have to file a flight plan and when you are flying you have to, using the radio, let them know that you are on your way.

Not necessarily. It's usually a good idea to file a flight plan for flights from point A to point B, but not all flights are like that. Quite a few flights, particularly in general aviation (GA), take off from some location, fly along some route which may or may not be predetermined, and then fly back to the original location. For those, filing a flight plan is not necessarily beneficial.

Also, a flight plan is typically only required if you will be flying under what is known as Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), or when you are flying internationally. While private pilots can get the ratings (and have the equipment) to fly IFR, I dare say that far more private flights are flown according to Visual Flight Rules, or VFR. VFR is largely similar to how you drive a car; you look out the window, avoid flying into terrain or other aircraft, and navigate by various landmarks. The only major differences are that you're working in three dimensions, and that there are far fewer road signs up at a few thousand feet above ground level and above.

For communications, both with people on the ground and with other aircraft, it's normal to use the radio for voice communications. Larger airplanes are sometimes equipped with text communications systems, similar to a fancy text messaging system on a cell phone, but I dare say very few aircraft owned by individuals are so equipped.

Let’s say I’m flying from Italy to Germany by going over Austria and I have filled the flight plan and all the necessary paperwork. Can the Austrians ask me to land in their country for any reason, even if I’m only going over their country to go to Germany and they have notified of this before the flight?

They certainly can, in principle.

About 17 years ago, there was an event in the United States which caused the grounding of all aircraft in the country all at once. It's not a completely unreasonable guess that any that didn't comply might have been dealt with by force. The US is somewhat different from the EU, being so large and having few neighboring countries, but there's no reason why something similar couldn't possibly happen in the EU. Countries have authority of their airspace, and can choose who flies through it and who doesn't, when and where.

That said, the question you should be asking is more along the lines of how likely is it? The answer to that is "very unlikely"; if you've had a flight plan approved before departure, it's very rare for it to be revoked half-way through the flight.

Will they shoot me down if I don’t comply with them and land in Austria?

Technically, they can. In practice, unless you pose an immediate threat, that is extremely unlikely to happen. Even if you do seem to pose a threat, you will be given multiple chances to sort things out before it gets close to such extreme measures.

If the Austrians do anything in such a situation, it seems more likely that they would deny you entry or require you to return to the country of origin; in your case, back past the border to Italy. Once you're back in Italian airspace, what you do is up to you and to Italian Air Traffic Control.

You might also want to check out ICAO's Manual concerning Interception of Civil Aircraft (hat tip to bogl for mentioning that one here).

But frankly, you are overthinking it. In practice, countries don't go around shooting down planes flying on filed and approved flightplans and which are in contact with air traffic control. It's unlikely that you'd even be making international flights without considerable practice, and by that time, you'd know what's expected of you in both controlled and uncontrolled airspace, and know how to comply with instructions.

If you want to fly, or even pursue a pilot's license of your own, then I encourage you to give it a try. Not everyone who tries will have what is required to get a pilot's license, but there's no way to know if you don't try. Worst case, you'll have gained a number of experiences.

$\endgroup$
4
$\begingroup$

So in order to take your plane for a flight, you have to file a flight plan

Usually incorrect. Flight plans are only needed for international and for IFR flights. But there are some countries where a FPLN is required for every flight, but not Italy, Austria or Germany.

when you are flying you have to, using the radio, let them know that you are on your way

Only if you've filed a Flight Plan. If you haven't, then there's no need to announce your flight.

Can the Austrians ask me to land in their country for any reason

They can, it's their country. But unless you're a criminal or a terrorist, there's probably no reason for them to actually do this.

Will they shoot me down if I don’t comply with them and land in Austria?

If they ask you to land (see above) and you don't, then they could shoot you down. It's their country and they're trying to protect it. But it hasn't happened yet.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I think things are a lot more subtle than this answer. In general, in Europe, things are not as easy as "they can do whatever they want, it's their country". For example, denying free movement of persons between Shengen member states is a definite no-go. I would be surprised if there is not a law or treaty that exactly stipulates under which conditions a private aircraft can be denied access. Also, whether or not you should announce yourself also depend on the airspace you're in. $\endgroup$ – Sanchises Oct 29 '18 at 10:16
2
$\begingroup$

Aviation in general is very much driven by safety. Most topics covered during training therefore directly or indirectly are intended to teach how to avoid „dying as a consequence of flying“.

There are many other hobbies where the risk of dying is much higher, I guess :)

The particular scenario you asked about is very unlikely, and there are quite a few other scenarios more plausible that have some risks associated with them. However, and that’s the important bit, risk mitigation is something that is trained right from the start, so if you’re interested, then go for it - simply make sure you get decent training, develop your competence and make safety a habit!

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Excellent point. The "hobby" of driving from Italy to Germany via Austria is much more likely to get you killed in an accident than you are to be killed flying there. Especially if "shoot down" is your main point of concern. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Oct 29 '18 at 14:46

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.